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Social Innequality of Sports

In: Social Issues

Submitted By kaycenieto
Words 1550
Pages 7
Social Inequalities of Sports
The world of sports has so many different levels to it. In each separate sport, there are different levels that range from recreational and neighborhood teams all the way up to professional leagues. Getting all the way up to this professional or even the collegiate level is a very impressive feat that not many people can say they have accomplished. However, athleticism and talent are not the only thing that gets you to these levels. There are many other factors that have to do with how far you can take your sport and how far your sport will allow you to go. There are many different inequalities such as race, ethnicity, class, and gender that shape each athlete’s experience in their respective sports.
The first is race and ethnicity. The conversation about racial inequality is currently a hot topic in the United States. However, over the last fifty years, the world of sports has made some of the best progress of any institutions. In the National Football League, two thirds of the league players are racial minorities, most of them being African American. Close to 25% of the league management positions are occupied by people of color. There were six African American general managers in 2012, and eight of the last 12 Super Bowl participants have either had a black coach or General Manager.
The National Basketball Association also has a very good diverse athlete population. More than three quarters of all NBA players are African-American and people of color make up about 81% of the league players. The NBA also employed second highest number of black head coaches ever in the 2012-2013 season. There are six African American general managers among the 30 teams and people of color hold 35% of the league management position on jobs.
In Major League Baseball, more than a quarter of the players are of Latino origin and the league has also increased the number Asian players that are on their rosters. The number foreign-born players are now at an all time high as well. However, African-American presence in major-league baseball has been decreasing steadily over the past couple of years. 10% of baseballs front office employees are black, 15% are Latino, and 4% are Asian. There are three people of color that were serving as general managers at start of this past season and four managers of color as well.
College sports are very telling area to look at. Nearly 90% of athletic directors at division one colleges are white, even though 15% of athletic directors at major conference calls or black. Whites also hold 90% of associate athletic director positions. Every single one of the 11 major conference commissioners is white. While they were only 18 coaches of color leading Division I football programs, that figure is well ahead of the number from a decade ago.
While there has been much progress against racial inequality in sports in the past fifty years, there are still some racial problems minority athlete’s faces in sports. A lack of diversity in the Division I program’s coaching staffs is an issue. There is an inherent issue with over 30% of male student athletes being non-white, and 96% of coaches being white. Minority athletes may struggle to build relationships with an all white coaching staff and may even be victims of unintentional racial stereotyping and bias. There are many stereotypes alive in sports, for example, the idea that all quarterbacks in football are white. While there have been many successful minority athletes that have broken this barrier, most recently 1st round draft pick Jameis Winston of Florida State, they still deal with unintentional racial stereotyping from coaches, fans, and other members of the team.
Another area that sports present inequalities is when looking at class. A major factor that determines a person’s involvement of sports includes their economic and social status. Pierre Bourdieu asserts that members of the middle class are most likely to be involved in sports, but only sports that are consistent with the middle class status. Members of the middle class tend to enjoy sports that surpass the class structure like baseball and football.
The outlets through which they participate in the sport reflect their social status. Travel ball teams are very expensive, and recreational leagues are much less expensive. Those who are of the upper-middle-class may be able to afford to put their child into a higher-level program. These programs require substantial financial resources in their participants, while the athletes enjoy better conditions, better instruction and better equipment. The families of the athlete must pay for hotels transportation coaching and equipment cost. They are playing the same middle-class sport, but at a much higher, competitive, and therefore more expensive level. This also puts them on a better track to be able to play collegiate sports.
Class effects young athlete’s motivations to play sports as well. For some lower class athletes, getting a college scholarship for athletics is the only way they will be able to go to college. They also look to achieve upward social mobility through their athletic skill. They may see athletics as a possible career option as well.
Another large area for inequality in sports is gender. While the issues or race and ethnicity causing inequality in sports is a serious concern, a relatively new concern is gender inequality in sports. Other than tennis, the women’s athletics are widely seen as a second-rate product among the main sports in the country and goes unnoticed by many. The public does not view many women who participate in these high-level sports as athletes, they are seen as sex objects. They are famous and praised for being attractive versus being talented and working hard at their sport. Rebecca Addlington is Great Britain's most successful swimmer ever; she won two gold medals in Beijing. But as her fame rose, her physical appearance became more widely discussed that her success.
In athletics, women are not given the same respect as men are. They are paid significantly less than their male counterpart for doing the same job. A great example of this is looking at the salary gap between the largest Head Coach salary gap between men and women. For example, Bonnie Henrickson, the University of Kansas’ women’s basketball, earned $505,000 a year. That number seems like a lot until you compare it to Bill Self, her counter part’s, $5 million salary. This significantly large pay gap appears slightly less sexist when you gauge how much more profitable men’s sports are. These inequalities in the pay gap are unavoidable and have more to do with popularity and the revenue differences between male and female sports.
Even though there is much inequality against women in high-level sports, the number of female athletes is steadily increasing. This increase can be attributed to the many people who fought for female athletes. The result of these efforts was the very famous law, Title IX. This federal law was passed in 1972 and mandated equal access for women in education, which included sports. Before Title IX, only 2% of college athletes were women. In 2012, 43% of student athletes were women, a 400% gain.
While Title IX was an enormous win for female athlete and female coaches everywhere, its work is not finished. There are still inequalities against women in sports. Male collegiate athletes receive 36% more scholarship dollars than female athletes at NCAA institutions. Male college athletics receive more money than women's in scholarships, recruiting, head coach salary, and operating expenses. Men have substantially more employment opportunities than women in college sports. Women are only 16.9% of the athletic directors, 44% of head coaches of women’s teams, 2% of the head coaches of men’s team, and 28% of full-time athletic trainers.
In the 2013-2014 school year, 7% or high school athletes went on to play a varsity sport in college, 2% going to a Division I program. Of those 2%, only 1% go to the professional level. Getting to play at that level takes hard work, dedication, and social factors that worked for you. Race, ethnicity, class, and gender all determine if you play a sport, what sport you play, how successful you can be, who will coach and manage the team. These social factors are hard at work combatting and creating inequality in the sports world.

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"Gender Equality in Athletics and Sports - Interesting Facts About Athletics, Sports, and Title IX - Feminist Majority Foundation." Gender Equality in Athletics and Sports - Interesting Facts About Athletics, Sports, and Title IX - Feminist Majority Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2015.
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