Athletes Greatly Benefit from Participation in Sports at the College and Secondary Level

40 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2021

See all articles by James J. Heckman

James J. Heckman

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Colleen P. Loughlin

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: July 19, 2021

Abstract

The recent Supreme Court decision NCAA vs Alston (June 2021) has heightened interest in the benefits and costs of participation in sports for student athletes. Anecdotes about the exploitation of student athletes were cited in the opinion. This paper uses panel data for two different cohorts that follow students from high school through college and into their post-school pursuits to examine the generality of these anecdotes. On average, student athletes’ benefit- often substantially so—in terms of graduation, post-collegiate employment, and earnings. Benefits in terms of social mobility for disadvantaged and minority students are substantial, contrary to the anecdotes in play in the media and in the courts.

Keywords: sport economics, social mobility, returns to education

JEL Classification: Z2, I320, I260

Suggested Citation

Heckman, James J. and Loughlin, Colleen P., Athletes Greatly Benefit from Participation in Sports at the College and Secondary Level (July 19, 2021). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2021-86, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3890303 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3890303

James J. Heckman (Contact Author)

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Colleen P. Loughlin

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