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The Effects of Athletic Involvement on Education and Occupational Attainment

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The Effects of Athletic Involvement on Education and Occupational Attainment

Examining the complex effects of participation in high school and collegiate sports on subsequent benefits such as, occupational attainment, positive psychological adjustment, educational attainment etc. is hypothesized to trickle over into other areas of an individual's life. In addition, there are long-term benefits of high school activities, particularly for sports participation. Although there has been some contradictory evidence in this research area it is believed that experiences gained through college athletic participation can influence athletes in many areas of life, including educational attainment and job satisfaction. Sports have usually been thought of as a way of teaching youth skills necessary for success in later life (Coakley, 1986). Also according to Snyder (1985), "success experiences in sport may lead to a heightened sense of self-worth that spill over into academic achievement and via athletic participation, personal qualities emphasizing hard work, success, and achievement are taught that spill over into the academic realm" (p. 210-211). With these two concepts participation in sports provides an environment where youth can learn necessary skills for later life success, which transfer to scholastic and vocational areas.

Most research has examined the effect of athletic participation on life success as focused on various indicators of academic success. Some of the most often used indicators are academic performance, graduation rates and motivation to attend college. There have been two studies of the long-term effects of athletic participation on later job status and occupational success, both of which only studied male athletes. Dubois (1980) compared the occupational success of former male athletes to non-athletes and found no significant differences. To further support the previous article, earlier research has also been concerned with the effects of participation in intercollegiate sports on subsequent occupational attainment. One of the most widely held beliefs concerns the notion that sports can serve as an effective vehicle for upward social mobility (Young, 1970). It is thought by some to be used as a stepping stone to occupational success. This research examines the sport-occupational attainment relationship as either true or false.

The study by Dubois (1979) investigates the social mobility and attainment patterns of former athletes. It divided the status of "athlete" into a series of distinct categories and analyzed the effect of each on occupational attainment. Occupational attainment, the studies dependent variable, was measured along two dimensions: occupational prestige and earnings. The status of "athlete" was broken down into five categories: star, major sport, major sport star, team sport and central playing position. A "star" athlete is a member on the team that was the star player (i.e. most valuable player). It was rationalized that "star players" might achieve more job related success than other individuals because of the traits and behaviors necessary for athletic excellence, which are also viewed by employers as generalizable to occupational tasks. Major sport athletes such as, football or basketball players, could be one plausible athlete to achieve occupational attainment due to the fact of high visibility within that major sport and have a positive effect on their subsequent occupational attainment. Next, former star athletes who also played in a major sport will demonstrate relatively higher occupational attainment than other individuals. Former team sport athletes, who are highly sociable and communicative, can be perceived by employers as such and these athletes may attain higher levels of occupational attainment over non-athletes because of those particular skills. Lastly, athletes who play a central position are perceived as individuals possessing higher levels of responsibility, intelligence and leadership skills within the team, may be allocated to more desirable occupational roles than other individuals because they posses these skills. Athletes were compared to non-athletes and the following variables were used as controls for the study: father's occupational prestige, level of education, ethnic origins, grade point average, years of work experience and age because it's ability to effect occupational attainment has been clearly established in prior sociological research. However, this present study by Dubois (1979) did not come to the conclusion that there is an effect of participation in sport on occupational attainment. None of the athlete categories demonstrated a significant effect on occupational prestige and earnings. This is one of the earliest studies to explore this area of research and some dilemmas transpire. The need for an increase in population size (N = 136) and investigate the athlete's occupational attainment beyond the early stages of their occupational careers. It followed participants up until 3 years after senior year in college, thus it dealt with early occupational attainment. To explore this issue in depth you need a range of population, especially in ethnic origin, seeing as how it is one of the variables that can influence occupational attainment as stated in prior sociological research.

In contrast, Adelman (1990) found that men who participated in college athletics would fare better economically than those who did not. He also concluded that colleges are vulnerable to the charge that they fail to provide their athletes with a meaningful education. This study of athletes was based on the Education Department's National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972. This particular study followed a group of 1972 high-school seniors through 1986, providing educational researchers with data not only about the students' college careers, but also about their first several years in the job market. By the time they reached the age of 32, former students who competed in varsity sports in college were doing better economically than those who did not compete in varsity sports. Adelman (1990) wanted to evaluate the controversy that "big-time" college sports exploit athletes, denying them an education that will help them succeed after college. The research provides interesting data. The sample consisted of six comparison groups of students who attended four year universities: varsity football and basketball players; varsity athletes in other sports; intramural sports participants; performing arts students; non-athletes; and a residual group who claimed to be active in athletics as per on their transcripts. Some of the findings are, varsity football and basketball players graduate at just a slightly lower rate than do other students,

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