Doug Hamlin

1323 days ago


At a time when youth sport participation is stratifying by income, one could argue that even soccer fields have become the domain of the upper-middle class and above. But true rich-kid sports include water polo, squash, crew, lacrosse, and skiing. One does not simply fall into the river and come out a water-polo star, and no downhill-slalom champions casually roam the halls of low-income high schools. These sports often require formal training, expensive equipment, and upscale facilities. No wonder they are dominated by affluent young players.

While there is nothing morally wrong with enjoying a game of catch in a pool, participation in these activities has come to play a subtle, yet ludicrously powerful, role in the reproduction of elite status in the United States.

At Harvard, nearly 1,200 undergraduates—or 20 percent of the student body— participate in intercollegiate athletics. That’s more student athletes than Ohio State University, whose total undergraduate enrollment of 46,000 is nearly seven times larger.

The Cult of Rich-Kid Sports