The attitudes and opinions of high school sports participants: an exploratory empirical examination

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Sport scholars and public commentators have long held both positive and critical opinions about the influence of athletic involvement on participants and their perceptions of the social world. Yet for all of the strong claims and deeply held assumptions, relatively little empirical data or social scientific analysis have been available. This study begins to address this deficiency using new data from a nationally representative survey of American high school students. We compare sports participants and their peers in terms of concern for social problems, interracial contact and attitudes, views of gender roles and sex-based discrimination and political orientation. We find participants and non-participants differ very little in their social concern and views of gender roles and sex-based discrimination, while significant differences were found in levels of interracial contact, views on race relations and political orientation. In view of these findings, we make some general conclusions about the social influence of sport in the lives of American youth and how this topic may be further explored in subsequent work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-132
Number of pages20
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Athletes
  • Attitudes
  • Gender ideologies
  • High school
  • Political orientation
  • Racial contacts
  • Sport


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