Sports Participation and Attitudes Toward Race and Ethnicity: A Study of Twelfth-Grade Students in the United States

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Drawing on contact, social identity, and self-categorization theories, this study examines the extent to which adolescent sports participation associates with (a) concern about the treatment of minority groups and (b) worry about race relations in the United States. Based on data gathered in the 2016 Monitoring the Future study of twelfth-grade students, the study finds that females, Hispanic study participants, respondents in the West region, and sports participants expressed greater concern about minority treatment. On the second dependent variable, females, Black study participants, and respondents in the West region indicated greater worry about race relations. The study also examined whether attitudes appeared to vary across baseball/softball, basketball, and soccer participation. Baseball/softball participants, who were predominantly White, expressed less concern about minority groups but did not differ from others on attitudes toward race relations. Additionally, while Black adolescents competing in baseball/softball and soccer worried about race relations at relatively high levels, those competing in basketball expressed significantly less concern. Implications and recommendations for future research are provided.

The author is with the Department of Communication, Clemson University, Clemson, SC.

Address author correspondence to Bryan E. Denham at bdenham@clemson.edu.
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