This study of spectator groups viewing televised professional football revealed that spectators, particularly women, acted upon sport texts to empower themselves. Radical empowerment for women occurred when female spectators subverted the premises of the televised football spectacle, using irony, sarcasm, and limited commitment to the game to refuse the preferred (patriarchal) readings of the text. Liberal empowerment occurred when women (and men) used mediation as a way of extending the self into the game. While men often availed themselves of mediation in this way, women did so less often, perhaps because liberal empowerment is ultimately disempowering to women.
Margaret Carlisle Duncan is with the Department of Human Kinetics and Barry Brummett is with the Department of Communication, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201.