Divided and United: Perceptions of athlete activism at the ESPYs

Evan L Frederick, Ann Pegoraro, James Sanderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to examine the framing and re-framing of activism efforts enacted by LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony during the 2016 ESPYS through the theoretical lens of critical race theory. Specifically, comments made to three posts on ESPN’s Facebook page pertaining to these calls for activism were analyzed. Qualitative coding of 10,658 comments led to the discovery of four primary themes including (a) discussing race; (b) law enforcement<br>accountability; (c) realities of violence; and (d) debating crime.<br>While the athletes (i.e. the messengers) engaging in activism received attention via Facebook comments, users focused significant attention on the messages being disseminated. Ultimately, this social media discourse illuminated the complex nature of race relations in the United States today, highlighting the persistence of deeply ingrained cultural stereotypes and beliefs that are often left unshaken by athlete activism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1919-1936
JournalSport in Society
StatePublished - 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Divided and United: Perceptions of athlete activism at the ESPYs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this