Document Type



Final Published Version

Publication Title

International Review for The Sociology Of Sport



Publication Date



This paper analyzes the patterns of retention in SportsClasses of promising young athletes in Denmark. Since 2005, SportsClasses have provided extra training for potential elite athletes in Grades 7-9 in designated Danish public schools. They were introduced after the Danish Ministry of Culture lowered the age of recruitment for athletes from 15 to 12 in response to increased competition in the world of elite sports. The SportsClasses attempt to balance collaboration between two different organizations: Danish public schools and sports clubs. Using a survey of the student population in 2013 and a follow-up sample in 2015, we explore the respondents’ social backgrounds and experiences in order to understand their likelihood of retention during the program and their career aspirations. Focusing on socioeconomic status, the role of having parents in elite sports, gender, and type of sport, we study what key experiences and relationships lead students to abandon or sustain their interest in careers related to sports and how this differs for boys and girls. By applying Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and types of capital, we conclude that the program produces elements of both reproduction and opportunity but that the patterns strongly favor the retention of boys compared to girls.


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