Get That S.O.B. Off the Field: A Critical Discourse Analysis of NFL Team Owners’ Responses to President Trump’s Comments About Athlete Protests

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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In this study, scholarship was extended on the cultural meanings of race and athlete activism by interrogating one key media spectacle surrounding athlete protests: President Trump’s 2017 speech questioning the National Football League (NFL) players’ character, with a focus on NFL owners’ responses. The NFL owners’ statements (n = 32) were subjected to critical discourse analysis. Discourses of post-racial nationalism and functionalism and the subject positions of “good player citizen” and “benevolent facilitator” (re)created meanings of the protests devoid of racial politics, linked to ideologies of color blindness, meritocracy, and diversity. These discourses and subject positions allowed the NFL owners to control protest meanings to maintain White privilege and appeal to their White fan base. These findings expand research on color-blind racism in sport, which perpetuates neoliberal ideals and the myth of a post-racial America, via taken-for-granted language use within discourses.

McGannon is with the School of Human Kinetics, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Butryn is with the Department of Kinesiology, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, USA.

Address author correspondence to Kerry R. McGannon at kmcgannon@laurentian.ca.
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