Athletics and Academics: A Mixed Methods Inquiry on University/Colleges Student Athletes’ Experiences

By Tshepang Tshube.

Published by Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education

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The primary objective of this study was to examine student-athletes’ experiences, particularly an in-depth account of balancing school and sport. The secondary objective was to assess student-athletes’ susceptibility to the effects of the “dumb-jock” stereotype threat and also to determine the strength of athletic and academic identity as predicated by the extent to which stereotype is perceived by student-athletes. A total of 110 student-athletes from colleges and universities in Botswana completed an online survey that was followed by semi-structured interviews with eight student-athletes, and four coaches. The online survey assessed student-athletes’ demographic variables, measured athletic, academic identities, and perceived stereotype threat. Student-athletes reported a slightly higher academic identity (M=5.9, SD= .85) compared to athletic identity (M=5.4, SD=1.0). Student-athletes reported a moderate mean (M=3.6, SD=.82) just above the midpoint of the 7-point scale for stereotype threat. A Univariate ANOVA was conducted to determine if there was any significant difference between university and colleges brackets in Botswana with regard to the three variables: athletic identity, student identity and stereotype threat. The only significant difference was in the academic identity (Post Hoc-Tukey Student Identity: Bracket A < Bracket B, Bracket C) with Bracket A schools being the least athletically competitive. Qualitative data results indicate that even though student-athletes reported a slightly higher student identity, there are parallels between sports and academic structures on college campuses. Results also provide evidence of lack of academic support for student-athletes. Results are discussed using the stereotype threat theory as a framework.

Keywords: Stereotype Threat, Student Athletes, Athletic Identity, Collegiate Sport

Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education, Volume 7, Issue 4, December 2016, pp.21-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 466.366KB).

Dr. Tshepang Tshube

Teaching Assistant, Kinesiology Department, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA