Producing Sport Mega Events

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Abstract

A large body of academic work has identified sport media as a popular discursive site where meanings are given to race/ethnicity. These works often focus on international mega-events such as the Olympic Games and the men’s football World Cup and point to how athletes in these events are often made sense of through reductive and racializing stereotypes. The findings of these—often textual—analyses seem remarkably persistent, notwithstanding what seems a broader societal awareness about the role of sport media in reproducing racial/ethnic stereotypes, also among sport media professionals. In this article we will focus on this apparent sturdiness and resilience of racialized representations in sport media. We argue that further sustained attention to the cultures of production in mediated sport events such as the Olympic Games can advance understandings as to why representations take the shape that they do. We will do so by drawing on our recent studies on the production of televised football in four different European countries: Spain, England, The Netherlands, and Poland. The article will include reflections on how theoretical perspectives from Cultural Studies and Critical Race Theory can serve as useful theoretical underpinnings in exploring the role of race/ethnicity in the production process of mediated sport and will conclude with some sensitizing concepts for studies to further deconstruct the racialized regimes of representation that have been persistently identified in sport media research.