(Photo Credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
In “‘Athleticated’ Versus Educated: A Qualitative Investigation of Campus Perceptions, Recruiting and African American Male Student-Athletes,” C. Keith Harrison (2008) conducted a study to explore students’ narratives about the college recruitment of high-profile Black male high school student-athletes. Harrison had participants to watch a scene about college athletic recruiting from The Program (1994). The research questions posed in this study are as follows: (1) Are the recruiting visit perceptions by students about student-athletes based on stereotypes and athlete biases? (2) How will students respond to images that represent the intercollegiate athletic ritual(s) to sign major recruits in revenue sports (i.e. football and/or basketball)? (3) What type of discussion and dialogue about academics and athletics does the qualitative data (narratives) reveal?
A mixed-method research design was used. 202 students at a highly selective Midwestern university participated in this study. 73.6% of the participants are White, 13.4% Asian, and 9% Black, 3% Hispanic, and 1% identified as “Other.” Visual elicitation was employed to stimulate a discourse between the interviewer and the interviewees. A survey questionnaire was used. Hierarchical content analysis and inductive analysis were employed to analyze open-ended responses to questions posed on the survey questionnaire given to each participant after viewing only one scene from The Program. Participants’ responses emerge from viewing this one scene.
The findings of the study indicated that both Black and White students identified Black male student-athletes in the film to be more athletic or “athleticated” than educated. Both Black and White students viewed the Black male student-athletes on the film as sex objects. For Black participants, two dominant themes were found: “athleticated” and “sex object.” For White participants, four major themes were determined: “athleticated,” “sex object,” “media stereotypes,” and “unrealistic depiction.” The most prominent themes for both Blacks and Whites were “athleticated” and “sex object.”
Harrison (2008) found important gaps in the professional literature about their being limited empirical investigations of the recruiting inventory of the student-athlete and how the general student body views the student-athlete’s recruitment process. Since this study extended knowledge about the two aforementioned gaps in the literature, it helps to give some understanding of them.
Harrison (2008) does not offer the reader an understanding of whether this was each participant’s first time viewing the film, which is crucial to understanding potential influences on their responses to questions posed. One significant weakness of the study is the scholar did not allow the participants to view the entire film, which impacts their ability to properly contextualize the scene the study engaged. The study does not offer specific details about the responses Hispanic, Asian, and “Other” participants divulged.
Future research needs to resolve how the views of the recruitment of Black male student-athletes of the general student population impact their educational experiences at predominantly white higher education institutions. Additionally, future research should be devoted to understanding how the perceptions of the recruitment of Black male student-athletes impact their interactions with faculty at predominantly white higher education institutions. Finally, future research needs to replicate this study and allow students to watch the entire film and then ask them questions about the particular scene used by this study.
Harrison, C.K. (2008). “Athleticated” versus educated: A qualitative investigation of campus perceptions, recruiting and African American male student-athletes. Challenge: A Journal of Research on African American Men, 14(1), 39-60.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison