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Abstract

While recent sport research has highlighted benefits of racial diversity on teams and in the workplace, few studies have examined how demographic composition is perceived by college athletes. Fewer have investigated how racially marginalized athletes experience the phenomena. Thus, the current study explores the intersection of race, gender, and athletic identity in Black college athletes at DI Historically White Institutions (HWIs), perceptions of inclusion, and its influence on sense of belonging. Employing critical race theory, two focus groups and six semi-structured interviews that incorporated vignettes were conducted with six current Black athletes at DI HWIs in the Southeastern U.S. Findings revealed five emergent themes: (a) overcompensation for racial marginalization, (b) gendered racism, (c) commitment to social justice activism and allyship, (d) athletes bubble on campus, and (e) invisibility of holistic identity. This research highlights the nuanced experiences of Black college athletes at HWIs and provides implications for coaches, administrators, and faculty to foster a true inclusive environment.

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