Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2008

Thesis Advisor(s)

Jeffrey Ogbar

Honors Major



African American Studies | American Popular Culture | American Studies | Arts and Humanities | History | Other American Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | United States History


In recent decades, countless scholars have examined the developing trend of African American dominance in United States’ professional sports. Many have hypothesized that this over-representation is caused by the presumed reliance on sports as an avenue out of poverty for the African American youths. This trend, it is believed, has a highly detrimental effect the African American community. In actuality, this argument is flawed because it works under the stereotypical assumption that the overwhelming majority of African Americans come from abject poverty. To dispel this fallacy, the author has analyzed the upbringings of each All-National Basketball League First Team player over the past thirty years. The author discovered that while the majority of the players selected were African American, only a small percentage of these athletes were raised in a poverty-stricken environment. Logically, this would not be the case if poor African Americans relied more heavily on sports than middle-class African Americans. This data proves that stereotypes, not empirical evidence, are the substance of nearly every previous study conducted on the topic.