Does Ethnicity Decide Whether an Athlete is Intelligent or Athletic?

An examination of the language used to describe quarterbacks in online draft profiles


  • Elias Ansgar Lykke Lund Aarhus University
  • Peter Katballe-Kristensen Aarhus University


This paper explores how draft profiles made by sports outlets describe and talk about athletes. More specifically it seeks to examine if ethnicity plays a role in the words and phrases used to describe the abilities of American football quarterbacks’ abilities. This paper investigates the research question: Does ethnicity play a role in what words and phrases are used to describe   quarterbacks in their draft profiles and could these descriptions be a case of linguistic discrimination? The question is answered through an examination of draft profiles from two sports outlets. Through a combination of conceptual and thematic analysis, 132 draft profiles of 66 quarterbacks were examined for words or phrases that described the player. These words or phrases were then coded which gave us 13 specific concepts that we divided into three different concept categories: 1. intelligence, 2. athleticism and 3. personality. Through these specific concepts we found that white quarterbacks on average received 1.68 positive specific concepts relating to intelligence, 0.34 relating to athleticism and 1.34 for personality compared to African American quarterbacks who received 0.95 for intelligence, 1.77 for athleticism and 0.95 for personality. Therefore, we find that the ethnicity of a quarterback plays a significant role in relation to what words or phrases are used to describe their abilities. Specifically white quarterbacks are more likely to be described as intelligent while their African American counterparts are more likely to be described as superior athletes.

Author Biographies

Elias Ansgar Lykke Lund, Aarhus University

Elias Lund er bachelorstuderende i engelsk og nordisk sprog og litteratur på Aarhus Universitet. Hans interessefelt er især indenfor litteraturstudier og lingvistik med et henblik på undervisningsformilding.

Peter Katballe-Kristensen, Aarhus University

Peter Katballe-Kristensen er bachelorstuderende i engelsk på Aarhus Universitet. Hans interessefelt er især indenfor lingvistikken, de sproglige byggesten og alle de muligheder og udfordringer som sprog giver os.


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How to Cite

Lund, E. A. L., & Katballe-Kristensen, P. (2022). Does Ethnicity Decide Whether an Athlete is Intelligent or Athletic? An examination of the language used to describe quarterbacks in online draft profiles. Journal of Language Works - Sprogvidenskabeligt Studentertidsskrift, 7(2), 5–22. Retrieved from