The culture of sport: examining the effect of athletic participation on the acceptance of rape myths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between athletic participation and the acceptance of rape myths in an effort to further identify cultural and social institutions that may contribute to adherence to and glorification of rape culture. Design/methodology/approach: A random sample of 685 first semester, university freshmen were surveyed about their high school sports participation and levels of rape myth acceptance (RMA). Linear regression models were estimated to examine the relationships between participation in sports, the type of sport participation and the acceptance of rape myths. Findings: Those involved in athletics, generally, and those involved in team sports are more accepting of rape myths than are their counterparts. These results hold true for the full sample and for males and females, when examined separately. Participation in contact sports was not significantly predictive of RMA. Practical implications: Athletics may provide a culture that is particularly prone to a belief in rape myths, which jeopardizes the integrity of collegiate sports. Policies should focus on changing offender behavior not victim behavior to create safer and more inclusive communities. Educating youth about the nature of rape myths and providing them with skills to resist such thinking is paramount. Focused programs and training could reduce the likelihood of accepting rape myths and, in turn, may make high school and college campuses safer. Originality/value: This paper contributes to prior research by examining a sample of first semester university freshmen about their high school athletic participation and RMA. This research not only minimizes the effects of college level influences but also distinguishes between different forms of athletic involvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-68
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 4 2024


  • Athletics
  • Masculinity
  • Rape
  • Rape myths
  • Sexual violence
  • Sports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Law


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