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James Tompsett and Chris Knoester

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.

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Chris Knoester and Theo Randolph

Using Fragile Families data (N = 2,581), this study analyzes father’s engagement in sports and outdoor activities with their nine year-old child. It also considers the implications of these interactions for health and father-child relationships. First, the results indicate patterns of relatively high levels of father engagement. Most fathers reported doing sports or outdoor activities with their child once per week or more. Second, the results show socioeconomic, gender, and family structure discrepancies in the likelihood that fathers engage in sports or outdoor activities with their child. Finally, the findings reveal that father-child interactions in sports and outdoor activities are positively associated with reports of health and father-child closeness, for both fathers and children. Thus, it seems that father-child interactions in sports and outdoor activities can serve as purposive forms of leisure that can have positive effects for health and relationships.

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Rachel Allison and Chris Knoester

Using data from the National Sports and Society Survey (N = 3,988), this study analyzes associations between gender, sexual, and sports fan identities. The authors find that only 11% of U.S. adults do not identify as sports fans at all; also, nearly half of U.S. adults identify as quite passionate sports fans. Women and nonbinary adults are less likely to identify as strong sports fans compared with men. Compared with identifying as heterosexual, identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or another sexual identity is negatively associated with self-identified sports fandom. Yet, gender and sexuality interact such that identifying as gay (or lesbian) is negatively associated with men’s self-identified sports fandom but not women’s fandom. These findings persist even after consideration of adults’ retrospective accounts of their sports-related identities while growing up and their recognition of sports-related mistreatment.

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Chris Knoester and B. David Ridpath

Traditionally, public opinions have largely opposed further compensation for U.S. college athletes, beyond the costs of going to school. This study uses new data from the National Sports and Society Survey (N = 3,993) to assess recent public opinions about allowing college athletes to be paid more than it costs them to go to school. The authors found that a majority of U.S. adults now support, rather than oppose, allowing college athletes to be paid. Also, the authors found that White adults are especially unlikely, and Black adults are especially likely, to support allowing payment. Furthermore, recognition of racial/ethnic discrimination is positively, and indicators of traditionalism are negatively, associated with support for allowing college athletes to be paid.

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Chris Knoester, B. David Ridpath, and Rachel Allison

Using descriptive and multiple regression analyses of data from the National Sports and Society Survey (N = 3,993), this study examines public opinions about athletes’ right to protest during the national anthem. Results suggest that public opinion is now more supportive of athletes being allowed to protest during the anthem, although considerable opposition persists. Black individuals and those who recognize racial/ethnic discrimination in society are especially likely to support athletes’ right to protest. Heterosexual, Christian, sports fan, and military identities seem to encourage opposition to the right to protest. Indicators of traditionalism and sports nationalism attitudes are also negatively associated with support for athlete protests.