Want a Job in the Sports Industry? Study Shows Race Matters More Than Experience

sports-jobs-race-legalIt seems that misconceptions and prejudices are alive and well in the wonderful world of sports management and administration. A recent study done at North Carolina State University shows that race and gender mean more than experience when it comes to getting an entry-level position in the sports industry.

"Previous research has shown that management positions in the sports industry continue to be dominated by white males – and that a prejudice against blacks in managerial positions exists because of a perceived 'lack of fit' between being black and being a manager or leader," explains Dr. Heidi Grappendorf, assistant professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at NC State. "We wanted to find out – when all other factors were considered equal – what impact race had on hiring for entry-level sports management positions."

For the study, researchers created one-page résumés for fictitious job applicants. The resumes all included identical work and education experience, but changed factors such as race, sex and previous participation as an athlete. The results showed resumes with traditional black names rated significantly lower than their white counterparts in terms of overall likability, competency and likelihood of being hired.

The study also showed that male athletes benefit most from having an athletic background: They have been evaluated as more competent for upper-level positions when compared to male non-athletes, female athletes and female non-athletes with identical athletic qualifications. While white male athletes did not receive significantly higher ratings than the other applicants (i.e., both blacks and whites), they did receive the highest ratings of all groups in both hiring and competence ratings.

"Our findings indicated that for black males and females, athletic participation provided no advantage in hiring recommendations," Grappendorf says. "Clearly, athletic participation is not 'superseding' race. This contradicts previous findings indicating that the athletic role could be beneficial in the hiring process."

It's important to note that this study has nothing to do with professional athletes and physical performance. The positions it covers have more to do with management, administration, organization, marketing, etc. -- the business of sports, rather than the actual playing of them. Who would've thought this would still be the case in America in 2010?

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