Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

Committee Member

Dr. John Spinda, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Angela Pratt

Committee Member

Dr. Erin Ash


Previous research has demonstrated that athletes are often framed in a variety of ways through media based on a myriad of factors such as race and other forms of social issues. However, Black athletes have also been at the forefront of athlete activism, which has seen a resurgence in popular sports like football and basketball. One example of athlete activism within recent years has been the national anthem protests occurring in the National Football League (NFL) being conducted by the players. As a result, these protests have gained widespread media coverage and put the players at the forefront of conversations of race and social issues. The purpose of this study seeks to explore the framing of media coverage surrounding national anthem protests in the NFL. Through a qualitative thematic analysis, this study analyzed 80 editorials from media publications across the United States discussing the NFL protests. By doing so, this study aimed to analyze the media discourse surrounding concepts of social issues in sports and athlete activism. Additionally, this study sought to add to existing media literature while encouraging readers to better understand dynamic conversations occurring within journalistic coverage of sports and social issues. Future applications of research beyond this study include the exploration of different new media platforms and emerging initiatives beyond traditional media outlets.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.