2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Jennifer Metz

Aurora University
A "Notorious" spectacle: Reading Conor McGregor through a narrative lens

Despite considerable sociological and physical cultural studies work examining the notion of sport as spectacle, relatively little of that research has focused on the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) in general, or on arguably the most high-profile athlete in the sport, former UFC champ Conor McGregor.  Nevertheless, scholars have examined how individual fighters like former UFC women’s champ, Ronda Rousey, was presented via popular media, as well as how she framed herself using social media (Barnett, 2017; Sailors & Weaving, 2017).  Drawing on work from both the study of sport as spectacle and media representations, the purpose of this paper was to examine the events that surrounded the lead-up to McGregor’s 2017 fight with undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather through the lens of narrative analysis (Carless & Douglas, 2013; Smith & Sparkes, 2012).  By analyzing popular media sources and McGregor’s Twitter during the multiple city “roadshow” meant to generate hype for the fight, we argue that the problematic and yet sometimes contradictory intersection of stories related to masculinity, racism, sexism, violence, and fatherhood worked to tell a particular story meant to sell the event to diverse audiences in a fractured and neoliberal sport fan landscape.