The Good and Bad of It All: Professional Black Male Basketball Players as Role Models for Young Black Male Basketball Players

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Texas A&M University
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It is a generally accepted belief, affirmed in the media, that professional Black male basketball players from the National Basketball Association serve as role models for young Black males. Very little empirical evidence, however, is available about how the young men think about these relationships. Using the concept of role model from social learning theory as a lens, I analyze interview data drawn from a convenience sample of 19 young Black men who participated in high school basketball to investigate the idea of “professional Black male basketball players as role models.” I find that young men do not necessarily accept the “good/bad” role-model dichotomy presented in the media, but rather, they are discerning in their acceptance and rejection of certain role-model attitudes and behaviors.

The author is with the Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University, 311 Academic Building, College Station, TX 77843-4351; rmay@tamu.edu

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