Fair or foul? An investigation into the common stereotypes of athletes.
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIn recent years, athletes have been stereotyped as drug abusers, scholastic cheaters, and anti-heroes who are interested in winning at any cost. This stereotype may stem from adverse publicity about a few athletes who have bent the rules in their own selfish interests, others who are interested in maintaining a 'macho' image, the increasing vigilance of the NCAA over college athletic programs, and the passing of Proposition 48, which has tended to highlight the failure of some schools adequately to prepare their students for higher education. What little empirical research has been done targeting or identifying high school athletes has shown this image to be false. This dissertation examines attitudes, life-styles, and drug behavior of college athletes and shows that the common stereotype is contradicted by data on athletes in general. College athletes are as interested in academic success as any other college students. They did, in fact, earn better grades in high school than their peers, and remain equal in scholarly achievement throughout their college careers. Athletes use fewer drugs, and use them less frequently, than other college students. They did not experiment with drugs during grade school, junior high, or early high school years as often as did their classmates, negating the idea that they would use more drugs if not faced with newly instigated mandatory drug testing. An examination of the major theories of deviance has shown that the elements of Hirschi's Social Control Theory, plus elements of Zuckerman's Sensation Seeking Theory and Weil's Theory of the Natural Mind, can explain most of the differences in drug use between athletes and non-athletes on the college campus. Other theories that were examined here, Strain, Cultural Deviance, and Power-Control, failed to prove useful when trying to explain these differences.