This post was written by a student in Susan Schuyler’s Narrative, Rhetoric, and Identity class at Stanford University. Each student in this class will complete a research-based argument related to the course topic.
For my research-based argument, I am going to explore media’s creations of sports celebrities, the identity of these creations, and the response of the public. I’m planning to start out with some general background information about the appeal of sports in our society and then proceed to give some examples of sports celebrities over time as I tie that into changes that have occurred in the media and sport culture. Then I will focus on the media’s role in creating these sports stars and touch on how these athletes differ from other celebrities. As an example, I will use an analysis of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games to show how the media molds athletes’ identities. I will then proceed to discuss the spectators’ reactions regarding sports celebrities along with their expectations of them. For example, one study found that viewers do understand that the media constructs commercial and unrealistic sports celebrities and also that they can (and do) separate their expectations of sports stars’ on-field and off-field behavior. This same source also argues that spectators hold unrealistic expectations of athletes, which I will continue to explore.
I’m unsure if I’m going to include information about celebrity culture in general, and I am still searching for more information about how the media tells these narratives about athletes and how they portray an identity that is not completely true. Up to this point, I have not really found conflicting opinions, so I’m still searching for an argument as a part of our next step of the paper. Also, as a part of my next step, I’m considering either tracking stories about celebrity athletes (and applying information that I’ve learned) or analyzing a major celebrity in sports (such as the Dallas Cowboys who had their own reality television show). Right now I realize that I am covering a wide range of topics, so I am aware of this and will continue to try to narrow down my focus and reach a central argument or issue.
Kylie Rosenstock (Stanford University)