Who in the school benefits the most or the least from varsity sports

This is a three- to five-page double-spaced paper on varsity sports in U.S. schools. The paper must focus on sociological issues such as gender equity, gender relations, race or ethnic relations, peer group relations, the culture and social organization of social life at the school, the experiences of athletes, coach-athlete relationships, media coverage, the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in social life at the school, the experiences of “non-athletes” or those who play non-varsity sports, etc.

The following guide sheet will help you conceptualize your paper:


The paper may be organized around your (sociological) interests, but it is important to consider two or more of the following topics in your paper:

      Gender equity and/or gender relations (on the court, in the stands, coach-athlete relations)

      Race or ethnic relations (racial and ethnic make up of team, fans, etc.; who sits with whom and who talks with whom?)

      Peer group relations (cliques, groups, friendships; interaction at halftime, during the game, cheering)

      How the social activity in the stands represents the culture and social organization of social life at the school

      Social class issues in the stands or related to participation in the sport

      Sports and popularity in the student culture at the school (for males, for females)

      The experiences of athletes (if you can talk with athletes after the game or apart from the game, ask them about their experiences and how they fit with the overall experience of going to school, related with other students, teachers, etc. Is there hazing on the team, and if so, what does it involve? What commitments do students have to make to play on the sport team?)

      Coach-athlete relationships (autocratic or democratic, positive or negative, coach behavior with players, extent to which players make decisions or control the game)

      Media coverage (compared to other varsity sports and other schools)

      The dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in social life at the school, the experiences of “nonathletes” or those who play non-varsity sports. Do varsity sports contribute to social unity in the school or do they create divisions? Is there bullying in the school, and are athletes involved?

      Cheerleaders and pep club (what they do, when, responses to them; how they define their experiences; criteria for being a cheerleader or pep club member)

      Spectators, including parents, other students, and teachers (talk with them if possible and ask them how they see varsity sports fitting into the school; ask them if they would rather see more inclusive programs related to lifetime sports for more students)

      Information from student spectators (What brings them to the game? What do they enjoy most? When is it most exciting or boring? What other sports do they attend or play? What would change if there were no varsity sports? Do they have intramural sports? How do athletes and other students get along?)

      Information from teachers (How do they see sports fitting in to the overall educational experiences of students?)

      For college sports: Funding issues, attitudes related to the use of student fees to support the program; all the above issues also

      Other issues:

o   Who is left out of the experience? (students with disabilities, students who are smaller in size, eligibility issues?)

o   Who in the school benefits the most or the least from varsity sports?

o   Would anyone like to see alternatives to varsity sports? What alternatives might they want to see?


Criteria for evaluation of the paper include: 1) content, 2) adherence to assignment guidelines, 3) integration  of relevant class materials/references, and 4) organization, writing clarity and grammar.

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