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Travis R. Bell

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Travis R. Bell and Jimmy Sanderson

In December 2015, the movie Concussion was released. The film portrayed the story of Dr Bennet Omalu, who is credited with discovering chromic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of deceased National Football League players. Before the release, on December 7, 2015, Omalu penned an op-ed in The New York Times in which he opined that children should not play tackle football. This research explores 114 reader comments on Omalu’s op-ed through the lens of Nisbet’s bottom-up framing. Using a mixed-methods approach, the results indicated that participants framed the issue through health and safety, American cultural values, parenting liability, and skepticism. Linguistic analysis revealed that comments contained a negative tone, with women’s comments being more negative than men’s. The analysis suggests that online news forums function as spaces where public deliberation around the viability of children playing tackle football occurs and illustrates the tensions around risk, sport participation, and health and safety that confront parents as they grapple with the decision to let their children play tackle football

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Travis R. Bell and Karen L. Hartman

In March 2016 the highest-paid women’s athlete, Maria Sharapova, called a press conference to announce a failed drug test. Sharapova relied on the crisis communication strategy of stealing thunder to present the information to media and break the story. The authors analyze how the press conference and her strategy were portrayed in traditional and online media and how Sharapova promoted and broadcast the press conference to defend herself. Using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software and textual analysis, the authors argue that Sharapova’s use of the stealing-thunder strategy successfully influenced media narratives about her suspension and should be considered by athletes in crisis situations.