Month/Year of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel Hawkins


Allport’s (1954) Intergroup Contact hypothesis suggests that interaction among people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds can reduce prejudice, particularly in situations that involve cooperation and common goals. Although participation in competitive sports may provide opportunities for cooperative interaction among people from different racial backgrounds, and athletic teams tend to be more diverse at higher levels (NCAA 2019), relatively little work has examined the contact hypothesis in this context. Using a national representative data set (N = 966), we examine whether respondents’ levels of competitive athletic experience are related to their attitudes toward African Americans. We find no bivariate relationship between athletic experience and racial attitudes, but multiple regression results reveal that gender and educational attainment moderate this relationship. The effect of athletic experience on tolerant racial attitudes is significantly positive for respondents who are female and who do not have a college degree, but negative for male and people with college degrees. These findings suggest that the contact hypothesis has utility in the sports context, but the effect of intergroup contact may be dependent upon individual characteristics.