On SAGE Insight: Does skin tone influence playing position within English football leagues?

Article title: Bottom of Form It is not Black and White: A comparison of skin tone by playing position in the Premier League and English football

 From International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching

This study explores the role of skin tone on playing position within English football’s top four professional leagues. The data comprise 4515 male professional football players across five seasons (i.e. 2010 to 2015) and four leagues (i.e. English Premier League, Championship, League One, and League Two). The study begins by conducting a descriptive analysis to outline the basic features of the population. From there the distribution of players across skin tone and playing position were assessed. It is common for broadcasters to discuss darker skin toned players as naturally athletic and lighter skin toned players as intelligent. Findings suggest darker skin toned players occupy positions associated with athleticism and strength. In contrast, lighter skin toned players appear to fulfil positions requiring organizational skills and creativity.

Despite vast differences in available resources within the four English professional leagues, skin tone by playing position variance remained relatively stable. Although the empirical evidence of the cause of these effects is unavailable, factors such as the media and a lack of role models are thought to play a role. Resolving such disparity is not without challenge and research can support this effort through identifying the mechanisms and situations where the processes described within this manuscript are activated. Although difficult, this challenge should be met, as with such understanding, players may be evaluated with clearer eyes and afforded equal opportunities to develop.

Abstract

Within the present manuscript we explore the role of skin tone on playing position within English football’s top four professional leagues. Player data (N = 4515) was collected across five seasons (2010–2015). Results indicate that in general, darker skin toned players are more likely to operate within peripheral rather than central positions. Using both one- and two-way ANOVAs, results suggest significant differences between skin tone and individual playing positions. Between league differences were, however, non-significant. Although darker skin toned players are still more likely to occupy peripheral positions, the situation is more nuanced than first thought. Instead of segregating players by central versus peripheral roles, it appears that darker skin toned players occupy positions associated with athleticism and strength. In contrast, lighter skin toned players appear to fulfil positions requiring organizational skills and creativity.

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Article details
It is not Black and White: A comparison of skin tone by playing position in the Premier League and English football
Article first published online: January 16, 2018
DOI: 10.1177/1747954117749747
John P MillsCharles IngTom MarkhamFergus Guppy
From International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching

 

 

     
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