Political Protesting, Race, and College Athletics: Why Diversity Among Coaches Matters*

James N. Druckman*, Adam J. Howat, Jacob E. Rothschild

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Athletes have long used their platform to stage political protests on issues ranging from racial oppression to athlete compensation. For college student athletes, protesting is complicated by their amateur status and dependence on their schools. As a result, college coaches hold particular power over student athletes’ decisions in this realm. We seek to better understand the determinants of coaches’ attitudes toward student athlete protests. Methods: We use a novel survey to study what college coaches think when student athletes participate in various forms of political protests. Results: We find that African-American coaches exhibit greater support for protests and are more likely to believe protests reflect concern about the issues, rather than attention-seeking behavior. Conclusion: Our results isolate a major driver of opinions about athletic protests and reveal why the relatively low number of minority college coaches matters: greater diversity in the coaching ranks would lead to more varied opinions about the politicization of student athletes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1009-1022
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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