An examination of equal access in athletic programs throughout public high schools in the United States
The mission of the U.S. Department of Education is “to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access” (www.ed.gov). As an extension of U.S. public education institutions, secondary afterschool programs involving physical activity are theoretically designed to enhance and support the educational mission of public schools. Yet, due to the hyper-commodification of youth sports, “equal access” in sport and physical activity is becoming increasingly limited to parameters grounded in highly competitive environments reflecting broader sport trends in society. An interesting paradox emerges in public school settings where the importance of physical activity for adolescents is also emphasized. However, in reality, the majority of public tax dollars funding extracurricular opportunities to be physically active are only for those who are highly competitive, physically literate and have the financial means to assist in the funding of their sport experiences. There are also issues related to gender in terms of who is being served. Therefore, it is importance to examine how public resources relating to physical activity and health are being unequally allocated in the public school setting.
Bocarro, J. N., Kanters, M. A., Edwards, M. B., Casper, J. M. & McKenzie T. L. (2014). Prioritizing school intramural and interscholastic programs based on observed physical activity. American Journal of Health Promotion, 28(3), S65-S71.
Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Buchanan, R. R. (2011). The pleasure and participation sports model as reflected through an Advanced Physical Education course. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_graddiss/1062.
Budig, G. A. (2007). An athletic arms race. Phi Delta Kappan, 89(4), 283-284.
Center for Science in the Public Interest (2007). Sweet deals: School fundraising can be healthy and profitable. Retrieved from http://www.cspinet.org/ school fundraising.pdf.
Coakley, J. (2015). Sports in society: Issues and controversies (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Cooky, C. (2009). “Girls just aren’t interested”: The social construction of
interest in girls’ sport. Sociological Perspectives, 52(2), 259-284.
DeSensi, J. T. (2014). Sport: An ethos based on values and servant leadership. Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, 7, 58-63.
DeSensi, J. T. & Rosenberg, D. (2010). Ethics and morality in sport management (3rd ed.). Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University.
Donaldson, A. (2013, March 5). High school sponsorship contracts raise
concerns, but also benefit programs. Deseret News. Retrieved from http://www.deseret news.com.
Drotar, B. (2015). The recruiting code: Deciphering the college selection process for the student athlete. New York, NY: Bryan Drotar.
Frisch, A., Croisier, J., Urhausen, A., Seil, R., & Theisen, D. (2009). Injuries, risk factors and prevention initiatives in youth sport. British Medical Bulletin, 92, 95-121.
Giulianotti, R. (2015). Supporters, followers, fans, and Flâneurs: A taxonomy of spectator identities in football. In D. Karen, & R. E. Washington, (Eds.), Sociological Perspectives on Sport (249-262). New York, NY: Routledge.
Institute of Medicine Report - Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School (2013, May). Retrieved from http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2013/Educating-the-Student-Body-Taking-Physical-Activity-and-Physical-Education-to-School.aspx).
Johnston, L. D., Delva, J., & O’Malley, P. M. (2007). Sports participation and physical education in American secondary schools: Current levels and racial / ethnic and socioeconomic disparities. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33(4), S195-208.
Journal of Amateur Sport. (n.d.). Mission and purpose. Retrieved from
Kane, M., & LaVoi, N. (Eds.). (2007). The 2007 Tucker Center Research Report, developing physically active girls: An evidence-based multidisciplinary approach. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.
Larsen, B. A., Pekmezi, D., Marquez, B., Benitez, T. J., & Marcus, B. H. (2013). Physical activity in Latinas: Social and environmental influences. Womens Health, 9(2), 201-210.
Mechikoff, R. (2013). A history and philosophy of sport and physical
education. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
National Center for Education Statistics (2015). Retrieved from
National Federation of State High School Associations (2015). 2012-13 High school athletics participation survey. Retrieved from http://www.nfhs.org/.
Odenheimer, E. (2012). Adaptations of yoga: Christian interpretations. (Doctoral dissertation). Received from http://trace.tennessee.edu/
Pangrazi, R. P., & Beighle, A. (2010). Dynamic physical education for elementary school children (16th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pearson.
Pontifex, M. B., Saliba, B. J., Raine, L. B., Picchietti, D. L., & Hillman, C. H. (2013). Exercise improves behavioral, neurocognitive, and scholastic performance in children with attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Pediatrics, 162, 543-551.
Rader, B. G. (2008). American sports: From the age of folk games to the age of televised sports (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc.
Ratey, J. J. (2008). SPARK: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Real Sports. (2015, March 24). The wreckage. Retrieved from
Staurowsky, E. J., DeSousa, M. J., Miller, K. E., Sabo, D., Shakib, S., Theberge, N., Veliz, P., Weaver, A., & Williams, N. (2015). Her Life Depends On It III: Sport, Physical Activity, and the Health and Well-Being of American Girls and Women. East Meadow, NY: Women’s Sports Foundation.
Stevens, T. (2015, July 25). Analysis finds ties between wealth, winning in NC high school sports. The News and Observer. Retrieved from http://www.newsobserver. com/sports/high-school/article28720411.html
Sepulvado, J. (2014, October 17). In context: The big business of high school sports. Marketplace Economy. Retrieved from www.marketplace.org.
Walsh, A. & Giulianotti, R. (2007). Ethics, money and sport. New York, NY: Routledge.
Wann, D. L., Belva, B., Armstrong, S., Weaver, S., & Ladd, S. (2015).
Investigating the impact of team identification on the willingness to commit verbal and physical aggression by youth baseball spectators. Journal of Amateur Sport, 1(1), 1-28.
WCPS (2015). Student Athletic Handbook.
Wellness program (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.wcs.k12.va.us
What effect do AAU/travel ball teams have on sport participation at the high school and middle school level? (2014). JOPHERD, 85(7), 46-47.
Wiggins, D. K. (2013). A worthwhile effort? History of organized youth sport in the United States. Kinesiology Review, 2, 66-75.
Copyright (c) 2016 Rebecca R. Buchanan, Eleanor F. Odenheimer, Tanya R. Prewitt-White
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC-ND) License
1. License. You retain the copyright for your work. You here by grant to us a worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, sublicensable license to:
• Reproduce, distribute and display the edited manuscript in the Journal of Amateur Sport (and other publications prepared by us or on our behalf) in any media now or hereafter known (including without limitation electronic publications such as the Internet, Google Scholar, and social media)
We do not restrict your distribution or use of the manuscript following publication in the Journal of Amateur Sport (in fact, we encourage it!). However, we have the right to publish the manuscript first on the journal website. Thus, the foregoing licenses are exclusive to us prior to our publication of the manuscript. You confirm that you have disclosed to us all previous or pending public disseminations of the manuscript, including without limitation any publications or acceptances by other journals or disseminations via websites or conference proceedings.
2. Other Confirmations. You confirm that you are the manuscripts sole author(s); you have the right to convey the foregoing licenses; the manuscript does not infringe any third party copyright, publicity/privacy right or other proprietary right; and the manuscript is not defamatory or otherwise unlawful. You shall defend and indemnify us against all claims based on any alleged breach of your confirmations in this contract.
Compensation: You will receive one (1) free copy (PDF) of the article published online in the Journal of Amateur Sport. You will receive no royalty or other monetary return from the Journal of Amateur Sport for use of the article. You do, however, have our extreme gratitude!
3. Entire Contract. This contract is the sole and exclusive agreement between the parties regarding the manuscript and supersedes all prior conversations and understandings regarding its subject matter. This contract may be modified or supplemented only by a mutually signed writing.