High School Football and the Athletic-Market Economy: Recruiting, Producing, and Manufacturing Talent

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There are two cultural narratives often purported within the American sports cultures of basketball and football. First, those participating within these sports are African American athletes from poor communities lacking educational and economic opportunities. Second, the meritocratic myth perpetuating American society feeds the notion no matter where an individual is from their talent will elevate them to the next level. There have already been a few studies who have challenged these myths. This study seeks to continue the conversation by collecting community data on 7,670 high school football recruits for the years 2000 to 2016. This study seeks to provide a broad overview of the interscholastic football landscape as well as determine production levels of schools. This study finds that while players are recruited from a diverse range of communities and school types, as a school becomes more productive they tend to be located within wealthier urban communities, have a diverse student body, and have a higher likelihood of being a private school.

Macaulay and Cooper are with the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Dougherty is with Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

Address author correspondence to Charles Macaulay at charles.macaulay@uconn.edu.
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