All the News That’s Fit to Print? How the Media Frames Professional Athlete Philanthropy

in Journal of Sport Management
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Professional athletes are increasingly engaged in social impact efforts via charitable endeavors. Despite seemingly good intentions in these efforts, the media’s representation of athlete philanthropy varies widely. This study examines how discourses of athlete charity are represented in U.S. media coverage. Over 100 newspaper articles were obtained for the period of 2005–2017. The authors conducted a qualitative analysis which consisted of attribute coding for basic article characteristics, identification of both framing and reasoning devices, and deductive coding to identify generic media frames. The authors present an adapted frame matrix highlighting the salient frames in media coverage of athlete philanthropy. Our results show that athlete charitable efforts are related to a personal or emotional connection or linked to an economic perspective around philanthropy. A third frame reflected a moral underpinning to athletes’ charitable work. The authors discuss managerial implications for teams and leagues that provide support for athletes’ charitable work, as well as for the athletes themselves.

The authors are with the Sport Management Program, School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

Babiak (kbabiak@umich.edu) is corresponding author.
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