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Discrimination in Professional Sports: A Survey of the Literature


  • Lawrence M. Kahn


This paper reviews studies of racial and ethnic discrimination in professional sports and briefly examines gender differences in pay among professional tennis players. Many of these studies include far more extensive controls for individual ability and performance than typical studies of discrimination that use labor force data. The cited studies show evidence of salary discrimination and customer discrimination against blacks in basketball, and positional segregation on the basis of race or ethnicity in baseball, football, and hockey. More limited evidence is found for the existence of salary discrimination and fan discrimination against French-Canadian hockey players and fan preferences for white baseball players. Finally, at several Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the money prize for the women's winner is somewhat smaller than that for the men's winner, despite some evidence that the women's matches draw at least as much revenue as the men's matches.

Suggested Citation

  • Lawrence M. Kahn, 1991. "Discrimination in Professional Sports: A Survey of the Literature," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(3), pages 395-418, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:44:y:1991:i:3:p:395-418

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