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This study examines sport as a source for youth popularity, and its variation by gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and grade level, using a nationally representative U.S. sample of 2,185 3rd—12th graders. Results indicate athletes are more likely than nonathletes to report self-perceived popularity equally across gender, socioeconomic status, and grade. Black athletes are less likely to report self-perceived popularity than Whites. When given a choice of popularity criteria, youth chose sport as the most important criterion for male, not female, popularity. Regarding male popularity, sport is chosen over other criteria by middle school youth more than elementary and high school youth. While sport is a status enhancer, there is variation by gender, ethnicity, and grade level.
Shakib is with California State University Dominguez Hills, Sociology Dept. Carson, CA. Veliz is with the University of Buffalo, SUNY, Sociology Dept. Buffalo, NY. Dunbar is with the University of Southern California, Continuing Education & Summer Programs, Los Angeles, CA. Sabo is with D’Youville College, Center for Research on Physical Activity, Sport & Health, Buffalo, NY.