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Thursday, January 26, 2017
The Role of Race on the "Pay for Play" Debate

A fascinating article was just published in the Political Research Quarterly titled “Prejudice or Principled Conservatism? Racial Resentment and White Opinion toward Paying College Athletes” by Kevin Wallsten, Tatishe Nteta, Lauren McCarthy and Melinda Tarsi.

One of the undercurrents in the debate over paying college athletes has been one of race. The sports of football and basketball generate the substantial portion of revenue for college athletics, and African-American men are dramatically overrepresented in these sports on college campuses relative to the overall collegiate population.

Most arguments to alter NCAA rules governing compensation to college athletes in revenue producing sports have centered on antitrust law or free market economic market theory. Of note however, Taylor Branch argued that race has played a role in delaying the fight to change the NCAA’s definition of amateurism in his seminal article “The Shame of College SportsThe Atlantic in 2011.

This new article concludes, “prejudice against African Americans determines how whites feel about increasing compensation for college athletes” and that in every survey to date, “African Americans have expressed higher levels of support than whites for paying college athletes.”

Regardless of your stance on the “pay for play” debate, it is interesting to note the role all of our predispositions towards race may have on this movement.

You may read the abstract of this article here, and download it here.


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