Female Athletes Male Athletes: Examining the Relationship Between High School Athletics and Delinquency

Michelle Rathkamp, University of Arizona
James Head, University of Arizona
Antonio Dias, University of Arizona
Jason Clark-Miller, Montana State University

ABSTRACT
The popular notion that participation in high school athletics inhibits criminal involvement has received inconsistent support in the criminological literature. Of the relatively few studies that have evaluated the impact of athletic involvement on delinquency virtually none have included gender as a primary factor. Critics of criminological research argue that one of the greatest failings of the field is the lack of research concerning women's experiences, especially female involvement in crime. In essence, while there is great value in past and current research concerning crime much of this research does not attend to possible gender differences because gender is typically used as a control variable instead of a primary theoretical construct. The main focus of this research is to illuminate the social effects of athletics on both male and female participants' delinquency rates in comparison to each other and their non-athletic peers. S! pecifically, we intend to test the hypotheses that male and female athletes' delinquency rates are similar, but compared to their non-athletic counterparts are higher. Using data from the National Youth Survey (NYS) this paper contrasts competing explanations (such as social control, social learning, etc) for the association between delinquency and athletics and incorporates the female athletic experience.

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Updated 05/20/2006