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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Janet H. Gritzner


The combined athletic budget for all of South Dakota’s high schools was $362,637. 44 in 1971 (Wheeler 1970); the 2010-2011 athletic budget for the lone high school in Brookings, SD, the fourth largest community in the state, was $769,468.00 (Brookings Public Schools). Despite the growth, impact, and changes to high school athletics in the state, geographers have neglected to conduct a single related study. This paper poses several questions to gain insight into the character of the state’s sportscape. Primary among these is how strongly sense of place influences high school athlete’s perception of sports. Supplemental questions include whether or not success in sports is uniform across the state, and if the importance of sport, the value of particular sports, and the motivation to participate in sport and particular sports varies from location to location. Spatial framing of historical records was used to determine the pattern of success, defined as state championship victories. Opinions from prominent coaches and athletic directors were gathered to provide insight. Perceptions of athletes from across the state were surveyed and analyzed to answer questions of sport value and motivation. Particular emphasis was placed on the degree to which student perceptions of value compared to perceived community value and how greatly recognition from the community motivates athletic participation. The variation between locations, particularly between those that have won many championships, and those that have not, is central to this research. South Dakota high school wrestling, boys’ track and field, football, and boys’ basketball comprise the study’s scope. This paper analyzes the spatial pattern of one aspect of human behavior, high school sports. It finds that clustering of championship success does occur and that slight deviations in sense of place do exist in regard to the perception of particular sports between locations, but that these perceptions are generally homogenous. Important insights into the character of South Dakota’s sportscape have been found with the data obtained.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

School sports -- South Dakota
School sports -- South Dakota -- Attitudes
Human geography


Includes bibliographical references (pages 161-164)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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