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Research Review

Bouncing back: sports and academic resilience among African-American males.

Braddock II, J.H., Royster, D.A., Winfield, L.F., Hawkins, R. (1991). Bouncing back: sports and academic resilience among African-American males. Education and Urban Society, 24(1), 113-131.

PURPOSE: Examined school sports programs, minimum grade point average for sports participation, student demographics, educational plans, peer status, and academic investments as indicators of academic resilience.


  • Rutter (1978) Found that academic resilience is similar to the persistence that is generated through students’ athletic involvement. Rutter found four types of mechanisms to mediate adverse circumstances, each of which sports involvement is ideally suited, they are: reduce impacts of risks, reduce the likelihood of negative chain reactions associated with adversity, establish and maintain self-esteem and self-efficacy, and create new opportunities for success.
  • Nettles (1989) found that sports competition contributes to self-esteem and self-efficacy.
  • Coleman (1990); Dane (1990); Wilson (1990) found that sports create opportunities for students to excel and to fit into the school community in a meaningful way.
  • Braddock (1980); Picou (1978) found significant positive associations between athletic participation and educational performance, attitudes, and future goals among African-American males.


  • Data was drawn from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, conducted by the U.S. department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.
  • Data sample: 1,140 African-American males in public schools.
  • Procedure: Multiple regression analyses was used to evaluate the effects of interscholastic and intramural athletic participation on academic resiliency as measured by educational aspirations, investments in proacademic behaviors, and social status among peers.


  • Found that sports participation is positively associated with African-American eight-grade males’ aspirations to enroll in academic or college-prepatory programs in high school, plans to graduate from high school, and plans to attend college.
  • Sports participation has social status advantages, including popularity and a sense of importance.
  • Athletes were less likely to be involved in school-related social misconduct, more likely to look forward to classes, and less likely to be judged as not giving their full effort in class work (intramural only).
  • Implies that several aspects of athletic participation may facilitate academic resilience. Academic incentive is added by minimum requirement GPA. Athletic training requires consistent investment in the form of conditioning and practice, adherence to the rules, willingness to work with others, and the ability to persist in the face of losses, and to evaluate the reasons for the loss. Participation in sports may teach the tools necessary for academic resilience.

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