Americans can be influenced by politics or their racial identity when it comes to controversial issues in sport, a recent study suggests.
In one to study published on June 28, researchers found a clear separation of beliefs along political and racial lines on participants’ opinions on whether varsity athletes should be paid and whether athletes demonstrating during the national anthem are acceptable, Chris Knoester, associate professor of sociology at Ohio State and co-author of the study, said.
“What we’re finding is that having the experience of being white and identifying as white in America seems to encourage people to see the world in a very different way than people do. who are not white in America, ”Knoester said.
According to the study, 69% of white adults surveyed oppose college athletes receiving payment and 73% are against forms of protest during the national anthem. Black adults were more likely to be in favor of both issues, with 29% against the payment and 32% against the rights to protest.
Latino adults and other people of color were more likely to support athlete rights in these situations, but not as much as black adults, Knoester said.
Rachel Allison, associate professor of sociology at Mississippi State University and co-author of the study, said those who oppose the right of athletes to protest during the national anthem tended to consider the action as a matter of patriotism.
“This is the nature of what patriotism is – one definition of patriotism is unconditional adherence to authority, unconditional respect for the traditions that surround the flag or the national anthem, ”Allison said.
Allison said this definition of patriotism stands in stark contrast to another framework adopted by others, in which patriotism is seen to challenge the status quo and demand that the country change its practices for the better. She said people who view patriotism from this framework recognize racial injustice as a deep problem.
The study used data from the America’s Pulse 2016 Classroom Survey, a survey distributed ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election that measured who Americans planned to vote for and their opinions on certain issues.
The study builds on the survey and brings to the fore issues of protest in sports during the national anthem and college athlete pay, as they are particularly relevant to black athletes, Allison said.
“These are also issues that, in the public debate, have been overly racialized – politics has become part of the public debate on these issues, ”Allison said. “In a time of truly blatant political polarization and division, this makes them truly appropriate to analyze. “
Knoester said the study applies critical breed theory – a theory that examines U.S. history from a lens that recognizes systemic racism as part of American society, according to Columbia university. The theory applied to how people viewed controversial issues in sports, he said.
“Disproportionately white people think fondly of history and often long for the past,” Knoester said. “When they think about today, they don’t think racial or ethnic inequalities or a lot of other things are particularly pronounced and problematic.”
Allison said that with recent policy changes allowing varsity athletes to take advantage of their name, image and likeness, more people can change their minds to promote athlete rights.
“We have seen a shift over time in the general public sentiment in favor of more support for athlete rights and across many of these issues, so more support than not more recently for athletes to receive. compensation at the collegial level, for the accessibility of protests – I think it goes hand in hand to some extent, ”Allison said. “Part of the reason we saw changes in name, image, likeness at the college level was due to growing public support.”