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

Patrick Crowe

University of Rhode Island
Redemption for all? An Exploration of Racial Bias in ESPN.com’s Framing of NFL Domestic Violence Cases

With a number of children experiencing or witnessing domestic violence at home (Holt, Buckley, Whelan, 2008), it comes as no surprise that this societal problem bleeds into the sporting world. The NFL has been known to be lenient toward domestic violence cases, but will essentially blackball a player for kneeling during the anthem (Wang, 2017). In this paper, I will execute a critical analysis of the way ESPN.com chooses to represent stories centered on athletic domestic violence to ascertain if racial biases exist in domestic violence reporting. Three cases were chosen from 2014-2017; Ray Rice, Josh Brown, and Michael Bowie, to see how the NFL treated each individual case in different seasons. A six month window will be open for all articles published by ESPN.com from the date when the incident was first brought to public attention. Other scholars have noted that white males often receive redemption stories from the media opposed to harsh disciplinarian stories for males of color (Leonard, 2017).  An intersectionality approach will be taken to discuss the cases to their fullest extent and reveal media biases and the level of care the NFL has for domestic violence situations.