Abstract

This study uses framing analysis to examine news-media coverage of the National Football League (NFL) and concussions in the popular online sports-media source ESPN.com. Based on league events both on and off the football field, the present study used a time frame of 2013 and 2014 to examine ESPN.com articles (N = 446) for prevalent and key themes in articles relating to concussions in the NFL. Framing analysis was used to better understand the ways in which ESPN.com writers packaged and presented information about player injuries, including concussions, to their readers. Results demonstrate that concussions were most commonly framed as an everyday football injury and mentioned in the same stories as broken bones and pulled muscles. Additionally, less frequently appearing frames included legal issues, harmful effects, and player risk acceptance. The ESPN.com writers used a variety of sources in their concussion-related articles but focused mostly on current players and coaches as opposed to medical professionals. The current state of the media’s role in the concussions debate, practical implications, and future scholarship on this topic are also discussed.

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