The dumb jock stereotype

Student-athlete aka dumb jock stereotype

First I want to apologize to everyone who reads my blog, because I have been doing all of you a disservice. I stated that the majority of my work would be based on peer-reviewed research, and while it has, I could have presented my articles based primarily on research and less opinion based. Lately, it has been mostly opinion based with research to back it up, but not the other way around. So for this, I apologize. I have no excuse. I have had many personal changes and stressors in my life lately, therefore the quality of this blog has suffered because of it, but am making alterations in my life to ensure that from now on it will be more research based, and then my professional opinion and reflections based upon the research.

Stone performed research on how the dumb jock stereotype negatively influences student-athlete academic performance. Whether athlete’s know it or not, when they are referred to as “student-athlete’s” their academic performance decreases, especially if they are male, African American or otherwise more interested in their sport than academics. Why is that? Because the athlete brain is trained to absorb and respond to everything they hear. When a coach gives a correction, the athlete trusts the coaches expertise and responds. Therefore, when teachers, parents, classmates etc give athletes either verbal or non-verbal cues that they are inherently not academically good students their brains respond by conforming to these cues. Verbal cues are pretty self-explanatory. The non-verbal cues however are more difficult to notice. Those could be teachers providing athletes with special care, or better grades than they deserved, simply because they are athletes. It can also take the form of athletes not qualifying for academic honor roll, or dean’s list.

Stone conducted research with college student-athletes, taking tests using standardized test questions such as the GRE or SAT. In the beginning the experimental group self-identified as athlete, or scholar athlete. The control group identified themselves as a research participant. The experimental group on average performed worse than the control group. From this, Stone concluded that those who are perceived as athletes or scholar athletes have an unconscious reaction to perform worse academically. In my professional opinion there are several flaws in this research design, and I would recommend a replication of the study with some modifications in order to make a stronger correlation between the two. But nonetheless there is some merit to this study. Athletes while being idolized because of their athletic ability, are subject to negative stigma and stereotyping from others. In addition, athletes are not solely their sport, they have lives outside of their sport which ought to receive nurture and attention as well. The vast majority of athletes do not make careers from their sport, but rather have dreams of curing cancer, or being a teacher. This means, their education and minds need to receive equal attention and better treatment from their academic peers and professors compared to their athletic ability.

In closing, here is a short video in which I hope will help heal your soul, and remember that athletes are people too, just trying to make the world a better place.

Stone, J. 2012. “ A hidden toxicity in the term “student-athlete”: Stereotype threat for athletes in the college classroom.” Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy.



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