State Versus Professional: A Case Study of How Chinese New Media Construct Elite Female Athletes

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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  • 1 Eastern Washington University
  • 2 University of Georgia
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In this case study, the authors examined media representations of two Chinese female athletes—state athlete Ding Ning and professional athlete Li Na—in China, a nation undergoing social transformation and a sport-reform initiative. Analyzing stories from two Chinese web portals (i.e., Sina and Tencent), the authors analyzed how (a) gender, (b) nationalism, and (c) the individualism–collectivism continuum entered into media representations of these two female athletes. Notable differences emerged in all three conceptual areas. A fourth theme, which the authors have identified as the commercialized athlete, also emerged. Possible explanations and implications are discussed.

Xu is with the Dept. of Communication Studies, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA, USA. Kreshel is with the College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Affiliate Faculty, Inst. for Women's Studies, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA.

Xu (qxu@ewu.edu) is corresponding author.
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