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Jake Garretson
Professor Dagher
UWRT 1102
22 April 2015
Bias Reporting in Mainstream Sports Media
We have all watched the news, watched some sort of sporting event, or seen a
form of sports media. But not everyone notices that in the media there is a bias amongst
the journalist and that media group as a whole. People do not see behind the scenes and
do not understand that the news is being reported in a way supporting one side of the
story. Some people can see through the stories but in most cases in order to do so you
must have some sort of prior knowledge. I have been watching sports news for my entire
life and I have always noticed the biased reporting and the lopsided ideas conveyed in the
mainstream media. This is because of a long history of watching sports. I believe in the
case of sports media the bias is much easier to conceal and is much more likely to occur.
In todays media, referring to sports journalism, you can see the bias through unbalanced
reporting, a prejudice for teams/race/gender, and by a bias belief of a media group as a
Now you probably think that this is insignificant and that this in no way actually
affects society, but it does in many ways. The media is biased not just in cases of sports
journalism but in all journalism. It just so happens that a bias in sports media is much
easier to pick up on because of statistics and facts. For example there are statistics for
how well a player does throughout a season, points, assists, and rebounds. But when
referring to politics you cannot necessarily measure how well a politician does during his

term therefore a prejudice is harder to confirm. But if we can find a solution or find a way
to spot a prejudice reporter through sports media than we can ultimately use those same
methods for political and other news media.
The most common thought when it comes to media bias is referring to race or
gender or some sort of discriminatory method. I do not believe personally that this is an
example that occurs most often but it is by far the most talked about. Many people will
first think of racism as a form of bias, which is very common, but gender bias is also
another large factor. First I want to discuss a prejudice when referring to race. Jacco
Sterkenberg, Annelies Knoppers, and Sonja Leeuw discuss prejudices referring to Usain
Bolt as a male role model and as a black role model in which the prejudice seems to be
directed in the right direction. This however is not one of the negative forms of bias I
wanted to discuss. It is evident that many sports journalist have a prejudice for race but
the media that, projects sports events on live television follows the same trail.
Susan Eastman and Andrew Billings wrote that the commentators during
basketball games would show examples of racial stereotypes. They would typically refer
to African American players as more athletically talented and as someone born with their
ability; they would then refer to white players as hardworking and skilled players. Now
we know that this is not always true, African American players can be equally hard
working and white players can be equally as talented. But the problem may be deeper
than just the comments. Susan Eastman and Andrew Billings suggest that may the ideas
or thoughts could be in the subconscious and they may be unaware of the stereotypes
they have made.

The other form commonly thought of would be gender stereotypes, which
surprisingly do not seem to be as present in the media other than the lack of coverage on
women sports. Most of the comments on gender stereotypes can be summarized as
women being referred to as inferior to men. But I want to focus on the lack of coverage
on womens sports. In organizations such as the WNBA (Womens National Basketball
Association) or LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) for example, the amount
of coverage by the press is obviously inconsistent with the coverage of male sports.
The least talked about bias is probably the prejudice amongst sports reporters
when it comes to teams or certain players. Like I said when speaking about gender bias a
lot comes from lack of media coverage and this also applies to a prejudice of teams or
players. Some teams may receive more coverage than others and some teams may receive
coverage reflecting them in a better light than others. Michael Slater discusses media
selectivity and he states that the media will select what they report on and how they
report about a subject based largely on the interest of the public. I believe that this would
cause the media to report on subjects that they believe have the largest following and
maybe even stories involving the most drama. I think that this can cause the media to
report more on certain teams or players based on their following.
In turn this can cause the reporting to be slanted towards one team. This would
mean that one team or one player will receive all of the reporting and the viewers or the
audience will only receive news reporting on the same subjects. This can be seen when
watching sports news and seeing how the reports seem to trend around one topic or one
teams news.

That leads me into my next suggestion that unbalanced reporting is a major
problem in the sports media. Dave DAlessio and Mike Allen state that this can lead back
to media selectivity, the amount of coverage each party will see, and an all around bias of
the reporters. They call the amount of coverage each party will receive a coverage bias
and they call the favorability of one party as a statement bias. They discuss the bias in the
media when referring to the presidential election. The difference between the two would
be that a statement bias is outright and obvious by what a reporter says and a coverage
bias would be more hidden and based on amount of reporting around one subject. They
also state that a bias is of no importance or is not relevant if it does not have an influence.
This means that when some one makes a statement that reflects a biased opinion it has no
affect if the statement is not revolving around the current situation.
The media has been accused of a bias many times, most cases would be assuming
that the media has a coverage bias and a statement bias, both of which were discussed by
Dave DAlessio and Mike Allen. One example would be the case of Rush Limbaugh
accusing the media of reporting only in a positive way towards Donovan McNabb. In a
study conducted by David Niven these statements were proven to be untrue. But they can
be applied to other situations. Many people believe that the media has a bias towards
certain players or certain teams. This would in turn cause them to report mainly about
those teams and with a positive or negative attitude towards those teams.
I personally believe that the most evident and common case of biased sports
media would be the unbalanced reporting. Not all players, associations and teams get the
same amount of coverage or the same amount of positive news reports. We have to attack
this form of bias in order to stop the rest. When referring to race, gender, teams or any

other bias in sports media you can see how by just simply reporting more about one
subject than the other can cause a bias or by reporting positive news on one subject can
cause a prejudice. This is the source of most cases where prejudice is evident in all media
and can only be stopped by the reporters themselves. They must first understand that
there is a bias present in the media and then take action to report both sides of the story
and on all topics. This is a problem today and will remain until they take action.
Through my research I have begun to notice the subtle differences in the reporting
of competing news teams and a bias in many cases. This leads me to believe that it is a
much larger problem then expected and must be dealt with soon. The best ways to deal
with this problem is with an even amount of reporting on both sides of a subject and an
evenly distributed amount of reporting on different subject matter. This would help
balance the flow of information and provide an unbiased form of news media for the
public. Even with that said I still have questions pertaining to whether the public or the
viewers can help to end the bias in sports media. If so, what steps would we take and how
can we follow through in order to maintain balanced reporting in the media as a whole.


Works Cited
Slater, Michael D. "Reinforcing Spirals: The Mutual Influence of Media Selectivity and
Media Effects and Their Impact on Individual Behavior and Social

COMT Communication Theory 17.3 (2007): 281-303. Print.

Niven, David. "Race, Quarterbacks, and the Media." Journal of Black Studies 35.5
(2005): 684-94. Print.
Van, Sterkenburg Jacco, Annelies Knoppers, and Leeuw Sonja De. "Race, Ethnicity, and
Content Analysis of the Sports Media: A Critical Reflection." Media,
Culture and

Society 32.5 (2010): 819-39. Print.

Tyler, Eastman Susan, and Andrew Billings. "Biased Voices of Sports: Racial and
Gender Stereotyping in College Basketball Announcing." Howard Journal Of
Communications 12.4 (2001): 183-201. Web.
D'Alessio, D., and M. Allen. "Media Bias in Presidential Elections: A Meta-analysis."
JCOM Journal of Communication 50.4 (2000): 133-56. Print.

Peer Review
My peers provided me with feedback in order to help me to correct errors in my
paper and to help me enhance my paper. They gave me advice on how to make my
paragraphs flow together better, correct grammar, and answer questions any readers may
have. They helped me by allowing me to see what my paper looks like from another
persons view and how to change it in order to make it easier for readers to understand. I
used a lot of the feedback on making my paragraphs flow together because that was my
main problem. I also used the advice they gave on correcting grammatical errors. I also
used the advice to incorporate things that would answer any possible questions. I
attempted to use all of their advice.
I also gave feedback to my peers. I would read the entire paper then I would go
through and ask any questions, therefore they can make sure the readers can easily
understand their paper. I would also incorporate any kind of grammar errors into their
papers. The last way that I help them with their papers is by trying to add any examples
of different ways of thinking about an idea. For example if they were to include a
statement that I thought could be changed to better convey the idea then I would give an
example of what they could say instead.