When it comes to making it to the college sports team, a student’s chances are greatly influenced by the funding and education of his parents. Even college sports recruiting favors white suburban athletes.
Those two conclusions come from our collective research as sports sociology and education scholars. As former college athletes, we have studied and studied what it took to be college athletes. We found that becoming a college athlete requires opportunity, investment, commitment, and appropriate social interaction.
Our research supports what many college athletes we spoke with like Malcolm — a black man who grew up in a white suburb and is a second-generation college athlete — already knows.
Malcolm observed that your chances of becoming a college athlete depend on where you grew up, how much money your parents have, what your parents know about college and sports pipelines, and who you are. can help.
“People think Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world because he has the fastest man-in-the-gene in the world. I honestly don’t think so,” Malcolm explained. “I think somewhere on the block There is someone who can probably run faster than Usain Bolt if they get the same coaching and same technique. … I don’t think the world sees it. … [Bolt] Take your time … you have to put in your time no matter what the sport is. “
Malcolm is one of 47 college athletes interviewed as part of our work. We also tracked what happened to 7,810 Class 10 students over the next four years.
We found that parental wealth and education, family investments and knowledge all affect the likelihood of playing college sports. And we found a sharp divide between the rich and the poor. Among the most affluent students, 23% of high school seniors who were varsity athletes went on to play college sports. But among the financially poorest families, only 9% went on to play college sports.
CM, a white woman and long-distance runner who played six different sports before becoming a college athlete, interviewed students from more affluent families. Her hometown was “as suburban as you can get”. It includes “27 pools, two lagoons and two man-made lakes”; a recreation center with tennis courts and softball and soccer fields; equestrian facilities; and running trails.
Greater access to athletic facilities, parks and recreation centers leads to increased sports participation. Most non-white and low-income communities have fewer entertainment centers and sports offerings than white, affluent neighborhoods that apply more of their tax dollars and private money to deliver them. It is therefore no surprise that children from wealthy communities play sports more often.
Accordingly, our 10th grade study found that attending a wealthy school, offering more school-sponsored sports, and playing multiple sports made one more likely to become a college athlete. Compared to attending a school where hardly any students were poor enough to qualify for free or reduced lunches, attending a school where 75% or more of the student body was on free or reduced lunches was a student was associated with lowering the odds of becoming a college. Athletes in about half.
CM’s Public School also put a lot of emphasis on going to college. Rich communities tend to mobilize larger family and community resources to invest more in education than poorer communities. They also reinforce messages about the importance of going to college, which in turn leads to higher rates of actually going to college compared to poorer communities.
As a result, we found that both the proportion of low-income students in schools and the students’ own expectations of going to college and the degree to which others expected them to go to college were associated with the students’ likelihood of becoming college athletes.
Duane, a black man and middle-distance runner, learned that family investments matter, too.
“If you don’t put a lot of money into it, you won’t be able to make the most of it,” Duane said. “I can see why people would think, ‘Oh, you don’t need a lot of money. You just throw on your shoes, throw on your shorts and run.’ it’s not that easy.”
Of the 47 college athletes, 94% played sports by kindergarten and 77% played on consecutive club teams, which typically cost $1,000–$4,000 annually. Paying for private coaching and elite training camps was also common and even more expensive.
As noted by Malcolm, developing athletic talent also requires commitments of time and energy. Of the 47 college athletes, about 80% played sports 5-6 days per week in high school and 36% practiced twice per day. Wealthy athletes could invest in this time as they were largely free from work and household responsibilities. Also, his parents had high-paying and flexible jobs.
These sports-related investments reflect the academic investment of families. In addition to being better prepared to help pay for college, wealthy families often invest in private tuition, SAT preparatory classes, and college admissions instructors, which help their children stand out as college applicants.
Our study of tenth grade students confirms that parental wealth and education increase college expectations and chances of becoming college athletes. These things matter beyond athletic merit.
Finally, being a college-going parent helps students do well in school and enter college. College graduates are more aware and intuitive about the processes of preparing for college and applying to college. This is because they have generally done well in school, have known and learned about other successful college students from their experiences, and are more likely to learn and receive information about college admissions.
This helps them to find out what the admission officers look for in the applicants.
Irwin, a white man with college-educated parents, initially played football and baseball, but described himself as second-rate. His mother learned through friends that participating in specific sports such as sailing increased his chances of entry. So, he signed his eldest son to fencing and Irwin to rowing. Irwin eventually cried in college.
Colleges usually sponsor specific sports and offer admission benefits to the athletes who play them. It’s easier to be a standout rower than a basketball player.
Learning about college recruiting also offers huge advantages.
It’s important to know that coaches largely control athletic admissions. Plus, it helps to learn that athletes can do things that are viewed favorably by college recruiters. This includes pursuing a less popular sport with purpose, creating attractive marketing materials that highlight their athletic achievements and include letters of recommendation from respected coaches, and informal campus visits. Athletes who use this knowledge effectively can be mediocre in their sport and still get admission offers from colleges.
what does this mean?
One way to reduce the negative effects of needing money to play and be successful in sports is to adopt a sports-for-all, sports-for-life ethic within our communities and as a society. join forces. This approach can help ensure that sports are more inclusive, that athletic talent is nurtured and that the benefits of sports participation are provided to more people throughout their lives.
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