Sport, ethnicity, and assimilation

Maria T. Allison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The “melting pot” theory suggests that prolonged interethnic contact leads to the disappearance of ethnic and/or cultural differences in society. Eventually, the argument holds, such contact between minorities and other subcultural groups with the mainstream society leads, first, to the assimilation of, and, then, to the disappearance of, ethnic distinctions. Sport has been perceived as an important mechanism in this process by which ethnic group members could be assimilated into mainstream society. However, recent anthropological work indicates that the melting-pot theory does not hold. Drawing from the works of several social scientists who have analyzed and are currently studying play forms among several ethnic cultures within the United States, this article presents data which challenge the tenability of the melting-pot theory. The data indicate that adopting cultures within the United States transform the nature of typically “American” sport forms to fit their own cultural schema and that the value orientations of the ethnic minority student-athletes reflect the values of their mother culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-175
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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