Incivility and Washington’s NFL Franchise: Exploring Uncivil Discourse in Sports Blog Comment Sections

in International Journal of Sport Communication

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James BingamanDepartment of Communication, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA

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The current study sought to explore the prevalence of uncivil discourse surrounding the Washington NFL team’s removal of offensive Native American imagery and later rebranding as the Washington Commanders. The study employed a quantitative content analysis to assess comment sections of news stories on a sports blog between 2014 and 2022. In addition to uncivil discourse, contextual elements such as popularity, reciprocity, and directionality of incivility were also examined. Dovetailing with existing research, roughly one quarter of all comments featured an element of uncivil discourse, with derogatory slurs toward Native Americans being particularly common. Additionally, contextual elements served important roles in the facilitation of incivility. Taken together, the results point to some of the antisocial behavior that can occur in seemingly innocuous online spaces that often reflect broader social and political turmoil related to Native American imagery in sport.

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