The purpose of this study was to examine the "goodness of fit" in sport media research, specifically how audiences interpret media images of Black male athletes and the ways in which their interpretations "fit" with scholarly assertions pertaining to racially marked media depictions. Participants in the study (n=36) were part of eight focus groups segmented by age, gender and race. They viewed and discussed mainstream media images of Black male athletes found on major American sport media websites (ESPN.com and SI.com). The images corresponded with five categories of representation found in the literature: highly competent/natural athlete, exotic savage, deviant, emotionally immature, and race transcendent. Although results were systematically compared across groups, race seemed to be the most significant factor in focus group responses. White participant responses provided support for some of the scholarly assertions (stereotype interpreted as reality, conditional acceptance of Black male athletes, perception of sport as upward mobility and the myth of meritocracy) while African American focus group responses were more likely to challenge some assertions (stereotypes interpreted as reality, perception of sport as upward mobility and myth of meritocracy), and confirm the existence of others (conditional acceptance of Black male athletes). Similar to the sport media study by Kane and Maxwell (2011), which utilized audience reception research, this project aims to generate knowledge and awareness that sport leaders could use to implement programs or practices which have the ability to transform sport and society into a truly equitable realm.
Houghton, Emily Jane. (2013). Assessing the "goodness of fit" between scholarly assertions and audience interpretations of media images of Black male athletes (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy, http://hdl.handle.net/11299/155855.
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