It’s Not About the Game: Don Imus, Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Media

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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Using intersectionality and hegemony theory, we critically analyze mainstream print news media’s response to Don Imus’ exchange on the 2007 NCAA women’s basketball championship game. Content and textual analysis reveals the following media frames: “invisibility and silence”; “controlling images versus women’s self-definitions”; and, “outside the frame: social issues in sport and society.” The paper situates these media frames within a broader societal context wherein 1) women’s sports are silenced, trivialized and sexualized, 2) media representations of African-American women in the U. S. have historically reproduced racism and sexism, and 3) race and class relations differentially shape dominant understandings of African-American women’s participation in sport. We conclude that news media reproduced monolithic understandings of social inequality, which lacked insight into the intersecting nature of oppression for women, both in sport and in the United States.

Cooky is with Purdue University, Department of Health & Kinesiology and Women’s Studies, West Lafayette, IN. Wachs is with the Department of Psychology/Sociology, Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona, CA. Messner is with the University of Southern California, Department of Sociology, Los Angeles, CA. Dworkin is with the University of California, San Francisco, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, San Francisco, California.

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