Race and Socioeconomic Composition of the High Schools of National Football League Players

in Sociology of Sport Journal
View More View Less
  • 1 Florida State University
  • 2 Kent State University
  • 3 Brock University
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $65.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $87.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $123.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $165.00

This work built upon previous research examining meritocracy in elite sport by examining the socioeconomic and racial composition of the high schools of 1,881 players on National Football League (NFL) rosters in 2016. The NFL player data from pro-football-reference.com and perceived race data coded from player pictures are matched to school data for 23,785 public high schools in the Common Core of Data and 3,333 private high schools in the Private School Universe Survey. Using t tests of differences in group averages and General Linear Model analysis of variance, the authors found large statistically significant racial disparities within the NFL with Black NFL players attending high schools with an average of twice as many students in poverty and five times as many Black students than the high schools attended by White NFL players. Overall, NFL players attended high schools with lower socioeconomic status student bodies than the general student population, suggesting more meritocracy. However, analysis by player race shows the difference driven by the racial composition of the NFL compared with the general student population, suggesting this meritocracy is more complex; Black NFL players attended higher socioeconomic status schools with more White students than the general Black student population, and White NFL players attended higher socioeconomic status schools with fewer Black students than the general White student population.

White is with Sport Management, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA. Wilson is with Economics, Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA. Walton-Fisette and Yim are with Sport Administration, Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA. Donnelly is with Sport Management, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

Walton-Fisette (twalton1@kent.edu) is corresponding author.
  • Allison, R., Davis, A., & Barranco, R. (2018). A comparison of hometown socioeconomics and demographics for Black and White elite football players in the US. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 53(5), 615629. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brohm, J.M. (1978). Sport: A prison of measured time. London, UK: Ink Links.

  • Brown, D.D. (2017). The portrayal of Black masculinity in the NFL: Critical race theory and the images of Black males. In B.J. Hawkins, A.R. Carter-Francique, and J.N. Cooper (Eds.) Critical race theory: Black athletic sporting experiences in the United States (pp. 217246). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dubrow, J.K., & adams, J. (2012). Hoop inequalities: Race, class and family structure background and the odds of playing in the National Basketball Association. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 47(1), 4359. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Edwards, H. (1984). The black “dumb Jock”: An American sports tragedy. College Board Review, 131, 813.

  • Edwards, H. (2000). Crisis of black athletes on the eve of the 21st century. Society, 37(3), 913. doi:

  • Feudtner, C., & Miles, S.H. (2018). Traumatic brain injury news reports and participation in high school tackle football. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(5), 492494. PubMed ID: 29532090 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harper, S. (2018). Black male student-athletes and racial inequities in NCAA Division I college sports. Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California, Race and Equity Center.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hodge, S.R., Harrison, L., Jr., Burden, J.W., Jr., & Dixson, A.D. (2008). Brown in black and white—Then and now: A question of educating or sporting African American males in America. American Behavioral Scientist, 51(7), 928952. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hughes, R.L., Satterfield, J.W., & Giles, M.S. (2007). Athleticizing black male student-athletes: The social construction of race, sports, myths, and realities. NASAP Journal, 10(1), 112127.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lapchick, R. (2016). The 2016 racial and gender report card: National football league. Orlando, FL: The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES). Retrieved from https://43530132-36e9-4f52-811a-182c7a91933b.filesusr.com/ugd/a4ad0c_83cebda86fed4f8a820adcb3af3d71d8.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lapchick, R. (2019). The 2019 racial and gender report card: National football league. Orlando, FL: The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES). Retrieved from https://43530132-36e9-4f52-811a-182c7a91933b.filesusr.com/ugd/7d86e5_5af5faf45ba7443da733f900f54638b4.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lomax, M.E. (1999). The African American experience in professional football. Journal of Social History, 33(1), 163178. doi:

  • Macaulay, C., Cooper, J., & Dougherty, S. (2019). High school football and the athletic-market economy: Recruiting, producing, and manufacturing talent. Sociology of Sport Journal, 36(3), 203212. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association [NCAA]. (2017, March). 2017 Probability of Competing Beyond High School. Indianapolis, IN: NCAA Research. Retrieved from http://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/2015-16RES_Probability_Chart_Web _20170314.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nguyen, V.T., Zafonte, R.D., Chen, J.T., Kponee-Shovein, K.Z., Paganoni, S., Pascual-Leone, A., … Weisskopf, M.G. (2019). Mortality among professional American-style football players and professional American baseball players. JAMA Network Open, 2(5), e194223. PubMed ID: 31125098 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reardon, S.F. (2013). The widening income achievement gap. Educational Leadership, 70(8), 1016.

  • Reardon, S.F., Robinson-Cimpian, J.P., & Weathers, E.S. (2015). Patterns and trends in racial/ethnic and socioeconomic academic achievement gaps. In H.F. Ladd & M.E. Goertz (Eds.) Handbook of research in education finance and policy (pp. 497516). New York, NA: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sailes, G.A. (1993). An investigation of campus stereotypes: The myth of Black athletic superiority and the dumb jock stereotype. Sociology of Sport Journal, 10(1), 8897. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Siler, K. (2019). Pipelines on the gridiron: Player backgrounds, opportunity structures and racial stratification in American college football. Sociology of Sport Journal, 36(1), 5776. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, E. (2009). Race, sport and the American dream. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

  • Stanford CEPA. (n.d.). Center for Education Policy Analysis. Retrieved from https://cepa.stanford.edu/

  • Stephens-Davidowitz, S. (2013, November 2). In the NBA, ZIP code matters. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/opinion/sunday/in-the-nba-zip-code-matters.html

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • The changing face of football. (2019, January 30). Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Season 25, Episode 1. HBO.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 217 217 50
Full Text Views 19 19 4
PDF Downloads 15 15 3