Bob Costas and UT Austin students

Legendary sportscaster Bob Costas meets with students before his addres at the Frank Deford Lecture in Sports Journalism

Center for Sports Communication & Media

Politics in Sports Media: 2022 report

PiSM cover

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 

Where Are They Now: Recent Moody Graduates

recent grads

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
This conversation was hosted via Zoom on March 31, 2021 at 5 pm CDT. Watch the recording on YouTube now.
Frank Deford and Mike Cramer

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.

Wright Thompson and Dan Jenkins

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.

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