This article considers the role of sports in relations among immigrant and established-resident minority and Anglo students in Garden City, Kansas, High School. Sports activities form the most direct link between the school and community, and many Garden City residents consider sport to be one of the school’s most important functions. Many perceive sports, particularly football, as a catalyst for successful academic school years. However, emphasis on student participation in sport works to alienate those who do not take part. Student participation in established sports and other school activities is encouraged under the pretext that students will more readily establish an identity with the school. Because most immigrant and many other minority students are not involved in established American sports, and do not even attend games, they risk being perceived as unwilling to assimilate on “American” terms, and they are generally given lower status in the school’s social hierarchy.
Mark A. Grey is with the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50613.