Derek Van Rheenen

Derek Van Rheenen’s research interests include the cultural studies of sport, nature sports, sport tourism, ecopedagogy, the connections between sports, learning and schooling, and the role of intercollegiate athletics in the American university system. A former Academic All-American and professional soccer player, Van Rheenen teaches courses on sport, culture, and education. In 1998 he received the Outstanding Dissertation Award in the School of Education, UC Berkeley. Professor Van Rheenen has also been named a Chancellor's Public Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Van Rheenen is the Faculty Coordinator of the BSE-wide MA Program and the Faculty Director of the Cultural Studies of Sport in Education (CSSE) Master's degree specialization for students studying the intersections of school and sport. He has also been the Executive Director of the Athletic Study Center at UC Berkeley since 2001.

Dr. Van Rheenen has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Lille and the International University of Monaco, is an invited speaker at national and international conferences, and is regularly interviewed about the role of sport in society and the intersections of sport and schooling, particularly American college sports.



Small-scale sport tourism events and local sustainable development, with Ricardo Melo and Claude Sobry. A Cross-national comparative perspective. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature AG, 2021.

Envisioning scholar practitioner collaborations: Communities of practice in education and sport, with Jean DeOrnellas. Research Focus on Education and Sport Series. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 2018.

Out of Bounds: When Scholarship Athletes Become Academic Scholars, with Jabari Mahiri. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing, 2010.

Articles (Refereed Journals, Proceedings)

Van Rheenen, D & Melo, R. (2021).  Nature Sports and the Development of a Critical Ecopedagogy  Sustainability, 13, x.

Van Rheenen, D, Pryor, L., Roberson, R., Wright, E. & Glenn, T. (2021). Strength of Religious Faith: A Comparison of College Athletes. Journal of Education and Culture Studies, 6 (5): 61-80.

Coutts, S., & Van Rheenen, D. (2021). Racial Stacking Among Special Teams Units in American College Football. Race and Social Problems, 1-13.

Ashton, J., Van Rheenen, D., & Pryor, L. (2020).  American College Football and Homophobia: An Empirical Study.  Journal of Education and Culture Studies, 4 (3): 171-190.

Melo, R., Van Rheenen, D., & Gammon, S. J. (2020). Part I: nature sports: a unifying concept. Annals of Leisure Research, 23 (1): 1-18.

Melo, R., Van Rheenen, D., & Gammon, S. J. (2020). Part II: nature sports: current trends and the path ahead. Annals of Leisure Research, 23 (2): 133-142.

Bučar, K., Van Rheenen, D., & Hendija, Z. (2019). Ecolabelling in tourism: The disconnect between theory and practice. Turizam: međunarodni znanstveno-stručni časopis67(4), 365-374.

Van Rheenen, D., Cernaianu, S., & Sobry, C. (2017). Defining sport tourism: a content analysis of an evolving epistemology. Journal of Sport & Tourism21(2), 75-93.  

Van Rheenen, D., Grigorieff, M., & Adams, J.N. (2017).  Envisioning innovation at the intersection of sport and disability: A Blueprint for American higher education.  Journal of Higher Education, Athletics, and Innovation, 1(2): 92-109.

Van Rheenen, D., Guevin, E., Atwood, J.R., & Pryor, L. (2016). Baseball, game of inches: Superstitious behavior and the uncertainty hypothesis among American college athletes. Exedra: Revista Cientifica, Special Issue: Sport in Higher Education, 66-78.

Van Rheenen, D. (2016). The blind leading the blind: Goalball as engaged scholarship. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 29(1), 25-34.

Van Rheenen, D. (2014). A skunk at the garden party: The Sochi Olympics, state-sponsored homophobia and prospects for human rights through mega sporting events. Journal of Sport & Tourism, 19(2), 1-18.

Van Rheenen, D. (2014). Confirmatory factor analysis of perceived exploitation of college athletes questionnaire. Journal of College Student Development, 55(5), 486-491.

Van Rheenen, D. (2013). Exploitation in college sports: Race, revenue and educational reward. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 48(5), 550-571. Reprinted in Sport and Leisure Management, M. Weed (Ed.). NZ: Canterbury Christ Church University, December 2013.

Van Rheenen, D., Minjares, V., McNeil, N., & Atwood, J.R. (2012). Becoming REGS: The impact of institutional sport elimination on Division I student athletes. International Journal of Sport & Society, 3(2), 91-105.

Van Rheenen, D. (2012). A century of historical change in the game preferences of American children. Journal of American Folklore, 125(498), 411-443.

Van Rheenen, D. (2011). Exploitation in the American academy: College athletes and Self-perceptions of value. The International Journal of Sport and Society, 2(4), 11-26.

Van Rheenen, D., Minjares, V., McNeil, N., & Atwood, J.R. (2011). The elimination of varsity sports at a Division I institution: A student athlete perspective. Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education, 5(3), 161-180.

Van Rheenen, D. (2011). Reflections of an after-school literacy program and the educational value of Taekwondo: A preliminary analysis. Journal of Asian Martial Arts, 20(4), 9-25. Reprinted in Taekwondo Studies: Advanced Theory & Practice, M.A. DeMarco & T.G. LaFredo (Eds.) Via Media Publishing, March 2015.

Van Rheenen, D. (2009). The promise of soccer in America: The marking and open play of ethnicity in the San Francisco Soccer Football League (SFSFL). Soccer and Society, 10, 781-794.

Van Rheenen, D. (1998). Boys who play hopscotch: The historical divide of a gendered space. In Children’s Folklore Review: 22: 5-31. Reprinted in Play and Culture Studies: Theory in Context and Out (2001): 3: 111-130.

Simons, H.D. & Van Rheenen, D. (2000). Non–cognitive predictors of student athletes’ academic performance. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 30, 167-181.

Simons, H.D., Van Rheenen, D., & Covington, M.V. (1999). Academic motivation and the student athlete. Journal of College Student Development, 40, 151-161.

Book Chapters

Van Rheenen, D. (2021). Soccer in San Francisco: The emergence and endurance of the ethnic and amateur game. In Soccer Frontiers: The Global Game in the United States, 1863–1913. C. Bolsmann & G. Kioussis (Eds.). Knoxville, TN: The University of Tennessee Press.  

Van Rheenen, D., Sobry, C., & Melo, R. (2021). Running tourism and the global rise of small-scale sport tourism events.  In R. Melo, C. Sobry & D. Van Rheenen (Eds.), Small-scale sport tourism events and local sustainable development: A Cross-national comparative perspective, pp. #-#.  Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature AG.

Van Rheenen, D., Melo, R., & Sobry, C. (2021). Defining a methodology for a cross-national comparative study.  In R. Melo, C. Sobry & D. Van Rheenen (Eds.), Small-scale sport tourism events and local sustainable development: A Cross-national comparative perspective, pp. #-#.  Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature AG.

Van Rheenen, D. (2019). Reproducing race logic in higher education: Exploitation, athletic privilege and institutional resentment. In S. Dgakas, L. Azzarito, K. Hylton (Eds.), Race’, ‘racism’ and ‘race logic’ in youth sport, physical activity and health: Global perspectives. Routledge Critical Perspectives on Equality and Social Justice in Sport and Leisure. New York, NY: Routledge.

Van Rheenen, D., DeOrnellas, J.M., Newman, J., Smith, R., Adams, J. N., Grigorieff, M., & Wyatt, W.T. (2018). Goalball as engaged scholarship. In D. Van Rheenen & J.M. DeOrnellas (Eds.), Envisioning scholar practitioner collaborations: Communities of practice in education and sport (pp.31-44). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Van Rheenen, D. (2017). Promoting responsible sustainability in sport tourism: A logic model approach. In M. Dodds, K. Heisey, & A. Ahonen (Eds.), Routledge handbook of international sport business (pp. 317-332). New York, NY: Routledge.   

Van Rheenen, D. (2017, March 9). [Review of the book Transforming understandings of diversity in higher education: Demography, democracy, and discourse by P.A. Pasque, N. Ortega, J. C. Burkhart, & M.P. Ting.] Teachers College Record. Available at

Van Rheenen, D. Cernaianu, S., Sobry, C., & Wille, F. (2017). Sport tourism research in the 21st century: Future prospects for an evolving epistemology. In R. Melo & C. Sobry (Eds.), Sport tourism: New challenges in a globalized world (pp. 26-46). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Van Rheenen, D. (2015). The educational dilemma of academic support for NCAA college athletes: Playing the high-stakes game of advising to the APR. In E. Comeaux (Ed.), Introduction to intercollegiate athletics in American higher education (pp. 355-365). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Interests and Professional Affiliations


Academic and Motivational Issues of Student Athletes

At-Risk Youth

Cultural Studies

Educational Equity

Gender Equity

Higher Education Administration

History of Education

Learner-centered Education


Participatory Research

Politics of School Structure and Governance

Qualitative Methods

Research Methods

School and non-school Learning Contexts

University Admissions

Urban Schooling


PhD, University of California, Berkeley; Cultural Studies

MA, University of California, Berkeley; Education

BA, University of California, Berkeley; Political Economy/German


Office #4230

School of Education
Berkeley Way West Building (BWW)
UC Berkeley
2121 Berkeley Way
Berkeley, CA 94720-1670


(510) 642-0605