Politics in Sports Media: 2022 report
The Center for Sports Communication & Media (CSCM) at The University of Texas at Austin is proud to announce its first annual report, “Politics in Sports Media.” This comprehensive study of sports media content in the United States captures a range of audience perceptions and details critical issues in sports media.
The report’s research team includes 16 faculty members and graduate students, mostly in the Moody College of Communication. The team was led by Dr. Natalie Brown-Devlin, Dr. Jennifer McClearen, and CSCM director, Dr. Michael L. Butterworth. “Politics in Sports Media” defines “politics” broadly to include references to campaigns, elected officials, and legislation as well as matters of power, resources, and equity. The relationship between sports and politics is neither new nor temporary and CSCM plans to issue this report each January. Highlights for 2022 include:
- Sports media viewers rated topics involving elected officials or candidates as the most political topic
- Sports media viewers rated athlete protests as one of the most political topics
- Sports media viewers rated transgender athlete rights as political but were more neutral about gender issues generally
- 85% of sports media viewers who identified as Republican opposed athlete protests; 68% of those identifying as Democrat supported them
- Among mainstream sports media outlets, ESPN received the highest scores for Credibility, Accuracy, and Trustworthiness from sports media viewers
- Among mainstream sports media outlets, Fox Sports was perceived to be the most “Conservative” and NBC Sports the most “Liberal” by sports media viewers.
- Overall, sports viewers who identified as Democrat were more favorable than those who identified as Republican about the mixing of sports and politics
- Critical case studies demonstrate structural relationships between sports media and political issues
- The first case study looks to the anniversary of 9/11 to question the use of “unity” as a political symbol in sports
- The second case study explores the tension between individualism and the public welfare with regard to COVID vaccines in sports
- The third case study examine the metaphor of “paternalism” used in the discussions of name, image, and likeness (NIL) in the NCAA
- The fourth case study notes tendencies in sports media to focus on political implications for legislators—and not for athletes—in state bills opposing transgender athlete participation
- The fifth case study acknowledges the challenge for advocates of women’s sports leagues such as the NWSL who may underplay ethical abuses for fear of blunting the momentum for women athletes
- The sixth case study points out sports media limitations in coverage of Black women athletes and suggests individuals such as Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka are increasingly taking control of their own stories
Roger Angell and Mitchell S. Jackson have been named 2021 award winners by the Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting jury.
Angell receives the Lifetime Achievement award while Jackson is recognized for the best sportswriting of the year (2020). This is the fifth year these national awards have been named. They were created in honor of Jenkins, the legendary Texas sportswriter, to celebrate the craft and culture of sportswriting he personified through his storied career. For more information see www.jenkinsmedal.com.
Angell is a senior editor and a staff writer at The New Yorker, to which he has contributed since 1944. Since 1962, he has written more than a hundred Sporting Scene pieces for the magazine, mostly on baseball but also on tennis, hockey, football, rowing, and horse racing. His baseball books include “The Summer Game,” “Five Seasons,” “Late Innings,” “Season Ticket,” “Once More Around the Park,” “A Pitcher’s Story,” and “Game Time.” His writing has appeared in many anthologies, including “The Best American Sports Writing,” “The Best American Short Stories,” “The Best American Essays,” and “The Best American Magazine Writing.” His work has also been collected in nine of his own books, among them “The Stone Arbor and Other Stories,” “A Day in the Life of Roger Angell,” “Let Me Finish,” and “This Old Man: All in Pieces.” “Nothing but You: Love Stories from The New Yorker” is an anthology of fiction selected by him.
Mitchell S. Jackson receives the 2021 Jenkins Medal for Best Sportswriting award, a citation for Twelve Minutes and a Life: Ahmaud Arbery went out for a jog and was gunned down in the street. How running fails Black America, published by Runner’s World. In the piece, Jackson recounts the circumstances that led to Arbery’s murder and its stinging cultural legacy as Arbery, a 25-year old Black man, was pursued by armed white men and fatally shot while jogging in Glynn County, Georgia. Jackson’s piece also won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing and the 2021 National Magazine Award in Feature Writing.
Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell, a graduate of the Moody College of Communication, was named the Jenkins Medal Legend award winner.
Where Are They Now: Recent Moody Graduates
Kevin Robbins, CSCM Associate Director and Professor in the School of Journalism and Media, led a roundtable discussion with five recent graduates of the Moody College of Communication who are working in various capacity in sports journalism and sports media. Participants include:
- Andres Farrera, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations (2019), Corporate Account Executive, St. Louis FC
- Rachel Goodman, School of Journalism and Media (2016), Associate Producer, NBC Sports
- Shivam Patel, Department of Communication Studies (2019), Founder and Host, Patel Pick and Roll Sports, Media and Promotions
- Christine Taylor, Department of Radio-TV-Film (2020), Production Assistant, CBS Sports
- Jeremy Thomas, School of Journalism and Media (2015), Multimedia Journalist, KTRE-TV
The Frank Deford Lecture in Sports Journalism
The Center for Sports Communication and Media hosts the Frank Deford Lecture in Sports Journalism every April on the UT-Austin campus to hear leading professionals address the pressing cultural issues of the day. Named after the iconic journalist who left substantial bodies of work in print, radio and television at the time of his death in 2017, the Deford Lecture offers Moody College students access to the leading sports journalists of the day.
The Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting
The Center for Sports Communication and Media hosts the Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting as a celebration of the craft and history of sportswriting. Named in honor of the legendary Texan and one of the most accomplished sportwriters of his generation, the Jenkins Medal is awarded annually at a dinner every fall.