Nothing to #lose(r) all stars commentary
While there seems to be a wealth of research on (mis)representations of athletes in traditional media, there is a lack of scholarship concerning online communities consisting of readers’ comments on sports websites and in social media. Moreover, such studies merit an interdisciplinary and Ethnic Studies approach to analyzing evidence given the persistent issues regarding racism and related discrimination in sports, sports media and athletes involved in political activism. This research demonstrates how the images and dominant narratives of athletes are presented and reproduced through sports media and how these representations and narratives impact the exchange of dialogue and other views expressed by fans (and followers) online. With the growth of the Internet, fans are instantly connected and can contribute to discussion by visiting major sports websites and social media. As sports fans are behind a screen, the Internet veil, the views expressed in private are candid and they purport to be honest; therefore it is essential to examine such discourse. This research has the following objectives: a) to understand how sports fans participate online, b) what types of discursive practices are utilized by online readers and c) to understand the meanings, trends and attitudes of readers’ comments. Discourse analysis and virtual ethnography examining hashtags and breaking news stories during January 2014 to January 2015 from websites such as ESPN.com, Yahoo.com/sports, cbssports.com as well as other social media microblogging sites, such as Twitter. By exploring representations of athletes and sports matters through analysis of racial discourse and racial attitudes in cyberspace, this study contributes to Ethnic Studies as well as other academic disciplines concerned with the intersections of race, sports and language.