Academic Engagement among African American Males Who Hold Aspirations for Athletic Careers in Professional Sports


Coleman's seminal work, The Adolescent Society (1961), sparked a debate over the relationship between participation by students in extra- curricula activities and academic engagement that continues into the present. Coleman found a negative correlation between involvement in extra-curricula activities and academic success, and concluded that the time and energy devoted to extra-curricula activities directed precious time away from proper academic achievement (Coleman 1961). Since participation in sports has been a major extra-curricula activity in schools for the nearly 50 years following Coleman's seminal work, much of the debate has centered on the relationship between sports participation and academic success in middle and secondary schools. Braddock (2005) notes that 82 percent of middle schools and 98 percent of high schools provide sports participation opportunities in school-based athletics, including opportunities for competition between teams from different schools. Subsequent research produced findings that challenged Coleman's conclusion that school-based athletics detract from student success and the educational mission of schools (see for example: Hanks & Eckland 1976; Braddock 1980; Braddock 1981; Snyder & Spreitzer 1990; Marsh & Kleitman 2003; Braddock 2005; Braddock, Hua & Dawkins 2007). In addition, other evidence indicates that sports participation has other positive benefits for adolescent development, including enhanced physical and mental well-being (Birrell 1983; Crocker et al. 2000), higher self- esteem (Birrell 1983; Bunker 1991; Coop & Rotella 1991; McHale 2001; Phillips 1998), decreased discipline problems (Marsh 1993), and reduced incidence of depression (Sabo, Miller, Melnick & Heywood 2004; Phillips 1998), suicide (Phillips 1998) and substance abuse (Dawkins, Williams & Guilbault 2006).


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