'If You Let Me Play': The Effects of Participation in High School Athletics on Students' Educational and Labor Market Success
42 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2001
Date Written: January 2001
The recent NIKE advertisement titled "If You Let Me Play," claims many benefits for girls who play sports. In contrast, there exists a hypothesis that today's society overemphasizes the role of sports to the detriment of some students, in particular inner-city minority males. This paper examines the effects of participating in high school athletics on students' educational and labor market success in order to test these two theories.
I make three contributions to the literature. First, I allow the athletics effect to vary across specific team and individual sports. Second, I use instrumental variables estimation to control for self-selection into sports. Finally, I use measures of peer involvement in sports, similar to other work on neighborhood effects, to instrument each individual student's athlete status.
Using nationally representative samples from High School and Beyond and the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, OLS results show that athletics contributes positively to educational and labor market success for all students except minority females. Controlling for the endogeneity of athletic participation, however, I find significant positive effects only for white students with respect to educational outcomes. This suggests that some of the seemingly beneficial effect of sports reflects underlying differences between athletes and non-athletes.
Keywords: athletics, sports, gender, race, neighborhood effects
JEL Classification: I2, J1, J24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation