Highly Resistant Hegemonic Discourses in the Sport
This essay will look at highly resistant hegemonic discourses in sport that relate to ethnicity and race, and whether these discourses have been successfully challenged by the promotion of alternative discourses in recent years. Therefore, both the highly resistant discourses and the new alternative discourses will be analysed to identify if the challenge has been successful.
In this essay Fairclough’s definition of discourse as the ‘constructions or significations of some domain of social practice from a particular perspective’ will be used. In the 20th century, both in the UK and the U.S., sports and therefore by extension sports media was primarily a white male-dominated institution that often support the dominant position of middle to upper class white men, their dominance comes primarily in the form of socioeconomic status.
Hargreaves stated that the capability of the sport media to repeatedly reach many different people at the same time gives them a great deal of power in confirming and reconstructing images that are congruent with hegemonic discourses about social group relations. It is virtually impossible today to avoid the media and its discourses in some form or another whether that be newspapers, tv, social media or radio etc. and therefore these media sources can and will heavily influence sports discourses related to ethnicity.
When analyzing the discourses in sport relating to ethnicity, it is far subtler compared to other discourses in sport such as gender because professional sport is not structured along ethnicity as it is by gender. Men and women will play in different leagues and will never face each other competitively but professional sport is never defined or organized by race or ethnicity. Dave and Harris claim that one hegemonic discourse in sport is that black athletes tend to be represented more often as ‘natural’ athletes with great physical power, whereas.
However, white athletes tend to be described more often in terms of intellect, perseverance and hard work than black athletes are. One example of this comes from the New York Times on April 15th, 1947; one reporter called Arthur Daley wrote “The muscular Negro minds his own business and shrewdly makes no effort to push himself.” The use of the word muscular highlights the hegemonic discourse that prevailed sport which was further fueled by the mainstream media.
The media will often reproduce an image that associates blackness with being ‘naturally’ suited to perform well in sport and of whiteness as being congruent with the ability to perform mental tasks. This representation of black and white athletes seems to reinforce a dominant societal status quo, in which black athletes are more often associated with natural physical strength and white athletes with intellectual capacities.
Since (white male) dominance in western societies are usually based on a hierarchy in which mental qualities are valued above physical qualities, this discourse primarily supports the privileged social position of many white men. This is not surprising since sports journalists, editors and owners of the media in general are white males. To maintain their dominant social group position they may (often subconsciously) use the sport media to convey their stereotypical images.
Edward Said uses orientalism to mean the way that people in Western cultures imagine and interpret the differences between themselves and people of Eastern cultures. They often see the Eastern culture as backward or not modern, which can lead to certain assumptions. He says that ‘I shall be calling Orientalism, a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is based on the Orient’s special place in European Western Experience.’ Critical race theory begins with the notion that racism is normal in society. It departs from mainstream legal scholarship by sometimes employing storytelling. It critiques liberalism and argues that Whites have been the primary beneficiaries of civil rights legislation.
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