The Making of a College Athlete: High School Experiences, Socioeconomic Advantages, and the Likelihood of Playing College Sports

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 The Ohio State University
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Understandings of who plays college sports are dominated by assumptions that lack academic scrutiny. Using the Education Longitudinal Study (N = 7,810) and multilevel modeling, this study examines the extent to which high school indicators of family socioeconomic statuses, athletic development and merit, academic expectations and knowledge, and school contexts predict the likelihood of becoming a college athlete. The authors find evidence that supports our understanding of the process of becoming a college athlete being shaped by family socioeconomic status. Still, high school sport participation characteristics, academic expectations and knowledge, and school contexts also seem to offer independent contributions to the odds of becoming a college athlete. Overall, these results suggest that college athletic opportunities are not simply a function of athletic merit, based on unique analyses of quantitative empirical evidence from a large national sample of high school students.

Tompsett and Knoester are with the Department of Sociology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.

Tompsett (Tompsett.1@osu.edu) is corresponding author.
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