College Athlete Activism: A Critical Race Theory Analysis of Perceptions of Support in the Fight for Social Justice

Molly Harry – University of Arkansas

Through three tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT)—racism is ordinary, counter narratives, and commitment to social justice—this study surveyed athletes (n = 100) from one Power 5 conference on their perceptions of administrator and coach support received for their activism endeavors in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Overall, most athletes surveyed perceived administrators and coaches supported their efforts by encouraging them to engage in activism, providing educational resources about race and activism, creating a respectful environment, and offering verbal encouragement. However, some athletes expressed athletics leaders did not do enough to bolster their activism or did not know of any support offered by administrators or coaches. Implications for practitioners include using CRT to acknowledge and challenge systemic racism in athletics, listening to athletes’ counter stories to inform activism through sport support methods, and increasingly commit to social justice reform.