This case study examined the effects of equivocation in sport communication. U.S. National Football League quarterback Tom Brady held a press conference in January 2015 during a scandal. The author experimentally manipulated versions of the press conference, one with equivocal parts included (e.g., “I don’t know, I have no idea”), and one with those parts removed. Outcome measures included source credibility and perceptions of dodging questions. When Brady equivocated, participants perceived him to have more goodwill. Furthermore, his equivocal answers were not perceived as dodging the questions. This case study helps extend predictions of strategic ambiguity and equivocation theory into the field of sport communication.
The author is with the School of Communication, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.