The influence of race on attitudes about college athletics

James N. Druckman*, Adam J. Howat, Andrew Rodheim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Abstract: The questions of whether college student-athletes should be paid and/or allowed to unionize have generated a wide-ranging national debate. Public opinion on these issues is starkly divided along racial lines, with African-Americans dramatically more supportive than non-African-Americans. We posit that the race gap stems from fundamentally distinct mindsets. African-Americans view pay for play and unionization as mechanisms to enhance educational experiences and hence as a form of affirmative action. Non-African-Americans, in contrast, focus on the extent to which they enjoy the consumption value of college athletics. We present results from a nationally representative survey experiment that supports our expectations. We also find that non-African-Americans can be swayed to employ a more race-based lens on these issues, although this re-framing does not diminish the attitudinal race gap. We conclude with a discussion about race, sports and public opinion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1020-1039
Number of pages20
JournalSport in Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 8 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies


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