The Rhetoric of Racism in Sport: Tom Brokaw Revisited

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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This article provides a sociorhetorical analysis of the April 25, 1989, NBC telecast of “Black Athletes—Fact and Fiction.” It applies Toulmin’s (1958) model of the structure of argumentation to identify the major claims, data, and warrants Tom Brokaw used to construct the program and argues that a racist rhetorical structure resulted. We posit that the racism lay in the claims Brokaw made, the data he utilized, the inferences he drew from selected sources, and the absence of alternative explanations. The sociological implications of such a racist rhetorical structure are explored.

James A. Mathisen is with the Department of Sociology/Anthropology at Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL 60187. Gerald S. Mathisen is with Pastoral Studies at Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL.

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