Understanding Racial Portrayals in the Sports Media

Understanding racial portrayals front cover

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  • Title: Understanding Racial Portrayals in the Sports Media: Why is Michael Vick So Fast and Peyton Manning So Smart
  • Author(s): Daniel Coogan
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Sport & Society
  • Year: 2014
  • ISBN (pbk): 978-1-61229-374-5
  • ISBN (pdf): 978-1-61229-375-2
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/978-1-61229-375-2/CGP
  • Citation: Coogan, Daniel. 2014. Understanding Racial Portrayals in the Sports Media: Why is Michael Vick So Fast and Peyton Manning So Smart. Champaign, IL: Common Ground Research Networks. doi:10.18848/978-1-61229-375-2/CGP.
  • Extent: 108 pages

Abstract

Despite a historical track record of black Americans’ phenomenal athletic success, a racial dichotomy has emerged in the sports media where black athletes’ achievements are qualified based on unearned physical qualities, yet white athletes’ achievements are often attributed to earned cognitive and psychological qualities, like discipline and effort. This presents a problem, as television viewers with limited interactions with individuals outside their own racial or ethnic group tend to rely on the media to form opinions of those other racial and ethnic groups. ESPN’s Sportscenter, with its massive audience and cultural influence, possesses a unique opportunity to undermine stereotypes found in the media coverage of other institutions, like crime and politics. In Understanding Racial Portrayals in the Sports Media: Why is Michael Vick so Fast and Peyton Manning so Smart?, Daniel Coogan analyzes new data on current Sportscenter programming to show that the relationship between portrayal and athlete race may be more complicated than prior research suggests. While evidence of a decline in stereotyping emerges, Coogan identifies that factors, such as the sport, the level of competition, and characteristics of the commentator, affect the likelihood of stereotyping. Understanding Racial Portrayals in the Sports Media presents important reading for anyone interested in the complex relationship between race and the mass media.