The Odds of Attaining Professional Athlete Status: Refining the Computations

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Illinois State University
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The present study contributes to and extends the literature on sport and social mobility by refining the computations for the odds of attaining professional athlete status in the U.S. Using 1980 U.S. census data, 1986 and 1987 team rosters, and 1986 lists of money winners, rates for achieving “entry level” professional sport careers were computed for males and females, whites, blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders in the sports of football, baseball, basketball, hockey, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, and auto racing. The methodological contribution of this research is that refined norming variables are employed in the statistical calculations; that is, they are age, race/ethnicity, sport, and sex specific. This inquiry contains the most systematic, extensive, and precise measures for assessing the likelihood of achieving the ultimate in sport upward social mobility—professional athlete status.

A version of this paper was presented at the annual meetings of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, Edmonton, Alberta, November 7, 1987.

Direct all correspondence to Wilbert M. Leonard II, Sociology Program, or Jonathan E. Reyman, Anthropology Program, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61761.
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