Shot in Black and White: Visualized Framing in ESPN’s The Body Issue

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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  • 1 Clemson University, USA
  • 2 Weber State University, USA
  • 3 University of Georgia, USA
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The disparity in framing in sport media based on athlete race has historically garnered extensive attention. In the past, the media promoted historical stereotypes of Black athletes that emphasized their physical prowess and diminished their intellectual capacity. However, recent research provides evidence that these traditional frames are changing and that recent media coverage is more racially equitable or even contradicts old patterns. Advancing this critique further, the current study examined novel visual frames (i.e., the emphasis of athleticism, sporting context, and sexualization) of White and Black athletes in ESPN’s The Body Issue. The findings contradict historical patterns of representations of Black athletes through the identification of a shift in the framing patterns for Black male athletes, whereas Black female athletes still face frames that portray them in a stereotypical manner. This study recognizes these tensions while successfully illustrating the importance of examining the intersections of difference for revealing and confronting the unique portrayals of Black female athletes.

Cranmer is with the Dept. of Communication Studies, Clemson University, Clemson, SC. Lancaster is with the Dept. of Communication, Weber State University, Ogden, UT. Harris is with the Dept. of Communication Studies, University of Georgia, Athens, GA.

Address author correspondence to Gregory Cranmer at
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