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Running header: Freedom of Speech vs Athletes Page 1 Freedom of Speech vs Athletes: An Analysis of Modern Medias’ Portrayal of Professional Athletes Jason Micalizzi University of Connecticut Freedom of Speech vs Athletes: An Analysis of Modern Medias’ Portrayal of Professional Athletes
Freedom of Speech vs Athletes 2 Being a professional athlete has its pros and cons, on one hand you are living your dream playing the sport you love, yet every move you make is closely examined by the media. News stations are constantly in control about what we watch and how we think things through. Colin Kaepernick, once a promising young quarterback, lost his livelihood just because he was voicing his opinion. Whereas, Tim Tebow expressed his religious beliefs and took advantage of his platform, resulting in him being praised as a role model. Professional athletes should be able to change lives through their platform they have been given. In modern day media, stories get twisted and turned into many directions just so the network can follow their agenda. This paper will analyze how different events in real life were portrayed by the media from the examples of, Colin Kaepernick, the NBA black lives matter movement, and players declining to go to the White House. Using Voice for Others The “Star Spangled Banner” is one of the most sacred moments before a sporting event. There are many norms that are followed such as standing up, taking your cap off, or putting your hand over your heart. On September 1, 2016, Colin Kaepernick did the unthinkable and kneeled during the national anthem, which led to one of the most controversial sporting debates we have ever seen. Other players joined in on the protest and just about everyone had an opinion on the subject, especially news networks. Many Republican news networks took this as a sign of disrespect for the flag and the men as well as women who fight to protect our country. Trump was quoted on Hannity saying, “I will tell you, you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem, you cannot do that” (Fox News, 2017). Meanwhile, Democratic news networks saw this for what it actually was and the issues that it spoke upon. In an article posted by CNN, Kaepernick said, “The media painted this as I’m anti-American. I’m anti-men and women in the
Freedom of Speech vs Athletes 3 military. That’s not the case at all” (Martin, Park, & Vercammen, 2016). What started out as a straightforward protest, was dissected into something it wasn’t, just so these network agendas could be followed. According to Mass Media and American Politics, “Media stories indicate what different groups deem important or unimportant, what conforms to prevailing standards of justice and morality, and how events are related to each other” (Graber & Dunaway, Pg. 3).

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