“I Don’t Think It’s Worth the Risk”: Media Framing of the Chris Borland Retirement in Digital and Print Media

David Cassilo, Jimmy Sanderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Football player safety, specifically concussions, has been a growing area of debate in U.S. mainstream media. Whereas many of these discussions are centered on the health effects experienced by former players, active National Football League (NFL) players often discursively minimize concussions. However, in March 2015, 24-year-old, San Francisco 49ers player Chris Borland voluntarily retired, specifically citing concerns about the health risks associated with concussions sustained while playing football. A textual analysis of 112 digital media and 187 print media articles revealed 10 frames that were used to discuss Borland’s decision. Analysis revealed that the most prominent frame used in media outlets was centered on the health risks and consequences of playing football, while other frames discussed parental choice and social mobility associated with football. The results suggest that decisions by NFL players with respect to concussions can be framed in the context of larger social and cultural issues. As this occurs, conversations around safety, masculinity, and football move beyond the microlevel of participation, capturing macrolevel elements, such as parental consent, socioeconomic status, and health prioritization that factor into football participation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-110
Number of pages25
JournalCommunication and Sport
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018



  • Chris Borland
  • concussions
  • football
  • media framing
  • sport and health

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