Does Ethnicity Decide Whether an Athlete is Intelligent or Athletic?
An examination of the language used to describe quarterbacks in online draft profiles
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.
Associated Press. 2022. “NFL Regular-Season Ratings Increase 10% over Last Season.” ESPN. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/33050695/nfl-regular-season-ratings-increase-10-percent-last-season.
Bhanpuri, Ali, Blair Tom, Filice Gennaro and Dan Parr. 2021. “NFL QB Index: Ranking all 62 starting QBs of the 2020 NFL Season.” NFL. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.nfl.com/news/qb-index-ranking-the-59-starting-quarterbacks-of-the-2020-nfl-season.
Bhanpuri, Ali, Blair Tom, Filice Gennaro and Dan Parr. 2020. “QB Index: Ranking every quarterback to start a game in 2019.” NFL. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.nfl.com/news/qb-index-ranking-every-quarterback-to-start-a-game-in-2019-0ap3000001101720.
Bloom, Sigmund. 2013. “EJ Manuel Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for Florida State QB.” Bleacher Report. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1598723-ej-manuel-scouting-report-nfl-outlook-for-florida-state-qb.
Braun, Virginia and Victoria Clarke. 2006. “Using thematic analysis in psychology.” Qualitative Research in Psychology, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 71-101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa.
Braun, Virginia, and Victoria Clarke. 2022. Thematic Analysis: A Practical Guide. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Brekhus, Wayne. 1998. “A Sociology of the Unmarked: Redirecting Our Focus.” American Sociology Association, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 34-51. https://www.jstor.org/stable/202213
Britannica, Editors of Encyclopaedia. 2022. "National Football League." Encyclopedia Britannica. Updated May 24, 2022. https://www.britannica.com/topic/National-Football-League.
Buffington, Daniel. 2005. “Contesting Race on Sundays: Making Meaning out of the Rise in the Number of Black Quarterbacks.” Sociology of Sport Journal, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 19–37. https://doi.org/10.1123/ssj.22.1.19.
Buffington, Daniel, and Todd Fraley. 2008. “Skill in Black and White.” Journal of Communication Inquiry, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 292–310. https://doi.org/10.1177/0196859908316330.
Campbell, Charlie. N.d. “2018 NFL Scouting Report: Lamar Jackson.” Walter Football. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://walterfootball.com/scoutingreport2018ljackson.php.
Carley, Kathleen. 1990. “Content Analysis.” In R.E. Asher (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. Edinburgh: Pergamon Press.
Carley, Kathleen. 1993. “Coding Choices for Textual Analysis: A Comparison of Content Analysis and Map.” Sociological Methodology, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 75-126. https://www.jstor.org/stable/271007.
Chinni, Dante. 2022. “Data show how bad the NFL’s racial equality problem is among coaches.” NBC News. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/data-shows-how-bad-nfl-s-racial-equality-problem-among-n1288709.
Dufur, Mikaela. 1997. “Race Logic And Being Like Mike: Representations Of Athletes In Advertising, 1985-1994.” Sociological Focus, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 345–56. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20831965.
Eastman, Susan Taylor and Andrew C. Billings. 2001. “Biased voices of Sports: Racial and Gender Stereotyping in College Basketball Announcing.” Howard Journal of Communication, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 183-201. https://doi.org/10.1080/106461701753287714.
Entine, Jon. 2000. Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We’re Afraid To Talk About It. New York: Public Affairs.
Ferruci, Patrick and Edson C. Tandoc. 2017. “Race and the Deep Ball: Applying Stereotypes to NFL Quarterbacks.” International Journal of Sports Communication, vol 10, pp. 41-57. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsc.2016-0074.
Flynn, Kerry. 2022. “NFL Draft: Everything you need to know.” CBS 58. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.cbs58.com/news/nfl-draft-everything-you-need-to-know.
Gabriel, Greg. 2014. “An Insider’s Guide into the NFL Scouting Process.” Bleacher Report. Accessed May 22, 2022. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1950498-an-insiders-guide-into-the-nfl-scouting-process.
Gough, Brendan, Anna Madill, Mark I. Appelbaum and Scott E. Maxwell. 2012. "Subjectivity in Psychological Science: From Problem to Prospect." Psychological Methods, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 374-384. https://doi-org.ez.statsbiblioteket.dk:12048/10.1037/a0029313.
Green, Jack. 2021. “NFL Explained: How the regular season and playoffs work.” Betway Insider. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://blog.betway.com/nfl/nfl-explained-how-the-regular-season-and-playoffs-work/.
Hartmann, Douglas. 2000. “Rethinking the Relationship Between Sport and Race in American Culture: Golden Ghettos and Contested Terrain.” Sociology of Sport Journal, vol 17, no. 3, pp. 229-253. https://doi.org/10.1123/ssj.17.3.229.
Holetzky, Sherry. 2022. “What is the NFL.” Sports N’ Hobbies. Revised Apr. 20, 2022. https://www.sportsnhobbies.org/what-is-the-nfl.htm.
Jenkins, Philip. 2017. A History of United States. 5th edition. London: Red Globe Press
Karp, Austin. 2022. “Sports’ TV dominance at new heights in 2021.” Sports Business Journal. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Journal/Issues/2022/01/10/
King, Nigel. 2004. “Using Templates in the Thematic Analysis of Text” in Essential Guide to Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research, edited by Catherine Cassell and Gillian Symon, pp. 256-270. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Kissel, BJ. 2013. “Defining Why Quarterback Is the Most Difficult Position to Play in Football.” Bleacher Report. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1659021-defining-why-quarterback-is-the-most-difficult-position-to-play-in-football.
Lippi-Green, Rosina. 2011. “Teaching children how to discriminate: what we learn from the Big Bad Wolf in English with an Accent: Language, Ideology and Discrimination in the United States, pp. 101-129. Florence: Taylor & Francis Group. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ez.statsbiblioteket.dk:12048/lib/asb/detail.action?docID=958316.
Mercurio, Eugenio and Vincent F. Filak. 2010. “Roughing the Passer: The Framing of Black and White Quarterbacks Prior to the NFL Draft.” The Howard Journal of Communications, vol 21, no. 1, pp. 56-71. https://doi.org/10.1080/10646170903501328
Miller, Matt. 2013. “How Do Scouts Break Down NFL Quarterback Prospects?” Bleacher Report. Accessed May 22, 2022. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1632018-how-do-scouts-break-down-nfl-quarterback-prospects.
Miller, Matt. 2018. “Lamar Jackson NFL Draft 2018: Scouting Report for Baltimore Ravens' Pick.” Bleacher Report. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2769198-lamar-jackson-nfl-draft-2018-scouting-report-for-baltimore-ravens-pick.
Pensado, Enlai. 2008. “NFL Analysis: Is QB The Most Important Position In All Of Sports?” Bleacher Report. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/55776-nfl-analysis-is-qb-the-most-important-position-in-all-of-sports.
Rabin, Matthew, and Joel L. Schrag. 1999. “First Impressions Matter: A Model of Confirmatory Bias.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 114, no. 1, pp. 37–82. http://www.jstor.org/
Rosenthal, Gregg. 2022. “NFL QB Index: Ranking all 62 starting QBs of the 2021 NFL Season.” NFL. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.nfl.com/news/nfl-qb-index-ranking-all-62-starting-qbs-of-the-2021-nfl-season.
Reid, Jason and Jane McManus. N.d. “The NFL’s racial divide.” Andscape. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://andscape.com/features/the-nfls-racial-divide/.
Sailes, Gary A. 1991. “The Myth of Black Sports Supremacy.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 480–87. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2784690.
Sailes, Gary A. 1993. “An Investigation of Campus Stereotypes: The Myth of Black Athletic Superiority and the Dumb Jock Stereotype.” Sociology of Sport Journal, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 88–97. EBSCOhost, doi: 10.1123/ssj.10.1.88.
Shmoop, Editorial Team. 2008. “Football Player: Odds of Getting In.” Shmoop. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.shmoop.com/careers/football-player/odds-of-getting-in.html.
Shuck, Barry. 2011. “How the Dallas Cowboys Became Known as ‘America’s Team.” Bleacher Report. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/894983-how-the-dallas-cowboys-became-known-as-americas-team.
Staff, Around the NFL. 2022. “Super Bowl LVI Total Viewing Audience Estimated at over 208 Million.” NFL. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.nfl.com/news/super-bowl-lvi-total-viewing-audience-estimated-at-over-208-million.
Streeter, Kurt. 2020. “Kneeling, Fiercely Debated in the N.F.L., Resonates in Protests.” The New York Times. Updated Aug. 3, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/05/sports/football/
Sue, Derald Wing, Christina M. Capodilupo, Gina C. Torino, Jennifer M. Bucceri, Aisha M. B. Holder, Kevin L. Nadal, and Marta Esquilin. 2007. "Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Implications for Clinical Practice." American Psychologist, vol. 62, no. 4, pp. 271-286. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.62.4.271.
Swanson, Ben. 2022. "The Making of The Magician: Marlin Briscoe's pioneering path in pro football.” Denver Broncos. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.denverbroncos.com/news/
Tonge, Andrew. 2008. “Which Sport Has The Best Athletes? Opinions Vary, But Football Leads The Way.” Bleacher Report. Accessed May 27, 2022. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/
Tice, Nate. 2021a. “Kellen Mond NFL Draft 2021: Scouting Report for Minnesota Vikings QB.” Bleacher Report. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2931902-kellen-mond-nfl-draft-2021-scouting-report-for-minnesota-vikings-qb.
Tice, Nate. 2021b. “Kyle Trask NFL Draft 2021: Scouting Report for Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB.” Bleacher Report. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2931905-kyle-trask-nfl-draft-2021-scouting-report-for-tampa-bay-buccaneers-qb.
Vasilogambros, Matt. 2016. “The Roots of NFL Draft Obsession.” The Atlantic. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/04/nfl-draft/480426/.
Walters, Bob. 2008. “Is Quarterback The Most Important Position?” Bleacher Report. Accessed May 21, 2022. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/55486-is-quarterback-the-most-important-position.
Welk, Brian. 2022. “Washington Commanders and 14 Other Sports Teams That Dumped Racist Names and Mascots.” The Wrap. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.thewrap.com/sports-teams-dumped-racist-names-mascots-indians-redskins/.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2022 Author and Journal of Language Works
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
The author/the authors hold the rigths to articles presented in the journal. The author/the authors are granted the right to reproduce their article as they see fit, if they mention LWorks as the original publisher of the article.