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RISE College Athletics Survey on Racism & Athlete Activism Athletes and coaches are overwhelmingly concerned with racism and feel athletes are obligated to act

Over the course of three years, RISE surveyed more than 6,200 collegiate athletes and 1,200 coaches and athletics staff from 50 different colleges and universities to understand their perceptions of racism, social justice and athlete activism.


We found the college athletics community believes racism is a concern both in the country and on their campus, and they are willing to be more active as sports leaders to address it.

We have used the survey data to inform university athletics departments across the country and help them work with collegiate athletes to create diversity and inclusion initiatives on their campuses. We have also worked with athletics departments to implement RISE's leadership and cultural competency programming for students, athletes, coaches and staff, empowering them to be leaders in addressing issues of racism, discrimination and inclusion.


See our key findings below.

Racism is still a concern in the United States

91% college athletes

95% coaches and staff


College athletes, as well as coaches and staff, overwhelmingly believe racism is a concerning issue in the country.

Racism is still a concern on campus

65% college athletes

76% coaches and staff


More than 6 out of 10 college athletes and three-fourths of coaches and staff believe racism is a concerning issue on their campus.

"Our student-athletes are why we're here. They're the reason why college athletic departments exist. We're preparing them to be outstanding people, empowered to stand up against racial and social injustice. They have a huge platform, and when they speak out and speak up, people listen. It's important for us to involve our student-athletes in conversation, listen, and hear what they're feeling. Our student-athletes and issues of racial and social injustice warrant our attention."

Elliott Daniels

Michigan State Associate AD for Student-Athlete Engagement

Athletes and coaches know of racist incidents on their campus

53% college athletes

57% coaches and athletics staff


More than half of all college athletes and coaches and staff surveyed are aware of specific racist incidents that occurred on their campus.

Racism has directly affected someone close to a majority of athletes and coaches and staff

65% college athletes

77% coaches and athletics staff


A strong majority of college athletes and coaches and staff are close to someone that racism has personally touched.

Collegiate Athletes and Coaches Believe in the Importance of Athlete Activism

Both want to take action to address racism and social justice issues

78%

College athletes who feel obligated to raise awareness about social justice issues

84%

College athletes who are willing to speak up and be more active around social issues

74%

College athletes who want to learn more about addressing race, diversity and inclusion issues

67%

Coaches and athletics staff who believe college athletes have an obligation to raise awareness around social justice issues

85%

Coaches and athletics staff who want to learn more about addressing race, diversity and inclusion issues

"What athletics is for is about the student-athlete experience and making sure they have a great experience, and it's important to hear their thoughts. And you're empowering the student-athlete to help guide their own experience and the experience of their fellow student-athletes. You can have a generational gap between student-athletes and administrators."

Jim McHugh

Cal Lutheran Associate VP for Athletic Affairs

Race, Gender and Class Year Can Predict a Collegiate Athlete's Perception of Racism

* This report reflects data collected from the 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic years. Over the three years, 6,270 collegiate athletes and 1,256 coaches and athletic staff were surveyed. RISE continues to collect data on collegiate athlete and coaches perceptions on race, social justice and athlete activism.

Race and Climate Perceptions

National
University
Team

Non-white collegiate athletes believe that racism is more of a concern than white collegiate athletes within their team and university, as well as nationally.


Female collegiate athletes believe racism is more of a concern than male collegiate athletes within their team and university, as well as nationally.

Gender and Climate Perceptions

Female
Male

School Year and Climate Perceptions

Freshman
Sophomore
Junior
Senior

Collegiate athletes become more concerned with racism within their team and university, as well as nationally, as they progress through college.

* This report reflects data collected from the 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic years. Over the three years, 6,270 collegiate athletes and 1,256 coaches and athletic staff were surveyed. RISE continues to collect data on collegiate athlete and coaches perceptions on race, social justice and athlete activism.

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