Racial Stereotypes in Athletics

The article, Racial Athletic Stereotype Confirmation in College Football Recruiting, can be found in the Journal of Social Psychology and is written by Grant Thomas, Jessica J. Good, and Alexi R. Gross. This article was published in 2015 and it explores the topic of racial stereotypes in the context of college athletic recruitment. They were basically studying if a racial bias could play a role in college athletic recruitment.

The researchers’ first hypothesis was that coaches would rate black players more positively than they would white players due to racial stereotypes. Their second hypothesis was that the average black player will gain more athletic scholarships and coach attention than the average white player. To test their first hypothesis, the researchers acquired various coaches to evaluate players. They were provided with a headshot picture, an athletic statistic page, the player’s name, and a highlight tape of the player’s plays. Finally, the coaches were asked to fill out an evaluation for the players and were told the true purpose of the study.

The relationship between race and evaluation was small, but still consistent, and matched up with the researchers’ first hypothesis. In other words, the black player was evaluated at a higher rate than the white player. However, this was on a subjective scale, but when the coaches evaluated the players on an objective scale, they based it purely off of the players’ stats. Regarding their second hypothesis, they were only partially correct. The study showed that the coaches offered more scholarships (zero-sum resources) and non-zero sum resources to the black players. So, instead of giving the white player more non-zero sum resources, the coaches typically gave both to the black players. Concerning real-world implications, college recruiters could use these research findings to be more conscious of their own usage of racial stereotypes.

In reading these findings, they could force themselves to only pay attention to the player’s statistics instead of their appearance. This racial stereotype definitely is present in the recruit of players by college coaches. In these studies, there are no ethical concerns– no one was hurt physically, or mentally. If I were a participant in this study, it really would not have affected my life. However, if I was a coach, it would have definitely opened my eyes to the presence of racial stereotypes. But it would not have affected my life in a negative way at all. Anyways, it is pretty rare nowadays to find a modern study that has ethical concerns– most studies with ethical concerns took place many years ago.

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