Historically, African Americans and white girls have not had the same access to playing sports as white boys have had. Changes in laws led to racial integration of sports teams and equal athletic opportunities for girls. Yet, racial and gender gaps in playing sports persist, and intersections between race and gender, as well as different contexts of participation, may contribute to the gaps. This article uses structural resource and racial competition theories to examine the interactions among race, gender, and school environment to determine whether racial gaps persist for boys and girls and whether individual and school-level factors account for gender-specific racial gaps in sports participation. We combine data on every ninth-grade student in North Carolina public schools with data from school yearbooks and find that racial gaps in playing sports differ by gender, and that school factors—including opportunities schools provide to play sports—have unique influences on racial gaps for boys and girls.
Opportunities to play the game: The effect of individual and school attributes on participation in sports