A Sociological Analysis of the Intercollegiate Athletic Structure : Focusing on the Big-Time Sports of Division I Football and Basketball
Hayward, Dylan C.
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Analyzing the current structure of intercollegiate athletics through the lenses of social conflict theory allows for a greater understanding of the issues the social institution has. Using a historical perspective we are able to gain an understanding of how the values of capitalism have permeated this structure and had an effect on the student-athletes and the universities that house big-time athletics. The commercialization of this structure has had an increasing effect on the treatment of student-athletes as commodities and the diminished emphasis on education. We can see how the ruling classes within intercollegiate athletics use their hegemony to maintain the ideology of amateurism which marginalizes student-athletes but is still supported by the majority of the public. These young student-athletes are exploited for their athletic talent but are only compensated with the promise of a free education that many of them never receive. This is because the tremendous pressures put on these athletes make it difficult to attain a quality education and the system sees them as expendable. This relationship between big-time athletics and institutions of higher learning increases the visibility of the schools and their connection with the community, but this is countered by the damage done to student-athletes and the money poured into sports sometimes at the expense of academics. Universities need to focus more of their scholarly research on the exploitation of student-athletes and how institutions are affected by their relationship with big-time athletics.