Sexist Acts in Sports: Media Reactions and Forms of Apologia

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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  • 1 University of Connecticut, USA
  • | 2 Springfield College, USA
  • | 3 The Ohio State University, USA
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Critical analysis of media coverage is vital as scholars have long suggested that what the media choose to cover and how they choose to cover it have incredible influence on audience perceptions. Therefore, how the media cover negative incidents and sexist comments relative to women in sport can illuminate the manner in which they reinforce or challenge the hegemonic nature of sport. This study critically examined the media’s reaction to 5 specific sexist incidents in sport from 2004 to 2007 and the reactions of the perpetrators themselves and their defenders as represented in the media. Articles (N = 278) covering the incidents from 5 large newspapers representing different areas of the United States were analyzed. Results indicated that there were 4 strategies of apologia (i.e., denial, bolstering, transcendence, and differentiation), and 2 other themes, silence and marginalized sexism, emerged. Theoretical and practical implications of the results are discussed.

Fink is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Borland is with Sport Management and Recreation, Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Fields is with the School of Physical Activity and Educational Services, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

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