Over the years, many people have come to believe that racism is no longer prevalent in our societies. Those who do accept this as fact are incredibly mistaken. Although racism may not exist in an overt fashion, it is still evident and widespread. Mikaela J. Dufur and Seth L. Feinberg conducted research on the topic of racism and the NFL draft. They published the article Race and the NFL Draft: Views from the Auction Block in the Qualitative Sociology academic journal in 2009. Dufur and Feinberg had set out to see how perceived racial stereotypes can affect employment in the National Football League (NFL). In their eyes, potential employment in the NFL is an anomaly when compared to what is normally seen in societyï¿½s labour market (Dufur and Feinberg, 2009. p. 53). In addition to investigating racial stereotypes, Dufur and Feinberg had set out to see how the players felt the meetings went when they were interviewed by their prospective employers.
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The findings of their research seem to indicate that minority players do understand that the questions asked of them by coaches and scouts during interviews do have their roots in stereotypical views which pertain to some minorities. Dufur and Feinberg (2009) state that: ï¿½despite their qualifications for work in the NFL, we suggest that minority athletes experience and perceive racism in the labour market because the power imbalance in the contest over racial meaning in professional sports disproportionately privileges white executives and coaches over the players they are hiringï¿½ (p. 69). One must wonder how come these minorities do not seem to be extremely bothered by the role stereotypes play in the hiring process. Dufur and Feinberg (2009) explain this phenomenon by saying that because minorities have also faced discrimination due to stereotypical views over the span of their life; they have adjusted to facing such issues on a regular basis and sort of see it as an inevitable event (p. 69). Unfortunately, Dufur and Feinberg (2009) were unable to gain access to those who hired the players, and therefore there research lacked because they were unable to get viewpoints from both sides (p. 68) But with the information they were able to gather, Dufur and Feinberg are able to demonstrate the impact of race in the hiring of players in the NFL.
Earl Babbie author of The Practice of Social Research: Eleventh Edition speaks of several sampling techniques. He informs the readers of two major sampling methods: probability sampling and non-probability sampling. Probability sampling is predominately used by all surveys that encompass a large population. There are several sub-methods which are used to gather a probability sample. This type of sampling allows researchers to explain the viewpoints of a population by gathering accurate statistical data (Babbie, 2007, p.187). In some instances though, probability sampling is simply not feasible. Babbie (2007) refers to such occurrences when he states: ï¿½suppose you wanted to study homelessness. There is no list of all homeless individuals, nor are you likely to create such a listï¿½ (p.183). This is where non-probability sampling (which was used by the researchers in the article) becomes relevant.
Non-probability sampling, just like probability sampling, has several sub-methods which can be used to collect specific data. In the article published by Dufur and Feinberg, the sub-method of non-probability sampling used is snowball sampling. Snowball sampling is a technique used by field researchers to help them gather a greater sample by interviewing a person and then later asking that person to suggest another person to interview or even the means by which to find another possible member of the population (Babbie, 2007, p.184). One shortcoming of such a method is its ability to gather a sample that is not indicative of the population as a whole, that is to say that it is not a good representation of the characteristics of the population (Babbie, 2007, p. 185). If a member of a certain population has an identical opportunity when compared to any other member of said population of being selected for a sample, the sample is said to be representative of the entire population (Babbie, 2007, p. 189). In the research conducted by Dufur and Feinberg, they outline their use of snowball sampling and how they avoided its pitfalls and used it to their advantage.
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Initially, Dufur and Feinberg had contacted team officials such as coaches and in some cases even the players themselves with the intention of letting them know of their impending research. Dufur and Feinberg attended multiple workouts largely in part due to their initial contacts that had confirmed that they were trustworthy individuals (Dufur, Feinberg, 2009, p. 58). Once Dufur and Feinberg were able to gain access to a practise, they were able to ask players of other players whom they could potentially speak with. One issue that Dufur and Feinberg pointed to was the fact that they were both white and their interviewees were predominately African American, this in turn gave them the legitimate concern that maybe the players may not be as willing to share intimate information with them. Due to their selection in sampling method, they were able to overcome this potential hurdle because every player they had spoken with was referred to Dufur and Feinberg by another player (Dufur and Feinberg, 2009, p.59). Basically, what was seen as a potential confliction turned out to be a positive due to the researchersï¿½ choice in sampling method.
Since many of the players interviewed by Dufur and Feinberg had their future financial security riding on the pre-draft workouts, anonymity became the key to ensure that the playersï¿½ comments along with their names would not be released to the public and their potential coaches. The promise of anonymity also helped the researchers gain the trust of their informants.
Babbie (2007) says that even if the researcher cannot match certain responses to a particular respondent, only then is anonymity achieved (p. 64). When examining Dufurï¿½s and Feinbergï¿½s findings, it is obvious that they are not ensuring anonymity because they conducted face to face interviews. When this is the case, confidentiality is purposed to the respondent as a way to make sure that only the research knows his/her name and that the researcher is accountable for making sure that any sensitive information remains confidential (Babbie, 2007, p. 65). Dufur and Feinberg attempted to combat the problems of providing anonymity and or confidentiality in their findings.
Since Dufur and Feinberg were conducting face to face interviews, it was essential that they could somehow ensure the anonymity of the informants. They had taken several steps to do just that. They attained anonymity by ï¿½not gathering data from these student-athletes while working with them in a supervisory roleï¿½ (Dufur and Feinberg, 2009, p. 59). Another step that the researchers had taken to guarantee anonymity was to use ï¿½double-blind coding to any materials [tapes, notes] generated in interviews or observationsï¿½ (Dufur and Feinberg, 2009, p. 59). Even though Dufur and Feinberg had been conducting face to face interviews with their informants, according to both of their respective university review boards, Dufur and Feinberg had successfully followed the guidelines of ensuring anonymity.
There is an abundance of techniques a researcher has at his or her disposal when it comes to collecting data which can be analyzed to potentially prove or disprove a hypothesis. One way in which researchers find they are able to attain accurate results is through interview surveys. According to Babbie (2007), ï¿½a properly designed and executed interview survey ought to achieve a completion rate of at least 80 to 85 percent (p. 264). Due to interviewer administered questionnaires being able to attain such a high completion rate, they are often the method of choice. Surveys or interviews are used more frequently because they can help a researcher gauge the feelings and viewpoints of the respondents. Respondents are people who take the time to fill out questionnaires which were given to them for the sole purpose of gathering analytical data (Babbie, 2007, p. 244). But on the other hand, as demonstrated by Babbie, surveys and or interviews can be put to a negative use. Babbie (2007) illustrates the misuse of surveying by giving the following example: ï¿½political parties and charitable organizations have begun conducting phone ï¿½surveys.ï¿½ Often under the guise of collecting public opinion about some issues...ï¿½ (p. 245). When Dufur and Feinberg were conducting their research on race and the NFL draft, they used interviews as their main form of gathering information.
Dufur and Feinberg were able to gain access to pre-draft workouts where they were able to interview players and coaches. These interviews were semi-formal according to Dufur and Feinberg (2009, pg. 58). The interviews that were conducted with the players were all face-to-face. Not only did they conduct interviews with players, they had spent more than 100 hours taking part in casual conversations with the players and their family members and also with coaches. These discussions were held in several locations such as the school campus and some even in playersï¿½ homes (Dufur and Feinberg, 2009, p.58). At times, the players and coaches had become so comfortable with the researchers that they were invited to family gatherings and on several occasions, the researchers even invited players to their houses. This type of integration with the respondents may have been an important part of their research as it allowed the players to be relaxed and trusting which in turn provided Dufur and Feinberg with more detailed answers to intimate questions regarding racism in the NFL.
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The researchers also conducted more formalized interviews with players which consisted of 24 open-ended questions (Dufur and Feinberg, 2009, p.60). Open-ended questions allow the respondent to be limitless with their reply. They are not restricted by multiple choice questions which may be administered by questionnaires that need to be filled out (Babbie, 2007, p. 246). Open-ended questions also seem to be important when conducting qualitative interviewing which was used to generate accurate results for Dufur and Feinberg.
The method of qualitative interviewing is a great tool when conducting field research because it presents to opportunity to change a set questions as new information is gathered. Feinberg and Dufur demonstrated such evolution of their questions when they had discovered that African American players had been asked different questions about their life when compared to those questions asked to white players. Dufur and Feinberg (2009) state, ï¿½After potentially racialized hiring practices emerged in early interviews we specifically probed white respondents for similar experiences concerning legal backgrounds and familiesï¿½ (p. 60). Because players had informed the researchers that questions based on stereotypical views of certain racial groups were asked to them by their coaches and other team staff members, Dufur and Feinberg were able to adjust future questions that would ask players about the types of questions which were asked of them.
The job of a researcher seems to be an extremely time consuming job that takes much dedication. The process that researchers in general go through to conduct their research in accordance with sociological guidelines to ensure that their work is academically acceptable is a laborious task. Dufur and Feinberg had to develop relationships with their informants up to a level where they would feel comfortable enough to share intimate information. Relationships like these do not evolve over night; it takes time to trust someone with information that could potentially hurt their career in the NFL. Dufur and Feinberg were able to achieve such relationships with player because their research took ten years (between 1994 - 2004) and in part due to the techniques they had employed during their research. The way their interviews were conducted seemed to be incredibly beneficial to their initial research. The interviews allowed the players to be comfortable in their own environments, such as their homes, and the interviews were not too formal. Also the techniques used to gather their sample of informants (snowball sampling) seemed to be effective because players had trusted them due to the fact that colleagues had referred the researchers to certain players.
Overall, academic journal articles are in invaluable source of new information and also provide the opportunities for other researchers to build upon previously conducted research, as stated in the introduction. Since Dufur and Feinberg were unable to gain access to those who actually hire the players, they were not able to get both viewpoints (players and higher-ups). Because of this, there is the chance to conduct additional research on the subject if other researchers are able to gain access to the general managers and owners of teams.