Untangling the Links among Athletic Involvement, Gender, Race, and Adolescent Academic Outcomes

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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Although previous research has established that high school sports participation might be associated with positive academic outcomes, the parameters of the relationship remain unclear. Using a longitudinal sample of nearly 600 western New York adolescents, this study examined gender- and race-specific differences on the impact of two dimensions of adolescent athletic involvement (“jock” identity and athlete status) on changes in school grades and school misconduct over a 2-year interval. Female and Black adolescents who identified themselves as jocks reported lower grades than did those who did not, whereas female athletes reported higher grades than female nonathletes. Jocks also reported significantly more misconduct (including skipping school, cutting classes, having someone from home called to the school for disciplinary purposes, and being sent to the principal’s office) than did nonjocks. Gender moderated the relationship between athlete status and school misconduct; athletic participation had a less salutary effect on misconduct for girls than for boys.

Miller and Barnes are with the Research Institute on Addictions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY. Melnick is with the Department of Physical Education and Sport, S.U.N.Y. College at Brockport, Brockport, NY. Farrell is with the Department of Sociology, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY. Sabo is with the Center for Research on Physical Activity, Sport, and Health, D’Youville College, Buffalo, NY.