A Study of Alcohol Responsibility Among College Athletes


This study examined alcohol related behaviors among college athletes and the impact of a one year, alcohol responsibility intervention program on reported behaviors. A sample of 150 athletes was selected to go through three specific alcohol responsibility intervention programs, funded by an NCAA Choices grant. The interventions involved the establishment of a peer mentoring and counseling program to encourage alcohol responsibility and address behavioral concerns; educational opportunities; and alcohol free socials associated with athletic events. Findings of this study indicated a decrease in problematic issues in two of the six indicator areas examined.


Problematic drinking on college campuses remains a significant concern for students in general and a growing concern for athletes in particular (Hingson, Heeren, Winter & Wechsler, 2005). Obviously when drinking behaviors among athletes become problematic, there is the potential to impact competitive performance, academic success and social development. This concern prompted the NCAA to establish the Choices Grants, aimed at combating irresponsible and problematic drinking among athletes. I utilized the funding from this grant to implement a 12 month intervention program on a campus that had been plagued with alcohol related issues among both the athlete and general student population. The intervention program involved peer training and mentoring, educational seminars, and social activities to address irresponsible alcohol behaviors.

Doumas, Turrisi, and Wright (2006) studied 249 college freshmen and found a disturbing prevalence of binge drinking among students and an even greater prevalence among athletes. They found that college athletes consumed an average of 5.07 drinks per weekend, former high school athletes 4.19 and non-athlete students 3.5 drinks per weekend. Thompson and Sherman (2007) further reported that between 1989 and 2005 the number of collegiate student-athletes who reported drinking 10 or more drinks in one sitting during the past 12 months significantly increased. This definition fits the description of problem drinking; however, this definition has been a debatable issue. Hanson (2007) defined problematic drinking in the college as five drinks for males and four drinks for females during one drinking experience. Although some consider this to be the problematic drinking threshold, alcohol experts, Lederman, Stewart, and Travis (2007) pointed out that the size of the drink, the body weight of the drinker, gender, and the length of time during the drinking experience are major factors that should be taken into consideration when defining problem drinking.

Brenner and Swanik (2007) reported the elevated consumption pattern of athletes over non-athletes. They examined the consumption patterns based on NCAA. The NCAA classifies schools into one of 3 categories based on the number of intercollegiate sports that a university offers, with Division One supporting the largest number of athletic teams, followed by NCAA II and lastly, NCAA III. They found that Division One schools reported more high risk or problematic drinking athletes (78%) as contrasted to NCAA II athletes (76%) and NCAA III athletes (67.5%) in a 12 month period. Nativ, Pubber and Green (1997) found that NCAA I athletes involved in contact sports, such as ice hockey and football, consumed alcohol at a greater frequency and quantity than their non-contact sport counterparts. This pattern was consistent among both males and females.

Wechsler, Davenport, Dowdall, Grossman, and Zanakos (1997) noted that 29% of male college athletes and 24% of female college athletes reported binge drinking three or more times in the past two weeks. In a subsequent study, Wechler, Lee, Kueo, Seibring, Nelson, and Lee (2002) reported that student-athletes were more likely to be occasional and frequent binge drinkers than non-athletes and that college students in general were more likely to be problematic drinkers than non-college students. DeHass (2006) noted problematic drinking has been shown to increase among athletes while they are out of their respective competitive season. Martin (1998) earlier brought attention to this finding by reporting that 56% of college athletes reported binge drinking while they were not in season, while 35% reported binge drinking in season.

Reasons for Abuse

Martens, O’Connor, and Beck (2006) speculated that the environment a college athlete faces itself could lead to alcohol abuse. Stainbeck (1997) theorized that college athletes travel more and are exposed to social settings that promote alcohol abuse. Some have suggested that athletes, as a result of their success, may also gain status in certain social settings where alcohol is more visible. To support this perspective, Crompton (1993); Neal, Sugarman, Hustad, Caska, and Carey (2005); and Madden and Grube (1994) presented theories noting a historical cultural link between alcohol and sporting events. Martens et al. (2006) speculated that the excessive time demands for college athletes may also lead to problematic alcohol problems. He also noted the possibility of social isolationism, as athletes are often separated from their non-athlete peers. He noted possible psychological pressures athletes feel as they experience demands to excel and to live up to coaches, fans, and family expectations. Physically, they also speculated that when athletes are injured, they may feel stressed about recovery and thus turn to alcohol. Lastly, Martens et al. noted another possible problem as a college athlete’s career ends, he or she may find it hard to define an identity outside of athletics, which could also lead to alcohol abuse.

There is also research that indicates problematic drinking among athletes may be over estimated by the athletes themselves. Leeper (2006) for example, identified studies which showed that college athletes overestimate the normal drinking rates both on campus and among their teammates. Leeper suggested that this inaccurate social norm, in and of itself, may lead to an increase in personal alcohol use as the athlete tries to keep up with the perceived, yet false norm. Clark (2008) found that only 20% of students reported drinking the previous night, yet they believed 50% of their student peers drank the previous night. Martens et al. (2006) stated that the theory of inaccurate social norms suggests that the tendency to abuse alcohol may frequently be motivated by perception.

Existing Intervention Programs

The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (2006) found that 71% of universities had a drug and alcohol education program for their students. The NCAA noted that most of the programs in athletic departments were funded by the Health and Safety Speakers Grant Program, the NCAA Champs/Life Skills programs, or the NCAA CHOICES alcohol education grant. Green, Uryasz, Petr, and Bray (2001) noted alcohol education programs in college athletic departments in 76% of NCAA I schools, 50% of NCAA II, and 41% of NCAA III athletic departments.

Mantel (2006) reported that over 2,400 colleges are using online courses to help reduce binge drinking among students. Austin (1997) reported that Woodson College administrators experimented to see if certain intervention strategies would decrease the use of alcohol among students. The college implemented a social norms campaign, alcohol-free socials and a peer education program. Austin noted the success of the program as students’ perceptions of the binge drinking rate on campus decreased and the reported number of drinks consumed per week decreased. Similarly, a nationwide study of students at 4 year colleges, Welschler, Seibring, Chao Liu, & Ahl (2004) documented the success of social norm campaigns in addressing responsible drinking. They found that 64% of students reported behavioral change due to social norm campaigns at their respective schools.

The NCAA (2008) has implemented and funded alcohol education programs in the name of “Choices” grants, aimed at encouraging social responsibility, not merely abstinence. The NCAA encourages expansion beyond education into the areas of social norms and provision of responsible activities along with the use of peer mentoring and referral training.

Brown (2008) reported on another program titled, “My Playbook.. The effort was initiated by researchers at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro in 2007, and was aimed at correcting erroneous social norms and equipping athletes with the tools to make better choices regarding alcohol.

To summarize, there have been many approaches, including restrictions from alcohol, social norm campaigns, peer mentoring, and educational programs, all established with an attempted to alleviate alcohol related problems among college students and athletes. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2002) summarized the research findings and programs and placed efforts into one of three tiers based on student’s perception of effectiveness and on empirical data related to prevalence of alcohol related problems among students. The first tier represented programs that had the best documented success rate when it came to reducing alcohol related problems and consumption on college campuses. These programs focused on cognitive-behavioral skills with norms clarification and motivational enhancement; brief motivational enhancement interventions; and programs that challenged alcohol expectancies. The NIAAA found that tier 2 programs, which focused on rules and sanctions and tier 3 programs, which focused on policy and education were both less effective. One common problem that surfaces in literature examining programs designed to reduce problematic drinking is that many of the success claims are reported in terms of either administrator’s or student’s perception of success as contrasted to empirical studies.

The purpose of this study, with the funding support of the NCAA, was to incorporate an NCAA Choices alcohol responsibility program at a public, regional NCAA II university. The intervention involved a combination of a social norm campaign; athlete peer mentoring and referral training, opportunities for non-alcohol parties associated with athletic contests and educational seminars regarding alcohol responsibility. The hypothesis of this study was that a 12 month, comprehensive alcohol responsibility initiative would have a significant impact on the reported behaviors and perceptions of collegiate athletes in an NCAA II institution.


This study was designed to incorporate a comprehensive alcohol responsibility initiative among college athletes with the intent of influencing alcohol consumption levels, attitudes, and problematic issues stemming from alcohol abuse. The specific focus was to incorporate and then subsequently examine the impact of a 12 month initative. The program was funded by an NCAA grant. It was directed toward the varsity athletes at a public, regional, NCAA II institution. The intervention consisted of four components. First, a social norm campaign was established which used athletes as poster models to depict social activities that were free of alcohol and to attempt to dispel false myths about the prevalence of alcohol consumption. This was to combat the student perception that alcohol was a requirement for fun and that everybody wanted alcohol at parties. Second, three alcohol and substance abuse educational sessions for athletes were presented to the athlete subject population. This consisted of a three part series of speakers, designed to bring attention to the perils of irresponsible drinking. Third, an athlete-peer mentoring and referral training program was created with two athletes from each team selected by their coaches to be participants. This group was trained in recognition of problems in the personal lives of athletes, particularly with alcohol abuse, and then in appropriate response and referral of their peers if necessary. There were also three campus-wide, alcohol-free parties hosted by participants in the initiative.


The subjects consisted of a random sample of 150 athletes in the fall of 2007 who were not subject to any intervention and 150 randomly selected athletes in the fall of 2008 that went through a 12 month intervention program. The 2008 subjects served as the quasi treatment group of this study. The total population of athletes was 282 during the entire study period. All participants were assured of anonymity and agreed to provide informed consent prior to participating in the Core Survey.


To measure the impact of the programs, the short form of the CORE Drug and Alcohol Survey (Core Institute, 2006) was given to the 2007 subjects and then to the 2008 subjects 12 months later. The survey was designed for use by universities and colleges to determine the extent of substance use and abuse on their campuses, including problematic drinking. The instrument generated responses that were categorized in to one of six broad-based areas, which I analyzed. The areas examined were (a) any alcohol use in past 12 months, (b) more than one binge occasion within past two weeks, (c) serious personal problem related to alcohol, (d) public misconduct in past 12 months, (e) belief that peers drink weekly, and (f) prefer no alcohol at parties.

For this study, problematic drinking was defined the same as binge drinking or as five or more drinks or beers at one setting. Serious alcohol associated problems were defined as concerns such as suicidal tendency, being hurt or injured, unsuccessfully trying to stop sexual assault. Public misconduct was defined as some form of undesirable activity such as trouble with police, fighting, excessive argument, vandalism, or driving while intoxicated. The Core Institute (2006) has documented the reliability and validity of the instrument.

Data Analysis

The responses of the 2007 control group subjects were compared to the responses of the 2008 treatment intervention subjects in the six different assessment areas of the Core Survey. This analysis was used to measure the alcohol related behaviors and attitudes of the 2007 control group as contrasted to the 2008 treatment intervention group. For purposes of this study, a one-tailed t test was used to determine if a significant difference existed between the responses of the control and treatment groups on the responses in the 6 categorical areas of the short form of the Core Survey. The 0.05 level of confidence was used.


The self-reported behaviors of athletes were significantly impacted during the 12 month period of this study in 2 of the 6 categorical areas examined. There were no significant changes in the remaining 4 categorical areas. The 2008 subjects, collegiate student-athletes enrolled in a state supported, regional NCAA II University, were exposed to a systematic 12 month alcohol responsibility intervention program that focused on education, peer mentoring, social norm campaigns, and alcohol free, social opportunities.

As seen in Table 1, the findings indicated a statistically significant improvement ( t = 2.093, p = .041) in the number of athletes reporting binge drinking occasions within the two weeks prior to the administration of the Core Survey. The number dropped from 65% to 42% of the subjects. Also, there was a significant decrease (t=1.72, p=.039) in the reported alcohol-related personal problems of the treatment group. These problems may have been issues such as suicidal tendency, being hurt or injured, sexual assault, or arrest. Reported problems dropped from 41% to 18% of subjects reporting such incidents.

Table 1

Athletes Reporting of Alcohol Responsibility Issues and Perceptions Before (2007) and After (2008) an Alcohol Responsibility Intervention Program (N=300)

some use in last 12 months≥1 binge occasion in recent 2 weeksserious personal problem related to alcohol≥1 public mis-conductbelieve peers drink weeklyprefer no alcohol at parties

2007 88% 65% 41% 56% 100% 22%
2008 73% 42% 18% 39% 82% 28%
t 1.27 2.09 1.72 1.68 1.49 0.81
Sig. .214 .041* .039* .269 .272 .371

Note. *p< .05, one tailed test, df=∞


There was a significant decline in the reported prevalence of alcohol binge activity and serious personal problems related to alcohol following the 12 months of the alcohol responsibility program intervention. The decline may be credited to a diverse intervention that included education, peer mentoring and referral training, social norm campaigns, and alcohol free socials. However, it was difficult to control outside variables which also could have had an impact. One example was the infusion of new coaches on to the athletic staff during the 12 month intervention period.

Nonetheless, there is something about athletes that generates a higher level of problematic drinking. Is it the innate, risk-taking personality that may be required to be a college athlete or the basic competitive nature that lends itself to drinking games as suggested by Martens, et al. (2006). It may be the pressure or as Doumas et. al. (2006) suggested, the attachment avoidance documented among college athletes, which may result in a feeling of isolation on campus. This isolation could be the stimulus that encourages athletes to turn to alcohol.

Doumas, et al. (2006) proposed that the problem may already be ingrained by the time the athlete graduates from high school and may not be the result of any collegiate influence, opportunities or pressures. He supported this theory by documenting that collegiate non-athletes who were former athletes in high school exhibited a greater prevalence of problematic drinking than the general student population. If this is the case, the research population needs to change to a much younger age and the emphasis of intervention programs needs to shift to the high school athlete population.

Regarding norms, the finding that 28% of subjects in this study indicated a preference to not have alcohol at parties while the subjects of this study believed that 82% of their peer athletes consumed alcohol weekly presents a dichotomy. In general, there appears to be an inaccuracy between what athletes assume is normal for a social life and what they prefer, related to alcohol.

There are some general implications from the findings of this study that may be applicable for coaches and administrators. First, an active alcohol responsibility initiative involving education, awareness, peer influence and opportunities for alcohol free activities are likely to have an influence on irresponsible drinking. Additionally, the value of correcting erroneous social norms among athletes cannot be underestimated and is deserving of more investigation.

To better understand and identify the sources of the problems related to alcohol abuse, it appears that studies aimed at the high school level, or younger, might reveal helpful information regarding athletes. Perhaps the culture of linking sports to alcohol, both form a spectator and competitor viewpoint, is learned at the high school level or earlier and should be a target for study. Regardless, attention to the high prevalence of problematic drinking among college athletes remains important as coaches try to assist in the total development of their protégés.


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Prevention of ACL Injuries in Female Athletes through Early Intervention


With respect to physical education, increased participation in sport equals success. One of the main goals of physical educators is to enable individuals to become proficient in lifelong activities. Hopefully, this proficiency will lead to a healthier and more fulfilling life. Beginning with Title IX and continuing over the last two decades, there has been an explosion of youth sports opportunities. As children have begun to participate in sports programs at earlier ages, parents have started feeling pressure to enroll their children in similar programs in order for them to remain competitive. As a result, children become increasingly proficient at their respective sports at earlier ages. This proficiency, while benefiting the respective sport, is not without its consequences. One of the most notable consequences of increased participation in sports at an earlier age is in the area of sports injuries (Rentrom, 2008).


Over the last two decades, female participation in sport has risen dramatically. Moreover, the rate of females acquiring injuries to their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) has risen at an alarmingly dramatic rate. According to recent studies by Arendt (1995), females are between two to eight times more likely to injure their ACL than their male counterpart in similar sporting events. Typically, these injuries are occurring in sports such as basketball, volleyball and soccer. Participants in these sports are usually involved in a lot of quick cutting motions, jumping motions and rapid slowing or decelerating movements. ACL injuries generally prevent a student from participation throughout the remainder of the season, and some injuries can permanently end a student’s ability to successfully participate (Rentrom, 2008).

The Cost

ACL injuries usually come at a very high cost to the participant and their family. The cost of the medical treatment alone can easily run thousands of dollars. Moreover, this type of injury can greatly reduce an athlete’s self esteem and confidence. Therapy must also be considered, which places a high burden on family members with respect to the time lost and money spent. These losses combined, often make ACL injures catastrophic losses to athletes and their families.


With approximately 70% of ACL injuries coming from non-contact incidents, many studies have been conducted in order to find causes or preventative measures to counteract the problem. These studies have attempted to narrow the causes and help reduce the occurrence of ACL injuries in female athletes. Presently, research has narrowed its focus to a handful of probable causes. In female athletes, the factors include, but are not limited to: Increased valgus movements during landing, pre-menstrual hormone levels, narrower intercondylar notch width and smaller AC ligaments (Griffin, L. Y., 2000). Research has also noted different firing sequences of leg muscles in male and female athletes. These firing differences help explain some of the different responses that females exhibit to athletic movements and thereby expose themselves to higher risk during those movements. As a result, females find themselves at a biomechanical disadvantage to males when it comes to ACL strength and stability (Ireland, 2002).


The good news is that studies have concluded that the incidence of ACL injuries can be reduced through neuromuscular training (Roniger, L. R., 2007). With this type of training, females have been shown to reduce valgus moments when landing (Foster, J. B., 2007). Moreover, as a result of the training, female athletes can incorporate more muscular control and experience less ligament dependence during movements such as cutting, landing, jumping and rapid deceleration. With appropriate training, which can and should be done in the physical education classroom, female athletes can significantly reduce their risk of a catastrophic non-contact ACL injury (Mandelbaum, 2005).

Muscular training to reduce the risk of ACL injuries is not a difficult task. Furthermore, the training falls right into the Physical Education guidelines of helping individuals lead healthier and more satisfying lives. Certainly all of the muscles in the leg would benefit from strength training and stretching, however, this paper will focus on the larger muscles in the Hamstrings and Quadriceps. Most athletes have strong quads because of the amount of work that those muscles do during exercise. A study by Chappell, J., et.al. in 2007 concluded that females landed with less knee flexion, increased quadriceps activation and less hamstring activation. This resulted in increased ACL loading during the landing phase and therefore increased the risk of damage. With this in mind, greater hamstring strength should be a priority in most female athletes. The hamstrings, however, are often overlooked during training. There is much debate, but generally the hamstrings should optimally fall within 60 – 80% of the strength of the quads. The following hamstring strengthening exercises would work well for school Physical Education programs. The first exercise is the squat. A slight bend in the waist and a deep knee bend are necessary to lower your hands to the floor. After your hands have touched the floor and you have counted to three, then return to the starting position. Throughout the exercise, your back must be straight so that the legs and buttocks do the work. The second exercise is the leg curl. This exercise is done from the standing position, preferably facing a table or a stage. While keeping the right leg straight, bring the left foot up toward the buttocks. You should feel the strain in your hamstring as you touch your left heel to your buttocks. Repeat the exercise until the hamstring is fatigued. Repeat with the exercise with the right leg as you keep the left leg straight. The third exercise is the kickback. Stand close to and facing a wall. While keeping the right leg straight, kick the left backwards as far as possible. This will vary from one to three feet depending upon flexibility. Keep the left leg at the furthest position for a count of one. Move the left leg to the initial position. There should be very little bend at the waist and both the legs must be kept straight throughout the exercise. Repeat the procedure for the right leg while keeping the left leg straight. Toe raises will also help stabilize the knee. Simply stand with you feet about shoulder width apart and lift your heals, one at a time, as high as possible before lowering them back to the ground. Start off with sets of 10 and increase as possible.

The final area which can be easily addressed in physical education programs and will help reduce the risk of ACL injures is jump training. These jumping exercises should be conducted with proper form. Proper form includes keeping the legs together, not allowing the knees to come apart, landing softly with bent knees, and finally, forcing the individual to remain balanced at all times. Do not allow anyone to rush through the exercises. These jumps should be over a small cone and should incorporate both legs at the same time. The first set should be done by jumping forward over the cone and then jumping backwards to the initial starting position. The second exercise would be to have the individual jump from side to side over the cone and then jump back to the original position.

These exercises, if done correctly and in conjunction with a proper stretching regimen, could help reduce the incidence of ACL injuries in female athletes. Further tracking of female students participating in a structured physical education setting would substantiate the reduction of this type injury.


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Roniger, L. R. (2007, October). ACL prevention programs show benefit for teen athletes. J Biomechanics.

Foster, J. B. (2007, November). Soft landing studies find effects beyond sagittal plane of knee. J Biomechanics.

Mandelbaum, B.R., Silvers, H. J., Wantanabee, D.S., et al. (2005). Effectiveness of a neuromuscular and proprioceptive training program in preventing anterior cruciate ligament injuries in female athletes: 2-year follow-up. Am J Sports Med, 33, 1003-10.

Rentrom, P., Ljungqvist, A., Arendt, E., et al. (2008). Non-contact ACL injuries in female athletes: An international Olympic committee current concepts statement. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 42, 394-412.

Ireland, M. L. (2002). The Female ACL: Why is it more prone to injury? Orthopedic Clinics of North America, 33, issue 4.

Chappell, J.D., Creighton, R.A., Giuliani, C., Bing Y., Garrett, W.E., (2007). Kinematics and elecgtromyoghrapy of landing preparation in vertical stopping. Am J Sports Med, 35, 235-241.

Incorporating the Criminal Law in Sport Studies


The purpose of this article is to provide an outline for teaching the criminal law in a sport studies (or related) course. While the discussion of crimes in sport usually begins with illegitimate physical force or confrontation during the sports contest, criminal misconduct may also involve non-violent behavior. For example, the recent allegations of point-shaving at the University of Toledo demonstrate how non-violent (white-collar) crimes might occur in the legal environment of sport (Gilbert & Silka, 2009).

Crimes can be committed in all environments and at all levels: youth sport, recreational activities and leagues, amateur competition and in the professional ranks. Crimes can be committed by coaches, fans, parents, agents, referees, and others. The study of the criminal law and its relationship to sport is quite broad, so establishing a solid outline prior to teaching this section of any sport studies course is vital.


It is very important that the instructor—at the outset—compare and contrast the similarities between the criminal law and the civil (i.e., tort) law. In tort law, a private party plaintiff may sue a defendant for an assault or battery while the same defendant might be charged by the government (i.e., the state) for criminal assault or criminal battery. For each alleged criminal misconduct, the state must prove that an act occurred (actus reus) which violated a federal or state statute and that the defendant had the intent to commit such act (mens rea). The district attorney’s office makes the determination as when to prosecute for criminal misconduct based upon the evidence in the case and the willingness of the victim to press charges (New York Times, 2007).

The student should be encouraged to ask why prosecutors pursue charges in some sport incidents and not others. For example, why do Canadian jurisdictions prosecute misconduct during a hockey game substantially more than the American counterparts? A lot depends upon the locale’s expectations regarding what degree participants impliedly consent to certain conduct and to what extent the conduct be characterized as illegitimate (unacceptable) violence (Clarke, 2000; Katz, 2000; Harary, 2002; Yates & Gillespie, 2002; Barry, Fox & Jones, 2005).

Table 1
Categories of Crimes

Crimes Against Persons Crimes Against Property Crimes Against Public Health, Safety, and Welfare Crimes Against Government
Assault Counterfeiting of tickets and merchandise Conspiracy to commit a crime (solicitation) Human trafficking (assisting in illegal immigration)
Battery Embezzlement Cruelty to animals Illegal gambling (sports wagering)
Extortion (Blackmail) Theft Dangerous flying (parachuting) Mail and wire fraud
Fraud Trespassing Disorderly conduct Obstruction of justice
Hazing Vandalism Driving under the influence (DUI/DWI) Perjury
Manslaughter Point shaving (sports bribery) Racketeering (RICO) and organized crime
Mobbing Sports agent crimes Use, sale or possession of performance-enhancing drugs
Reckless Homicide Streaking/indecent exposure Tax evasion
Reckless Endangerment Ticket scalping
Voyeurism (Peeping Tom)

Assault and Battery

Beginning the study of the criminal law in sport with assault and battery before moving on to the other subjects is quite effective. The crimes of assault and battery involve the unwelcome and excessive physical contact between two or more persons. Definitions of assault and battery differ among the states and the student should be advised to research their own state statutes. However, the instructor should mention that the Model Penal Code was drafted to assist state legislatures in defining what constitutes criminal misconduct and to standardize and create more uniformity throughout the country with regard to the criminal law. It divides criminal assault into two categories: simple or aggravated (Osborne, 2006). A person is guilty of simple assault if he attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Similarly, a person is guilty of aggravated assault if there was the attempt to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; or attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon (Model Penal Code § 2.11.1; Osborne, 2006).

Implied Consent

In sports such as boxing, football, hockey, wrestling, and others, aggressive physical contact is an expected part of the contest. Some courts recognize this as the implied consent doctrine: that is, participants voluntarily assume certain risks of injury or violence during a sport activity. However, at what point does aggressive participation cross over into an excessively violent act in which a possible crime occurred? Is there a bright-line test in which participants, referees, coaches and spectators recognize that the type of violence which occurred is so far beyond the expected rules of the game that the participant could actually be charged with a crime such as assault or battery? The instructor carries the burden here of presenting such challenges for judges, and students must recognize that there is no clear-cut answer and each act of aggression or violence is different (Harary, 2002; State v. Guidugli, 2004).

In the Washington state case of State v. Shelley, a pickup basketball game turned into a brawl in which one player punched another in the face, breaking his jaw. In addition to the criminal charges, the court in the civil case utilized the Model Penal Code’s § 2.11 for guidance in determining whether or not such contact was reasonably foreseeable. The court affirmed the lower court decision and held that a participant in such an activity did not impliedly consent to throwing or receiving punches during a pickup basketball game.

The following sections discuss some of the more specific ways in which the discussion of the criminal law can enter the classroom. A few of the more important criminal laws are discussed as well as some of the significant cases in recent years in a variety of sports.

Sport Participants

Illegitimate violence in sport can occur in all activities. The concern over violence in sport has become so important that some have referred to it as an “epidemic” (Harary, 2002). Incidents abound involving players and entire teams before, during and after football games including the infamous bench-clearing brawl between University of Miami (Florida) players and Florida International University players in 2006. No arrests were made in the incident (ESPN.com News Services, 2006). In baseball, bench-clearing brawls are common as is the act of a pitcher intentionally hitting a batter. However, is this type of violence legitimate? Should the police arrest the players for assault and battery? In 2007, former major-leaguer Jose Offerman was thrown out of the game, arrested by police and charged with two counts of second-degree assault after charging the pitcher’s mound and swinging his bat at the opposing team in an independent league minor league game after he was hit by a pitch. He pleaded not guilty and was given two years special probation (Associated Press, 2007).

Hockey players’ overly aggressive misconduct has resulted in numerous legal cases including several criminal convictions especially in Canadian courts. In the twin Canadian cases of Regina v. Maki and Regina v. Green, Wayne Maki of the St. Louis Blues and Ted Green of the Boston Bruins were charged with assault after each attempted to swing their sticks among the shoving in an exhibition game in Ottawa. Maki connected with Green’s head, which resulted in a fracture of Green’s skull. The courts held that the amounts of force were not excessive, that players assumed certain risks in the game and that self-defense justified the actions. The assault charges were dismissed against both Green and Maki in the separate cases, though the Green court noted that sports leagues should not have players immune from criminal prosecution.

In Regina v. Ciccarelli, Minnesota North Stars’ Dino Ciccarelli hit Luke Richardson (Toronto Maple Leafs) with his stick during a game in Toronto in 1988. Ciccarelli was sentenced to one day in jail for the assault and received a $1,000 fine. The court wanted to send a message to fans and participants that certain types of violence in hockey cross the line (Clarke, 2000; Harary, 2002).


There are countless examples of spectators storming the field or court during a contest, not just among the post-game celebrations or skirmishes. Such actions have led to criminal prosecutions. In 2002, a father and son stormed the field and attacked Kansas City Royals first-base coach Tom Gamboa during a game against the Chicago White Sox in Chicago. The son pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and mob action and was sentenced to five years probation and community service. The father originally pleaded innocent, but he later changed his plea to guilty and was given 30 months probation, community service and to remain in a substance abuse program (Falkoff, 2003). In 2003, Pittsburgh Pirates member Randall Simon was cited for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and was fined $432 after he—while standing on the edge of the dugout—knocked a stadium worker involved in the spectator-friendly “sausage race,” which features fans dressed in over-sized caricatures involving a bratwurst, hot dog Italian sausage and Polish sausage between the sixth and seventh innings running around the bases for entertainment. Simon was handcuffed and taken to the Milwaukee County Jail after the game. The incident has become known as “Sausage-gate” (Associated Press, 2003; Luna, 2007).

Parents and Youth Sport

Incidents across the country, including shootings of high school coaches, have given national attention to parents involved in criminal youth sport misconduct (Associated Press, 2006a). New Jersey passed a law in 2002 increasing the punishment for assaults committed during youth sporting events, especially by intense, overzealous and in some cases “raging” parents. Now, the possible punishment is up to 18 months in prison and more than $10,000 in fines. The state law changed in response to a criminal case in which a parent was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter (an unintentional killing as a result of a battery) during a fight after a youth hockey practice. A Massachusetts jury convicted Thomas Junta rejecting claims that he acted in self-defense when he beat another father to death at a youth scrimmage during 2000. He was sentenced 6 to 10 years in prison (Harary, 2002; Commonwealth v. Junta, 2004).

Gambling (Sports Wagering)

Sports gambling (sometimes referred to as sports wagering) and point-shaving (intentionally fixing a game) do not involve any physical force per se. Federal and state governments have attempted to legislate anti-gambling prohibitions as sports gambling under the government’s general ability to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens under its constitutionally authorized “police power.” Protecting the integrity of a sports contest is obviously vital for fans and to be fair to competing gamblers where sport gambling is legal (Weinberg, 2003; Osborne, 2006). Though federal laws, such as the Wire Communications Act of 1961, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 (RICO) (organized crime), and the Bribery in Sporting Contests Act of 1979, emerged in the last several decades and have been applied in sport law prosecutions, there are newer attempts to regulate sports gambling many of which have been met with success (McCarthy a, b, 2007). The advent of the internet has greatly shaped the landscape with regard to sports wagering in professional sport (Liddell, 2004).

Sports Bribery (Game Fixing/Point-Shaving)

Sports bribery has been brought to light in recent years in sport and recreation law. In 2007, NBA referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to a gambling scandal involving wire fraud and transmitting gambling tips, and he was sentenced in 2008 to 15 months in prison (Timanus, 2007; Pugmire, 2008). In 2009, several University of Toledo athletes were indicted by federal authorities for alleged involvement in point-shaving schemes in conjunction with Detroit men (Gilbert & Silka, 2009). Too, there have been numerous gambling incidents related to amateur sport, particularly with regard to the NCAA (Udovicic, 1998; Jones & Handel, 2002).

The influential NCAA has a keen interest in protecting the integrity of its sports product and frowns upon any sort of sport-related gambling whatsoever (NCAA, 2004; Crowley, 2006; McCarthy a, b 2007). Therefore, the NCAA has enacted a rules manual (called Bylaws) which the Indianapolis-based organization enforces vigorously at all three divisions of competition (Copeland, 2004; Rogers and Ryan, 2007). Many of its Bylaws relate to sports wagering. Other NCAA incidents included the University of Kentucky basketball team, which played no schedule for the 1952-53 season due to a point-shaving scandal that rocked the nation in 1951. Historically, collegiate sports gambling incidents abound and have included and affected schools such as Boston College (1978, 1996), Northwestern University (1994), and numerous others including several colleges and universities in Florida (McCallum & Hersch, 1997; Drape, 2003; Goldstein a,b,c,d, 2003; Grady & Clement, 2005; Maske, 2005; Merron, 2006; Gillispie, 2007; NCAA, n.d.).

Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act

A federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, was enacted to stop the spread of state-authorized gambling and to protect the integrity of sporting events generally. Nevada, the only state at that time that had legalized sports gambling, was granted immunity from this federal law (also known as the Nevada or “Las Vegas loophole”) which makes it unlawful for a governmental entity, or a person acting pursuant to the law of such an entity, to operate, sponsor, advertise, promote, license, or authorize a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based, directly or indirectly, on one or more competitive game in which amateur, Olympic or professional athletes participate. The states of Delaware, Montana and Oregon are also exempt from the Act which exempts pari-mutuel betting and jai alai games as well (Barlett & Steele, 2000; Slavin, 2002; Rychlak, 2003/2004).

Ticket Scalping

Reselling an event ticket is usually referred to as ticket scalping, a classic example of a sport-related crime. This practice of resale is regulated at the state level. Ticket scalpers attempt to find buyers of their tickets around the venue for the event. Today, scalping is often done through various secondary ticket marketing brokers online in addition to in-person. State laws and city ordinances which regulate ticket scalping focus on where a sale of a ticket may (or may not) take place and to what degree the scalper may (or may not) sell a ticket above its face value. Scalping laws were also enacted to prevent spectators from being harassed as they entered the sports arena and for safety reasons related to the flow of fans into the arena.

While there are no federal laws directly governing ticket scalping, several states and a number of municipalities have given up on the attempts to enforce scalping laws altogether. Many states have recently repealed their ticket-scalping laws. This appears to be a trend especially with the ease and access of reselling over the internet by companies such as StubHub.com, for example. The ticket-resale business has been dramatically changed by the on-line world of cyber-scalping. To enforce anti-scalping laws from sales on the internet may be impracticable but it appears that the selling of counterfeit tickets may be more of a governmental concern than the resale of tickets (Criscuolo, 1995; Gibbs, 2000; Osborne and Pittman, 2006).

Wire and Mail Fraud

The Wire Communications Act of 1961 is at 18 U.S.C. §1084. The purpose of the act is to criminalize gambling behavior which uses a wire communication (such as a telephone) to transmit to place illegal bets across state lines (i.e., via “interstate commerce”). The federal mail fraud statute (18 U.S.C. §1341) defines fraud as a “scheme” or artifice which uses the “mails” to execute the scheme. This statute is often used by United States Attorneys in the prosecution of white-collar crimes. Similarly, wire fraud (18 U.S.C. §1343) provides for a penalty for any criminally fraudulent activity involving electronic communications. These crimes have appeared in scenarios involving sports agents who recruit student-athletes to become their professional clients.

In United States v. Walters, Walters, a sports agent, was charged with conspiracy, RICO violations, and mail fraud. The mail fraud charge arose from his actions in which student-athletes violated NCAA rules by signing post-dated contracts with him and his associate Bloom. The federal government argued that the mail fraud statutes were violated because each university required its athletes to verify their eligibility to play by mail sent to the appropriate athletic conference. Walters was initially convicted by a jury, but that conviction was reversed on appeal. Conspiracy and racketeering (RICO) charges were ultimately dismissed (Goodman, 1998).


Incorporating the criminal law in the sport studies course can be a challenge. Establishing a solid outline for this section of a course is vital to the instructor’s success. Recent suspensions involving the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs, allegations of point-shaving schemes, and the continuing illegitimate violent physical misconduct by parents, players and spectators should provide the instructor and student alike considerable discussion with regard to the role of the criminal law in sport studies. The above outline and subject matter should provide a solid foundation for a successful section of criminal law in any sport studies course.


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Clarke, C. A. (2000). Law and order on the courts: The application of criminal liability for intentional fouls during sporting events. Ariz. St. L.J., 32, 1149.

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Commonwealth v. Junta, 815 N.E.2d 254 (Mass. App. 2004).

Copeland, J. (2004, December 6). Sports wagering survey focuses attention on high rates of misbehavior in Divisions II, III. The NCAA News, p. A3.

Criscuolo, P. (1995). Reassessing the ticket scalping dispute: The application, effects and criticisms of current anti-scalping legislation. Seton Hall Journal of Sport Law, 5(1), 189–221.

Crowley, J. (2006). In the arena: The NCAA’s first century. Indianapolis, IN: The NCAA.

Drape, J. (2003, March 5). McPherson is charged with gambling on team. New York Times, p. D2.

ESPN.com News Services. (2006, October 16). Miami, FIU have 31 suspended for role in brawl. ESPN.com. Retrieved December 31, 2008, from http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2627372

Falkoff, R. (2003, August 6). Gamboa attacker gets probation. MLB.com. Retrieved January 12, 2009, from http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20030806&content_id=462510&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

Fraud by Wire, Radio or Television, 18 U.S.C. §1343 (2008).

Gibbs, J. M. (2000, Spring). Cyberscalping: On-line ticket sales. University of Toledo Law Review, 31, 471–495.

Gilbert, M., & Silka, Z. (2009, May 7). 6 former University of Toledo athletes charged in point-shaving scheme. ToledoBlade.com. Retrieved May 9, 2009, from http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090507/SPORTS11/905070366/-1/SPORTS

Gillispie, M. (2007, May 6). Offshore bets sparked probe of ’05 games; FBI: Ex-Shaw star McDougle and Michigan gambler recruited players. USA Today, p. C11.

Goldstein, J. (2003a, November 19). Rumblings: The Brooklyn Five. ESPN.com. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from http://espn.go.com/classic/s/basketball_scandals_rumblings.html

Goldstein, J. (2003b, November 19). Explosion: 1951 scandals threaten college hoops. ESPN.com. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from http://espn.go.com/classic/s/basketball_ scandals_explosion.html

Goldstein, J. (2003c, November 19). Explosion II: The Molinas period. ESPN.com. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from http://espn.go.com/classic/s/basketball_scandals_molinas.html

Goldstein, J. (2003d, November 19). Recent scandals: BC, Tulane and Northwestern. ESPN.com. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from http://espn.go.com/classic/s/basketball _scandals_recent.html

Goodman, M. (1998). The Federal Mail Fraud Statute: The government’s Colt 45 renders Norby Walters and Lloyd Bloom agents of misfortune. Loyola Entertainment Law Journal, 10, 315–333.

Grady, J., & Clement, A. (2005). Gambling and collegiate sport. Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport 15(1), 95-112.

Harary, C. (2002). Aggressive Play or Criminal Assault? An In Depth Look at sports Violence and Criminal Liability. Colum. J.L. & Arts, 25, 197-217.

Jones, D., & Handel, C. (2002, July 16). Documents: Ex-Gator Dupay bet on college sports. USAToday.com. Retrived May 23, 2008, from http://www.usatoday.com/sports/

Katz, J. H. (2000). Symposium: Federalism after Alden: Note: From the penalty box to the penitentiary—The people versus Jesse Boulerice, Rutgers L.J., 31, 833.

Liddell, P., et al. (2004). Internet gambling: on a roll? Seton Hall Legislative Journal, 28, 315-353.

Luna, E. (2007). Bargaining in the shadow of the law-the relationship between plea bargaining and criminal code structure: victims, apology, and restorative justice in criminal procedure: traces of a libertarian theory of punishment. Marquette Law Review, 91, 263-294.

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Maske, M. (2005, February 27). McPherson to NFL: Take a chance on me; AFL player bring talent to checkered past to combine. The Washington Post, p. E8.

McCallum, J., & Hersch, H. (1997, December). Was the fix in at Arizona State? Sports Illustrated, 87(22), 21-22.

McCarthy, M. (2007a, March 28). College kids caught in gambling madness. USA Today, p. C1.

McCarthy, M. (2007b, May 9). Point-shaving remains a concern in college athletics. USA Today, p. C1.

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Osborne, B. (2006). Law for Recreation and Sport Managers, 4th ed. Criminal liability for violence in sports (Cotton and Wolohan, eds.).

Osborne, B. and Pittman, A. (2006). Law for Recreation and Sport Managers, 4th ed. Sport-related crimes: gambling, ticket-scalping-wire and mail fraud (Cotton and Wolohan, eds.).

Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, 28 U.S.C. §§3701-04 (2008).

Pugmire, L. and Johnson, J. (2008, June 12). Tim Donaghy’s claims of NBA fixing are met with doubts. LATimes.com. Retrieved January 1, 2009 from http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/12/sports/sp-nbafix12

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Regina v. Ciccarelli, 5 W.C.B(Ont. Prov. Ct., 1988).

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Regina v. Maki, 14 D.L.R.3d 164 (Ont. Prov. Civ. 1970).

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State v. Shelley, 929 P.2d 489 (Wash. Ct. App. 1997).

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Competitive State Anxiety among Junior Handball Players


The aim of the present study was to evaluate the levels of intensity and direction of the competitive state anxiety in junior handball players prior to a competition and to investigate any possible differences between male and female players, as well as in relation to their athletic experience. The sample of the study consisted of 115 handball players, members of eight handball teams (four male and four female), which participated in the Greek Junior Handball Championships finals held in Athens in 2008. For the data collection, the model used was the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-II (CSAI-II, Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump & Smith, 1983; Martens et al., 1990; Jones & Swain, 1992), which was modified for the Greek population by Stavrou, Zervas, Kakkos & Phychoudaki (1998). All players filled in the questionnaire 30 minutes before the competition. The results showed that male junior handball players reported lower scores of cognitive anxiety, which was facilitative to performance. On the other hand, females displayed a higher score in cognitive anxiety, which was rather debilitative to performance. Furthermore, junior male handball players displayed higher self-confidence, with positive effects on their performance, while female handball players stated lower self-confidence, which was neither facilitative nor debilitative to performance. In relation to years of experience, the results revealed that players with four to six years of experience showed higher self-confidence with facilitating direction, while players with less years of experience displayed lower self-confidence, with neither facilitative nor debilitative effects on their performance. In conclusion, the psychological preparation of junior handball players must be taken into serious consideration, during the coaching procedure. Nonetheless, further investigation is needed for the generalisation of the results in Greek handball.


It is generally recognized that psychological factors are of crucial importance in high-level competitive sports. The relation between anxiety and performance has been the subject of many thorough researches (Craft, Magyar, Becker & Feltz, 2003; Parfitt & Pates, 1999; Martens, Vealey & Burton, 1990). Cognitive anxiety is characterised by negative concerns and worries about performance, inability to concentrate, and disrupted attention (Krane, 1994). Somatic anxiety consists of an individual’s perceptions, which are characterised by indications such as sweaty palms, butterflies, and shakiness (Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump & Smith, 1990). Research has also been done on the gender differences concerning state anxiety levels. Self-confidence tends to decrease in females on the day a competitive event is to occur. Male young athletes typically display lower levels of anxiety and higher self-confidence than female athletes (Scanlan & Passer, 1979; Wark &Witting, 1979). Krane and Williams (1994) found no gender differences for cognitive anxiety. They also demonstrated that the more experienced college player would show lower levels of cognitive and somatic anxiety than the less experienced player. As far as handball is concerned, Roguli, Nazor, Srhoj and Bozin (2006) supported that it is a sport, which includes complex and accurate motor skills, and they suggested that psychological factors play an even more decisive role in a competition, differentiating between successful and less successful teams. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the levels of intensity and direction of the competitive state anxiety in junior handball players prior to a competition and to investigate any possible differences between male and female players, as well as in relation to their athletic experience.



The sample of the study consisted of 115 handball players, members of eight handball teams (four male and four female), which participated in the Greek Junior Handball Championships finals held in Athens in 2008. The age of the participants was between 14 and 16 years (M. = 14.85, S.D. = 1.14). The participants voluntarily and anonymously took part in the research, with the consent of their coaches and clubs’ managements, as well as with the parents’ informed consent for the players younger than 14 years of age. For functional needs, 61 of the players were males and 54 females. For the needs of the research, the sample was divided according to athletic experience: (a) up to 3 years (n = 55) and (b) 4 to 6 years (n = 60).

Data collection

For the data collection, the model used was the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-II (CSAI-II, Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump and Smith, 1983; Martens et al., 1990; Jones & Swain, 1992), which was modified for the Greek population by Stavrou, Zervas, Kakkos & Phychoudaki (1998). The specific instrument measures cognitive, somatic anxiety and self-confidence, as well as the direction of this state anxiety. The scale consists of 15 items (three 5-item subscales arranged on a 4-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (none) to 4 (very much) for intensity. Also, it includes a 7-point Likert-type bipolar scale ranging from –3 (hinders performance) to +3 (facilitates performance), which was used to evaluate intensity symptoms as either debilitative or facilitative. All players filled in the questionnaire just prior to the warm-up phase, approximately 30 minutes before the competition.


For the statistical analysis of the data, from the SPSS 11.0 statistical package, the methods used were the Factorial analysis, the Reliability analysis and the one-way ANOVA analysis, which was also used in order to determine whether any of the factors were related to gender (male-female) and athletic experience a) up to 3 years (n= 55), b) 4 to six years (n=60). The level of statistical significance was set at p< .05.


The factor analysis indicated three factors, which interpreted 57.19% of the total fluctuation on the intensity scale and three factors interpreting 61.87% of the direction of this intensity. The Cronbach’s alpha internal cohesion indicator of the questionnaire was satisfactory. The values that came out were .79 for the cognitive anxiety, .81 for the somatic anxiety and .80 for the self-confidence. For the direction of anxiety, the values were .84, .86, and .91 correspondingly (see Table 1). The one-way ANOVA analysis showed statistically important differences concerning cognitive anxiety and self-confidence and its direction, between the male and female players (F1, 114 = 9.78; p < .01, F1, 114 = 30.28; p < .001, F1, 114 = 42.05; p < .001, F1, 114 = 37.07; p < .001). Male players presented lower scores on cognitive anxiety. They also had higher scores on self-confidence and its direction, which facilitated their performance. What is more, there were statistically important differences concerning self-confidence and its direction (F1, 114 =19.09; p<.001, F1, 114 =26.21; p<.001), between players of different years of experience. Players with four to six years of experience reported higher scores on self-confidence and its direction, which facilitated their performance (See Table 1).

Table 1
Descriptive statistics and important differences among the factors of the questionnaire

Handball Players Athletic Experience
Cronbach’s Alfa male female Up 3 years 4 to six years
Intensity M. (S.D.) M. (S.D.) M. (S.D.) M. (S.D.)
Cognitive .79 2.10 (.48)** 2.78 (.57) 2.63 (.68) 2.19 (.55)
Somatic .81 1.95 (.53) 2.05 (.74) 2.08 (.71) 1.98 (.57)
Self-confidence .80 3.25 (.52)*** 2.63 (.67) 2.69 (.65) 3.20 (.55)***
Direction of intensity
Cognitive .84 4.26 (.66)*** 3.20 (.71) 3.62 (.92) 3.98 (.84)
Somatic .86 4.12 (.69) 4.06 (.86) 3.98 (.85) 4.16 (.75)
Self-confidence .91 5.72 (.72)*** 4.21 (.93) 4.69 (.62) 5.78 (.57)***

Note 1: Μ = Mean Prices, S.D. = Standard Deviations of factors in relation to the gender and athletic experience
Note 2: Significant *** p < .001, ** p < .01, * p < .05.


The results of the research showed that male junior handball players reported lower scores of cognitive anxiety, which was facilitative to performance. On the other hand, females displayed a higher score in cognitive anxiety, which was rather debilitative to performance. Furthermore, junior male handball players displayed higher self-confidence, with positive effects on their performance, while females stated lower self-confidence, which was neither facilitative nor debilitative to performance. In relation to years of experience, the results revealed that players with 4 to 6 years of experience showed higher self-confidence with facilitating direction, while players with less years of experience displayed lower self-confidence, with neither facilitative nor debilitative effects on their performance. These results are consistent with the findings of similar studies (Scanlan et al., 1979; Wark et al., 1979) which indicates that male athletes typically display lower levels of anxiety and higher self-confidence than female athletes. The above findings seem to support the existing theories on intensity (Mellalieu, Neil & Hanton, 2006; Parfitt & Pates, 1999; Stavrou, Psychoudaki, Zervaς, 2006; Woodman & Hardy, 2003; Wilson, & Raglin, 1997) which demonstrates that the more experienced player will show lower levels of cognitive and somatic anxiety than the less experienced player.

In conclusion, the psychological preparation of junior handball players must be taken into serious consideration during the coaching procedure. Professional help and programming of the psychological preparation of the athletes and observation of their emotional condition before and during a game is necessary to reduce competitive anxiety and contribute to the high effectiveness of handball players. Nonetheless, further investigation is needed for the generalization of the results in Greek handball.


Craft, L.L., Magyar, T.M., Becker, B.J., & Feltz, D. L. (2003). The relation between the competitive state anxiety inventory-ΙΙ and sport performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 25, 44-65.

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Krane, V., & Williams, J.M. (1994). Cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety and confidence in track and field athletes: the impact of gender, competitive level and characteristics. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 25, 203-217.

Martens, R., Vealey, R.S. & Burton, D. (1990). Competitive anxiety in sport (pp.117-173). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Martens, R., Burton, D., Vealey, R. S., Bump, L. A., & Smith, D. E. (1990).

Development and validation of the competitive state anxiety inventory-2 (CSAI-2). In R. Martens, R. S. Vealey, & D. Burton (Eds.), Competitive anxiety in sport (pp. 117-173). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Mellalieu, S.D., Neil, R., & Hanton, S. (2006). Self-confidence as a medicator of the relationship between competitive anxiety intensity and interpretation. Res Q Exercise Sport, 77(2), 263-270.

Parfitt, G., Hardy, L., & Pates, J. (1995). Somatic anxiety and physiological arousal: Their effects upon a high anaerobic, low memory demand task. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 26, 196-213.

Parfitt, G., & Pates, J. (1999). The effects of cognitive and somatic anxiety and self-confidence on components of performance during competition. Journal Sports Science, 17(5), 351-356.

Rogulj, N., Nazor M., Srhoj, V., & Bozin, D. (2006). Differences between competitively efficient and less efficient junior handball players according to their personality traits. Kinesiology Journal, 2, 158-163.

Scanlan, T.K., & Passer, M.W. (1979). Sources of competitive stress in young female athletes. Journal of Sport Psychology, 1, 248-250.

Stavrou, N.A., Psychountaki, M., Zervas, Y. (2004). Intensity and direction dimensions of competitive state anxiety: a time-to-event approach. Perceptual Motor Skills, 98(2), 439-449.

Stavrou, N.A., Zervas, Y., Kakkos & Phychoudaki, M. (1998). Intensity and direction of competitive state anxiety. Proceedings of the 2nd International /5th Panhellenic Congress of Athletic Psychology (pp. 139-141), Trikala.

Stavrou, N.A., Psychoudaki, M., Zevraς, Y. (2006). Intensity and direction dimensions of competitive state anxiety: a time-to-event approach. Laboratory of Motor Behavior and Sport Phycology, Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, University of Athens, 103(1), 91-98.

Wark, K.A., & Witting, A.F. (1979). Sex role and sport competition anxiety. Journal of Sport Psychology, 1, 248-250.

Woodman, T., & Hardy L. (2003). The relative impact of cognitive anxiety and self-confidence upon sport performance: A meta-analysis. Journal Sports Sciences, 21(6), 443-457.

Wilson, G.S., & Raglin, J.S. (1997). Optimal and predicted anxiety in 9-12 year old track and field athletes. Scadinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 2, 148-152.

Labor and Immigration Issues in Sports


Every year, international athletes come to play professional sports in the United States. Are they stealing jobs from Americans, or should they be welcomed for their talents? Should they be entitled to special treatment with regard to immigration and labor laws, or should they have to go through the same procedures as any immigrant applying for United States citizenship? The purpose of this article is to determine the historical and cultural framework with regard to the use of sports as a vehicle to achieve immigrant assimilation in the United States. This article also addresses the topic of athletes coming into the United States to “steal” jobs from Americans. Second, this article discusses the legal issues as well as the overlapping labor issues concerning immigration and worker migration. Third, the article is also important in the post-9/11 period because of immigration and security issues.


American citizens are wary when newly arrived immigrants set forth on American soil with the hopes of getting a job and living the “American Dream.” The American Dream, to most people, consists of living in freedom, gainful employment with a high salary, a home, a car and a family. There are many views on recently arrived immigrants and the uneducated person usually argues that these immigrants are taking jobs away from American citizens. Citizens get upset because when these immigrants arrive, they have to find jobs in order to survive. Most immigrants take on menial jobs that American citizens do not want, like a bus boy, or a food delivery person. However, most citizens turn the other cheek when the immigrant is a sports star.

Aside from the talent of the sports star, there are various aspects one must consider when trying to attract a non-American citizen to join an American-based sports league or team. Some of those issues include: labor issues, legal ramifications, governmental action, cultural assimilation issues, political wrangling, and unforeseen circumstances that might arise. Labor issues address the feelings of resentment mentioned above where American citizens feel that jobs are being taken away from fellow Americans by immigrants who are willing to work for a lot less. “Workers who had previously protected their wages by agreement not to work for less than their fellow worker were faced with competition from immigrants willing to work for much less” (Carrell and Heavrin, 2004, p.4-5).

There are various legal issues to address. However, it is hard to say with certainty if all of the laws that have been enacted are any serious help to the highly paid athlete. For example, does one think that an athlete is worried about the Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs minimum wage standards, the number of hours in a work week, and overtime pay? This is very doubtful. However, there are legal issues that these foreign born athletes must address and conform. Some of those legal ramifications include immigration status, the payment of taxes and the construction of an enforceable contract. In some cases, child labor laws come into play because the superstar athlete is younger than 18.

The government is a huge factor in labor and immigration issues as well. It is up to the U.S. government to protect its citizens while promoting historical and constitutional ideals. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty reads, “Send us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses.” Immigrants built the United States, and its society. However, the realities of a post 9/11 America must come into play. Security is a huge concern, along with immigration laws. Finally, it would also not be the United States unless economic factors were taken into consideration as well. So, antitrust and political ideologies must be addressed too.

Even after the athlete has arrived, and the political wrangling begins between the country he left and the United States, issues like assimilation come into play. Assimilation, in the context of culture and labor laws, must occur, to some degree, in order for the athlete to be successful in his endeavors. This is where the resentment from Native Americans begins. Xenophobia occurs because the traditional worker arrives with his own cultural values and the American citizens want him to embrace their own cultural values. Assimilation in this context tends to follow historical perspectives. Early immigrants assimilated and molded the concept of what it is to be American. History shows that such is the case.

Regardless, there are many variables one must take into consideration before determining whether or not athletic immigrants deserve to be treated differently. Should their pure talent be the determining factor for being allowed to pursue the American Dream through sports, or should they too be forced to go through the same procedures as any ordinary immigrant? Hopefully, this paper will provide some of the answers.

This paper looks at a variety of labor issues concerning immigrants who come to the United States for sports related activity. It discusses the legal, cultural, political and other extreme circumstances behind this phenomenon. The paper addresses specific instances as well as studies conducted on the practice of allowing immigrants to play a sport in a different country. Finally, the paper concludes with some thoughts and suggestions into the matter and some suggestions for seeking common ground.

Review of Literature


There are many legal issues the immigrant worker has to familiarize himself with if he is to be successfully employed in the United States. However, some worker concerns like job security, holidays, vacation pay, promotions and age discrimination are not typically things fought for by foreign-born athletes. This is due to the fact that the average career length in professional sports is approximately 3-5 years depending on the sport. In addition, professional sports athletes might be required to play on holidays, such as Thanksgiving Day football. Professional athletes tend to worry about other worker concerns such as drug testing, health plans, profit sharing, grievances and arbitration. Probably the best way to start the review of literature section of this paper is with the Immigration Act of 1990 and the surrounding legal and governmental issues with regard to athletes.

The Immigration Act of 1990 was a major overhaul of the United States immigration policies and laws. As previously mentioned, it is up to the government to protect its citizens and its borders. One of the main thrusts of the Immigration Act of 1990 was that it placed workers coming into the United States into various categories. Of those categories there are two that must be specifically mentioned with regard to this paper; those are the O and P categories.

Specifically, the O category is for “workers with extraordinary abilities”. The P category is for “athletes and entertainers” (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services a.). These athletes must conform to an additional set of requirements in order to be eligible for these category designations. For both the O and P categories, aside from the extraordinary abilities the athlete possesses, he must be a temporary worker only visiting for the sole purposes of performing. In addition, he must be uniquely qualified for the position, and he must have a foreign home that he does not intend on abandoning (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services b.). Basically, what the government wants to know is that he will return to his country once he has finished performing.

One can argue that athletes can fit into either category O or P. They are uniquely qualified workers in the sense that they possess a talent that is better than any American citizen. This is proven by the immigrant’s ability to make the team over all other persons trying out for a position. The O category designation is a little bit more geared to specialized workers in the arts and sciences. However, the United States government created the P category to specifically refer to athletes. So, when it comes to the legal issues surrounding whether or not athletes are legally allowed to come to the United States and play in professional sports leagues, the government has developed immigration laws to allow this to occur. However, the laws do not provide that these gifted persons should be favored over ordinary immigrants seeking entry into the United States.

There are other legal/labor issues involving the immigration status of an athlete into the United States for the specific purpose of engaging in professional sports. Some of those issues, aside from the immigration status, include: contracts and taxation (O’Connor, 2000). O’Connor outlined the specifics of the Immigration Act of 1990 as it pertains to athletes coming into the United States to play professional sports. His report is specifically designed to train lawyers who might represent these athletes.

Contract issues can take on various forms. Most times, these athletes are unfamiliar with contracts in general. O’Connor (2000) points out that a lawyer or representative of the athlete should engage the athlete into two different contracts, one contract to be his legal representative and another contract with the team the athlete will play for. O’Connor suggests that in some cases these individuals need to be taught the nuances of a contract because they have no prior knowledge of how contracts work, but more importantly one does not want the athlete just to walk away from a contract. This idea of understanding and honoring contracts can go on even further because all major professional sports leagues are governed by collective bargaining agreements. So, it is up to the athletes’ representative to explain what collective bargaining agreements are all about as well.

Collective bargaining agreements and sports go hand in hand. The negotiations that occur between labor and management is the gist of what their relationship is all about. The Wagner Act made unions a force to be reckoned with. Two of the many things the Wagner Act achieved are the fact that management had to recognize the employee’s right to form a union, and management had to bargain in good faith. These two rights are the cornerstones for successful collective bargaining agreements in industry as well as in the world of sports.

Another area the athlete needs to be instructed on is taxes. Every good American knows that his taxes are due by April 15th of any given year to pay his fair share of the taxes due from the preceding year of work. O’Connor relates how taxation issues become more complex for the athlete because he is unfamiliar with paying taxes in general, or he is unfamiliar with the American tax system. To make it even more complex, there are state taxation issues for athletes who play in any given state. It is up to the athlete to pay these individual state taxes, so it is in his best interests to find a representative that is knowledgeable in this area.

Another legal aspect of recruiting immigrants to play professional sports in the United States involves child labor laws (Donnelly, 1997). In his report, Donnelly outlines child labor and sports labor issues. The United Sates classifies anyone under the age of 18 as a child, so there are a variety of laws that protect them. Oftentimes athletes recruited to play in the United States are under the age of 18. This phenomenon occurs in some of the big four professional sports of baseball, basketball and hockey, but not so much in football.

Additional legal and child labor factors are raised when the child-athlete needs to sign a professional contract. Anyone in the United States under the age of 18 is not permitted to enter into a legal contract. Legal guardians or caretakers can often take advantage of the child-athlete and walk off with the money earned by the athlete simply because the caretaker is the legal guardian of the child and an administrator of the funds produced from the labor of the child. Other child labor factors include the number of hours a child is allowed to work in a week. Sometimes training and practice hours, in addition to time spent in playing the game, are over the limit for the child-athlete. For the most part, sport leagues get away with exploiting the child as long as they play within the terms of their respective collective bargaining agreements.

Some other governmental restraints on sports and immigration concern the recruitment of college coaches. When recruiting a college coach, all NCAA Division I schools seek the best coaches in the world for their teams. Equal opportunity programs and Title IX laws call for colleges to get the best coaches available for their teams. However, sometimes these laws interfere with immigration laws. A 1984 article by Abbott and Smith revealed that Title IX and equal opportunity laws were making women’s programs more equal to men’s programs, but immigration laws prevented the very best from coming to the United States (Abbott and Smith, 1984).


There are many cultural aspects of an immigrant coming to the United States to participate in professional sports or sports in general. An article by Gems (2001) discusses these phenomena from a historical perspective. Gems wrote about how early unions desired to increase leisure time as a fringe benefit. The pressure the unions brought on companies like Spaulding and Pullman led to their sponsoring of sports related employee teams. This may be a reason that during the times when workers were having vicious strikes the Pullman strike was on the calm side. “The Pullman strike was peaceful and well organized…” (Carrell & Heavrin, p.10). Regardless, the sponsoring of the employee teams and the use of sports to acculturate newly arrived immigrants all happened because companies wanted to “Americanize” immigrant workers through sport (Gems, 2001).

The theme of using sport to assimilate recently arrived immigrants continued with a study by Stodolska and Alexandris. Stodolska and Alexandris also discussed the role of sport to “Americanize” recently arrived immigrants to the United States. Their findings showed that after the introduction of sports, the immigrants fell into one of three categories. Those categories are: (1) groups that embraced and assimilated to white culture, (2) groups that assimilated to a subculture of their own ethnic community, and (3) groups that preserved their own ethnic values and promoted their ethnic group solidarity (Stodolska & Alexandris, 2004).

Other studies argue that some professional sports followed the immigration patterns of the United States. This is similar to what Carrell and Heavrin noted with the history of craftspeople in the United States. “The original craftspeople came from free laborers, those immigrants who paid their way to the New World and established homes and families and passed on their trade to their children” (Carrell & Heavrin, p.3). An article by Gilbert (1999) traces the glut of Irish born baseball players in the Major League in the 1890s. Gilbert argues that there were many Irishmen in the league at that time because the earlier patterns of immigration into the United States allowed the new generation of Irish-Americans to become assimilated and partake in professional sports (Gilbert, 1999). Early labor unions were comprised of cheap, immigrant workers, and as they assimilated into the United States, they took on jobs in better industries while climbing the social ladder.

The Irish were not the only immigrants who assimilated into sports. After the Irish, the major immigrant group came from Italy. Italians moved up the social ladder after the Irish did. An article by Mormino (1982) discusses how Italians assimilated into sports in the St. Louis area in the decades of the 1920s and 1930s. The assimilation factor parallels what these immigrant groups were trying to achieve on the union front and the gains they hoped to make in labor-management relations.


There are a variety of political issues that surround immigrants coming to the United States to play professional sports. Some athletes see their talent as a way out of their country. For example, how many athletes try to get out of Cuba each year? Success stories like that of Orlando “El Duke” Hernandez of the New York Mets show that Cuban immigrants will go out of their way to play professional sports in the United States. Meanwhile, little-known, hopeful defectors, like Elian Gonzalez, must be returned to the country of their birth. The political ramifications do not end there.

Some researchers believe that sport is a “social technology,” that organizes the world to solve its political and social problems (Dyerson, 1998). Dyerson also believes that the struggle of sports athletes mirrors how the United States grew as a country. Dyerson (1998) argues that there are many civil rights issues that parallel the rise of sports in the United States. Most detractors of Dyerson argue that sports are now part of big business and to argue that it can solve the political and social ills of the world is absurd (Mason, 2000).

Another study with regard to political ideologies and sport comes from Hemphill. Hemphill (1992) discussed the “Freedom in Sport.” Specifically, Hemphill talks about sport as an “extension of play,” and how play is embraced in the United States, but not necessarily around the world. In addition, Hemphill argues that sport is an “extension of alienated capitalist labor” (1992). It is within these two points that political ideologies in sport can be analyzed for countries throughout the world. It is also within these two points where the political wrangling between countries occurs. It is hard in some instances for a country to see a beloved hero leave for the United States to become rich and famous. On the other hand, some countries embrace the idea that their athletes have made it to the pinnacle of professional sports.

Other Circumstances

What this paper has discussed so far are the legal, cultural and political situations where foreign-born athletes come to the United States to play sports, specifically professional sports. However, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that bring athletes into the U.S. immigration and sports spotlight. Sometimes these other circumstances might be able to fit in one of those other categories, but most often they are special cases. Let us start with the Olympics.

Sometimes foreign-born athletes wish to come to the United States to become citizens and represent the U.S. in the Olympics. Jarvis discussed the requirement for an athlete to do just that (2000). First, the athlete must have at least five years of residency in the United States. Second, that requirement can be shortened to three years if the athlete marries an American citizen (Jarvis, 2000). Even though these athletes are not paid, they do have non-monetary aspirations, such as American citizenship. In these cases, they are not taking away jobs of Americans, but spots on the Olympic squad that American-born athletes would have occupied. However, these instances are rarely met with resistance from Americans because the foreign-born athlete must possess some talent in order to make the Olympic team.

Another non-monetary aspect of immigrants coming to the United States to participate in sports is at the collegiate level. Every year, colleges seek to recruit the best available players to participate on their teams. However, this is becoming a little bit harder in the post-9/11 world. Gardner and O’Toole (2002) outlined the myriad of problems with recruiting international students to play collegiate sports. Some of those problems include being stopped at security checkpoints to ascertain passport and visa validity. In addition, laws have been made that tighten the once loose visa market for international athletes looking to play college sports.

Since the subject of 9/11 was mentioned, what happens when security, labor, sports and immigration issues come together? The result is the plight of Kwame James. The average reader is not going to be too familiar with Mr. James, but he might just be the greatest foreign-born, American hero. Mr. James was one of the people who stopped the notorious, “shoe-bomber,” Richard Reid. Reid was intent on blowing up an American Airlines plane that was filled with people. Mr. James, and some others, subdued Reid and prevented an attack. James is a Canadian born athlete with hopes of becoming an American citizen. Just for his bravery in this instance, he should be awarded U.S. citizenship, but what makes Mr. James’s story even more intriguing is that he is a minor league basketball player with NBA aspirations. Mr. James’ problems were outlined in an article by O’Connor (2003). O’Connor recants the story and the plight of Mr. James and introduces another legal fact of sports and immigration—there are no work permits for athletes in training (2003).

The problems with not allowing work permits for athletes in training prove that it is difficult for the college athlete, who is considered in training and non-professional, to come to the United States with the hope of playing professional sports. However, this requirement makes it very difficult for professional teams in the United States to develop foreign-born talent. In Mr. James’s case, he has alternatives. He saved a bunch of Americans from death in the plane incident. He attended school in the U.S. and therefore can try to find a job in his field of study. Finally, he can try to marry an American citizen. However, what about the professional sport teams that are looking for foreign born talent? Sports teams cannot recruit that type of athlete unless the teams are willing to sign the athlete to a professional contract. Basically, the requirement of no work permits for athletes in training forces teams to take a chance on an athlete that may or may not pay dividends for them down the line.

Finally, in the case of other circumstances, what should be done when a foreign- based professional sports franchise moves its entire team to a new location in the United States? For example, this is the case with the Montreal Expos moving to Washington D.C. Of course the players will be allowed to play in the United States, but what about the hundred or so office workers that have been with the team since its inception? The various factors were addressed by Adams.

Adams wrote about the various front office positions that are not within the legal definition for immigration as stated before, specifically that the immigrant should be uniquely qualified and no other person could perform the job as well. This is easy to do with a highly talented athlete, but it is very difficult to prove that the Montreal Expo ticket manager is uniquely qualified and no other American can perform the duties of this position as well (Adams, 2004). Other positions throughout the organization were lost to Americans. Groundskeepers, salespersons, and a host of other jobs were lost due to the fact that they are not highly skilled positions and Americans could fill them. I can personally guarantee that there was no major uproar by team officials looking to keep these jobs for their workers. Conversely, there were no Americans feeling bad that these people had lost their jobs either.


Most of the studies on immigrants coming to a country to play sports, and the migration of workers for sports related endeavors have been conducted by Maguire. Unfortunately, Maguire does not study the effects on the migration of workers into the United States, but he does study the effects on the phenomena of athletes going from their birth country to another country to play professional sports, and he proves that that migration is a global issue (Maguire, 1994).

One of Maguire’s earliest studies was about Americans migrating to England to play in professional British Basketball Leagues (Maguire, 1994). In this study and all of his other studies, Maguire looks at the problems and tensions associated with migrants in global sport processes. In 1996 Maguire studied the migration of Canadian hockey players into England to play professional hockey. In that study, Maguire assessed labor rights, work permits and salary caps as they pertain to these players and their relationship with English citizens. These are some of the exact same issues discussed in this article, and are just as problematic in the United States.

Another major study of Maguire’s, and problem for the government of England, lies in the number of soccer players recruited to play in the Premier League in England. The Premier League is one of the best soccer leagues in the world, and teams recruit players from around the world. In their study, Maguire and Pearton (2000) looked at the implications of soccer players in the Premier League as a part of globalization and worker migration. Maguire and Pearton conclude that the recruitment of these soccer players parallels workers migrating to countries where work is abundant. In addition, Maguire and Pearton address the economic, political and social factors these soccer players affect when they go to England to play professional soccer.

Summary and Conclusions

Playing professional sports is a dream for many people throughout the world. The idea of being able to be well compensated to play a game, and something that you love, is a goal that only the truly talented can achieve. However, how are the local citizens to act when immigrants come into their country to take jobs away from the locals and make a great deal of money at the same time? The answer is, for the most part, local citizens embrace the athlete and his or her talents and hope that these athletes embrace the American way.

This paper has outlined a variety of labor aspects that the foreign-born athlete must take into consideration when he heads to the United States to play sports, whether it is professionally or not. The athlete must consider the legal aspects first and foremost. The issue of immigration and the laws that surround the foreign-born athlete to legally come to the United States must be adhered to. Some people might believe that these athletes receive special treatment, but that special treatment is with regard to getting them into the United States to play professional sports. However, all of the special treatment these athletes receive is within the letter of the law. This is clear because the United States has specific designations of these types of immigrants as outlined above. So, from a legal perspective, the United States government embraces these athletes.

The cultural aspect of these athletes coming into the Unites States might be where the feelings of resentment kick in. Xenophobia is the fear of foreigners and this fear runs rampant when immigrants come to the United States. However, this fear is usually seen when immigrants compete with Americans for jobs, something that does not occur in a sports context. The average fan is not really going to care if Yao Ming or Sammy Sosa adopts the ways of the average American. Also, the average American is not talented enough to make a professional sports team, so it is not like these athletes are competing with Americans for jobs. If there was an American more talented than these foreign-born athletes, then he is going to make the team. So, the cultural aspects involved with hoping a foreign-born sports star assimilates to the cultural norms of American is not a real factor Americans worry about. The emphasis is on the athlete’s ability to perform. Anything short of this is a non-factor, including cultural aspects.

The political aspects of the immigrants coming into the United States only gets difficult when there are differences in the political ideologies between the two countries to begin with. If the country where the migrant comes from is at odds already with the United States, then those feelings of hatred are reinforced. On the other hand, if the political climate between the two countries is good, or even fair, then there is not a problem. This is proven by the large amount of baseball players in Major League Baseball that hail from the Dominican Republic.

As with any situation there are always extenuating circumstances. This paper outlined the various situations that may arise when someone seeks United States citizenship. Specifically, this paper has outlined the residency requirements for athletes who wish to become American citizens in order to represent this country in the Olympics. If the athlete is talented, then he will be allowed to enter the United States, provided he meets the requirements set forth by the governing bodies. This paper also discussed the plight of Kwame James, an athlete, but actually a better hero than athlete. His case for immigration should be judged on his heroics and not necessarily his athletic ability.

Then there is the case of the non-highly skilled worker seeking to migrate to the United States. Again, it is in these instances that this author believes that American resentment takes place. There would have been a major uproar if your average American could not vie for the various front office positions that became available when the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, D.C.. If the Expos were allowed to bring all of their employees with them, then labor groups would have become very irate and fought to give those jobs to American citizens.

So, are these foreign-born athletes really stealing jobs from American citizens? Absolutely not. Making a professional sports team better should entail getting the best athletes from around the world. Professional sports leagues have embraced this idea by implementing worldwide drafts. The National Basketball Association does it, and Major League Baseball favors it as well (Carrell & Heavrin, 2004). Owners, managers, employees and fans want to win, want the team to be competitive, and want to field the most talented athletes in the world.

Are these athletes given special treatment? This is obvious, and expected, to get the athlete to come to the United States. However, being a professional sports star does not guarantee U.S. citizenship. There is no indication that these athletes receive special attention when, and if, they decide to become citizens of the United States.


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