|Privileged rich kids who are taking scholarships from the genuinely needy?|
"[Basketball p]layers like Iverson and Waters – the first members of their families to go to college – are increasingly rare in college sports, even in the big-money, high-stakes sports of basketball and football. Indeed, most athletic scholarships are going to middle-class kids with college-educated parents, not to kids from poor families who need a scholarship to get anywhere close to a university campus.
Simply put, NCAA sports have been gentrified.
For March Madness this year, the NCAA is running a public service announcement called “Opportunity,” which includes images of some athletes from disadvantaged areas who will get to go to college by playing basketball. It underscores the notion that a core piece of the NCAA’s mission is providing athletic scholarships and college educations to student-athletes in need.
But here’s the stark, myth-busting truth: Fewer than 1 in 5 students playing Division 1 hoops, and 1 in 7 in all Division 1 sports, come from families in which neither parent went to college. And their numbers are declining.
Educators call such students “first gens,” or members of the first generation of their family to attend college. It is a closely tracked figure because it’s a key measure of socioeconomic opportunity. First gens are typically from poor and working-class families that have difficulty paying for college without scholarships. For first gen athletes who don’t go onto the pros — the vast majority – an athletic scholarship is their ticket not just to a degree, but also for entry into the middle class.
In 2010, the NCAA began asking college athletes whether they are first gens as part of its little-known GOALS Study, which captures the background and experience of those playing sports at all three levels of competition. In 2015, it did another survey of 21,000 athletes. ...
Surprisingly, the data revealed that most Division 1 sports experienced steep drops in first gen students. The falloff was dramatic even in the sports most associated with tales of uplift: In men’s basketball, the sport that used to have the highest percentage of first gens, the number plummeted by a third in just five years. Women’s basketball experienced a similar drop. Football fell by more than 10 percent.
And the bottom line – that only 14.2 percent of all Division 1 athletes are first gens – most likely overstates their presence. The NCAA did not survey athletes in 10 smaller sports, several of which can be expensive to play and thus less accessible to families that lack resources: equestrian, fencing, men’s gymnastics, bowling, rifle, rugby, sailing, sand volleyball, skiing and squash.
Indeed, the data suggests that athletes awarded scholarships in big-time college sports are more likely to come from advantaged backgrounds than the wider student body. In 2015, the percentage of freshmen at all four-year colleges who are first gens was 17.2 percent, said Ellen Stolzenberg of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. (In 2016, it was 18.8 percent.)"