Racial Stacking in Football

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Social Constructs Behind Racial Stacking and Stereotypes in Football

Sport as an institution has seen many of its records and barriers shattered over its countless years of existence. For instance, sport has seen Jackie Robinson break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, and Billie Jean King defeat former champion Bobby Riggs in “The battle of the sexes”. One barrier that still exists in sports today is racial stacking and stereotyping. The social phenomenon of racial stacking and stereotyping within the institution of sport has profoundly hindered the development and participation of particular races in different dimensions of sport. Racial stacking is a term coined by sociologists which refers to the over or under representation
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Speculations arose as to Owens having an extra bone in his leg, or elongated bones, all of which were proven to be false. Scientist found that biology was not a determinant in an individual’s ability to excel in sports; rather dedication, determination, and training are more influential factors (Dyreson, 2008).

One socioligical explanation as to why African Americans excel in athletics is because it is viewed as a way of upward social and financial mobility. Being one of the world’s largest institutions, sports generate billions of dollars in revenue each year. Specifically, the National Football League generates six billion dollars in revenue a year (Sports Industry Overview, 2009). The life of an NFL player is filled with fame, fortune and limitless opportunites, something that the majority of young children dream about. The reason we see more African Americans succeeding in sports is because they have limited resources and opportunities for upward social mobility elsewhere. With the poverty rate among African Americans so high (24.7 %) they often do not have the resources to excel in education so instead they look to sports as a way of socio-economic advancement (Bureau, Poverty, 2009). Sports sociologist Harry Edwards defines this concept of black youth using sports as a way of social mobility as “blind faith”. Edwards explains three reasons as to why black families push their
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