Biased Voices of Sports: Racial and Gender Stereotyping in College Basketball Announcing

Howard Journal of Communication 10/2001; 12(4):183-201. DOI: 10.1080/106461701753287714


The words of sportscasters—repeated hundreds, even thousands, of times by different announcers in similar ways—provide a conceptual frame for the sports experience, and that mental frame has particular importance because fans often apply it to nonathletic situations. Contrary to assertions by some critics, analysis of 1,156 descriptors in sportscaster commentary during 66 televised men's and women's college basketball games showed no significant difference between the proportions of commentary and proportions of participating Black and White men players, but showed some overemphasis in comments about White women players. Predictably, Black men players tended to be stereotyped as naturally athletic, quick, and powerful, while White men players continued to be touted for their hard work, effort, and mental skill. The same racial stereotypes also appeared in the commentary about women basketball players, but few gender stereotypes emerged. Thus, increases in the numbers of Black and women game announcers may have lent balance to quantities of coverage by race and gender, but traditional racial stereotypes continue to pervade sports commentary even when gender stereotypes appear to be diminishing.

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    • "Although this demonstrates that reporter race can influence aspects of coverage, it does not mean frames within coverage will vary, as the topic and sources of a news story are different constructs than frames (Pan & Kosicki, 1993). Although the majority of studies that have examined the role of reporter race have focused on factors surrounding content (e.g., topics and sources), few studies have examined the actual frames used in that content, especially within a sports context (Billings, 2004; Eastman & Billings, 2001). Billings (2004) examined the influence of oral commentators' race on their use of the brawn frame to describe Black college and professional football quarterbacks , and suggested that White commentators framed Black quarterbacks' successes in the brawn frame, but Black commentators did not. "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous literature has established the widespread use of frames that contrast athletes’ physical (i.e., the “brawn” frame, often used for Black athletes) and mental abilities (i.e., the “brain” frame, often used for White athletes) in mediated sports content, particularly oral commentary, which tends to be more spontaneous in nature. The current study analyzed the presence and salience of brawn and brain frames of Heisman finalists in newspaper articles as a function of reporter race; extending previous research by examining (a) written content and (b) reporter race as an antecedent condition. Results confirm the existence of “brawn” and “brain” biases in written sports content, with no influence of reporter race on these patterns. The lack of influence of reporter race—a finding that contradicts research on oral commentary—suggests an institutional influence on frame use in written sports coverage as a function of the more planned nature of “print” media.
    Howard Journal of Communication 04/2014; 25(2). DOI:10.1080/10646175.2014.890979
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    • "In both implicit and explicit measures of attitudes, we consistently found that stereotypical descriptions of athletes by traditional media have been deeply ingrained among the participants. Our findings support previous studies that found the stereotypes that people have of Blacks athletes (Billings, 2003, 2004; Denham, et al., 2002; Eastman & Billings, 2001; Halone & Billings, 2010; Rada & Wulfemeyer, 2005; Rainville, et al., 1978). Our study differed in that these stereotypes were positive attributes. "
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    ABSTRACT: Countless content analyses of sports coverage revealed that sports journalists associate particular adjectives to athletes based on race. A recurring pattern is the brain vs. brawn dichotomy. In a 2 (race: Black vs. White player) x 2 (description: stereotype-consistent vs. inconsistent) x 2 (source: journalist vs. blogger) within-subjects experiment, we empirically tested if the same set of stereotypes holds true among those exposed to these media stereotypes. Using both implicit (response latency) and explicit (credibility rating) measures, we found a consistent pattern of stereotyping Black athletes. Stereotypes were activated the quickest by a stereotypical description of a Black athlete. A journalist was also rated most credible when stereotypically describing a Black athlete.
    AEJMC, Chicago; 08/2013
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    • "This study uses a similar qualitative methodology to discover the themes and frames used to describe MLB athletes of differing races and nationalities. Review of Literature Media Portrayals of Minority Athletes in General Research on the stereotypes and portrayals of minority athletes in sport settings revealed that that successful White athletes are portrayed as achieving success due to controllable factors like a strong work ethic or intelligence , while successful Black athletes are portrayed as achieving success due to incontrollable factors like natural talent or physiological or biological advantage (Billings & Eastman, 2002; Birrell, 1989; Denham, Billings , & Halone, 2002; Eastman & Billings, 2001; Harris, 1993; McCarthy & Jones, 1997; Staples & Jones, 1985; Whannel, 1992). In addition, Wonsek (1992) found that White athletes are often portrayed as having natural leadership abilities in team sports. "
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    ABSTRACT: Racial and nationality-based stereotypes of professional baseball players have been prominent in the U.S. media since the 1800s (Voigt, 1976). To determine the manner and extent to which such stereotypes exist in the media today, a qualitative document analysis was conducted on the nation's top two general-interest sport magazines, Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine from 2000 to 2007. Based on framing theory, the purpose of the study was to determine what differences existed between the frames used to describe athletes of differing nationalities and races. The results revealed that stereotypes based on race and nationalities were maintained throughout the study in both publications, further perpetuating such stereotypes in the minds of readers. In addition, differences existed in portrayals of athletes of the same race but different nationalities. Implications for sport managers and suggestions for future research are addressed.
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