Coming to America: Challenges and difficulties faced by African student athletes

Jenny Lee, Thomas Opio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


There is a considerable lack of literature on international student athletes despite the extent to which colleges and universities are increasingly relying on them to heighten the winning reputation of their sports programs. This research focuses on international student athletes from Africa. Based on interviews of 16 student athletes from seven different African countries, the range of their experiences upon entering universities in the United States, particularly their challenges, were identified. Many of the serious issues affecting the student athletes were matters related to the host environment's underestimations about the African student athletes' desires to learn, misunderstandings about their culture and religions and other negative assumptions that undermined their academic success. We also found that the vast majority of these student athletes experienced negative stereotypes and discrimination based on their race and their region of origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-644
Number of pages16
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Africa
  • Discrimination
  • International students
  • Stereotypes
  • Student athletes
  • Student experiences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Education


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