Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Dr. Joseph Cooper, Dr. Laura Burton, Dr. Shaun Dougherty

Field of Study

Sport Management


Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


The role of interscholastic athletics within the educational setting has been questioned by critics including many scholars for the seemingly incongruence between its stated mission and actual institutional practices. There have been numerous studies that have examined high school athletic programs and primarily have focused on the academic and social benefits derived therein. Yet, sports and athletics are becoming increasingly important and popular in U.S. society and globally. The commercialization of sport and athletics is not a novelty in the U.S., but the increasing attention paid to high school athletics is a fairly recent and emerging phenomenon. In 2005, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) launched a subsidiary channel ESPNU and in 2006 the channel began producing and televising nationally ranked games between top high school football programs. As of 2017, there are numerous websites devoted to covering high school football and basketball, especially the players who rise to the top of the ranks. How they play and develop and ultimately what university they choose to attend is a national event. Despite this rise in attention for high school football there has been scarce scholarly investigation into its landscape. The aim of this study is to begin providing clarity on the high school football landscape in the U.S. including characteristics of schools, communities, and trends related to producing Division I football players. Using theories rooted in economic sociology on markets and labor, a theoretical concept is constructed in order to understand high school athletes as a product created to be bought and sold within multiple markets. The concept of the athletic-market economy and its various components are forwarded as a larger framework for understanding the production, distribution, and consumption of high school football, the larger football industry, and the athletic economy.

Major Advisor

Dr. Joseph Cooper