“Breaking the mould”: Resisting the stereotypes of being a Black Canadian student-athlete


  • Humphrey Nartey Conestoga College
  • Carl E. James York University


student-athlete, stereotypes, male, race, education, athletics, black


This article examines how stereotypes operate in the social construction of Black Canadian male student-athletes and how those stereotypes frame these students’ lived experiences in relation to race, athletic ability, and academic performance. From qualitative interviews with twenty current and former Black Canadian student-athletes, we found that they largely resisted and challenged the stereotypes of being primarily athletes and less students. In various ways, they sought to demonstrate that they possessed the skills needed to be academically successful students with the ability to balance their athletic and academic responsibilities and commitments. This was evident in their having obtained the required grades to enter university, receiving athletic scholarships, maintaining playing eligibility, graduating from university, and going on to pursue graduate studies.

Author Biographies

Humphrey Nartey, Conestoga College

is a professor at the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Conestoga College and a professor of general studies at Yorkville University. Dr. Nartey’s area of expertise focuses on sport and physical activity from a socio-cultural perspective, with an emphasis on the experiences of racialized student-athletes as they transition out of university and university sport. Through a focus on diverse, complex, and relational experiences, aspirations, and outcomes, his research demonstrates how educational and transitioning experiences and trajectories are mediated by stereotypes which have operated in these athletes’ lives. aitch.nartey@gmail.com

Carl E. James, York University

holds the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora in the Faculty of Education at York University. He studies the educational, recreational, employment, and career experiences of marginalized Canadians, noting the ways in which race — as it intersects with gender, class, citizenship, generational status, and other identity characteristics — mediates their opportunities, trajectories, and attainments in society. Premised on notions of equity, inclusion, and social justice, his work seeks to unmask the lived realities of Black and other racialized Canadians. One of his most recent publications is entitled “Colour Matters”: Essays on the Experiences, Education and Pursuits of Black Youth. cjames@edu.yorku.ca


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How to Cite

Nartey, H., & James, C. E. (2022). “Breaking the mould”: Resisting the stereotypes of being a Black Canadian student-athlete. McGill Journal of Education / Revue Des Sciences De l’éducation De McGill, 57(2). Retrieved from https://mje.mcgill.ca/article/view/9970