Research has shown that African Americans/Blacks, especially those with low socioeconomic status, acknowledge athletics as an avenue for upward mobility (Coakley, 2011). Although the chances of becoming a professional athlete might seem unachievable through sports, athletes develop tangible and intangible abilities that transfer and are useful in the years following participation in athletics (Harper, Collin & Blackman 2013). The objective of this study is to explore the knowledge about African Americans/Black and the importance of sports through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory. A critical analysis was developed from a positive and negative perspective that presents information from both perspectives on the subject. African Americans/Black develop skill sets through sports fulfilling their esteem needs from a social and physiological standpoint (Fraser-Thomas, Cote, & Deakin, 2005). By comparing Maslow’s theory and sports, a valuable correlation can be found and proven that upward mobility is possible through a participation in sports. Starting sports at a young age has positive and negative advantages that are explored from multiple vantage points throughout the analysis. Overall, this thesis provides a foundational understanding on the importance of athletics, its positive and negative impacts on an individual, its ability to provide support and guidance to youth, and its potential to promote and improve an individual’s social and economic well-being.
For the purpose of this thesis, it is important to distinguish how my personal experiences, ancestral lineage, and family history describe me as a Black American individual. Although society tends to label Black people in America as “African-American”, I refute this label as not all Black people trace their ancestral lineage back to Africa. Throughout this thesis, you will see both “Black” and “African-Americans” referenced as part of its research.