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The National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC) primetime broadcast of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics over 18 nights was analyzed to determine differences between the network’s treatment of U.S. and non-U.S. Olympians. Consistent with previous findings, an American athlete was the most mentioned athlete, and Americans composed the majority of the Top 20 most mentioned athletes. In contrast to previous findings, American athletes accounted for only 38.68% of the mentions, the lowest amount recorded since studies began with the 1996 Games. In addition, a sport-by-sport analysis revealed that an American was the most mentioned athlete in 8 of the 15 winter sports, and Americans received more mentions in 4 winter sports. Regarding descriptions ascribed to the Olympians, American athletes were more likely to be portrayed as succeeding due to superior concentration, composure, and commitment, while non-Americans were more likely to be portrayed as failing due to a lack of concentration, strength, and ability. Non-Americans were also more likely to be described as modest/introverted. Contextualization of these findings is provided.
MacArthur is with the Communication and Media Dept., Utica College, Utica, NY, USA. Smith is with the Media School, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA.