Mass media framing of mental illness in elite sports – A case study from Australian football

Zehl, Roman; Mayer, Jochen; Thomas, Samantha; Thiel, Ansgar (24 May 2018). Mass media framing of mental illness in elite sports – A case study from Australian football. In: Sport, Discriminations and Inclusion: Challenges to Face. Bordeaux, France. May 23-26, 2018.

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Media reports on mental illness in elite sports are a relatively young phenomenon. Depictions of mental illness by the mass media tend to be stigmatizing and therefore negatively influence how those affected deal with the illness (including help seeking). It can be assumed that well-known elite athletes who experience a mental illness are particularly at risk of being framed negatively by the mass media. However, until now no studies have thoroughly examined this relation. Guided by framing theory, the current study investigates how mental illness in Australian Football League players is framed in Australian newspapers. A total of 95 articles were analyzed using the constant comparative method to identify media frames. Eleven media frames regarding mental illness in elite sports were identified and, employing a thematic networks approach, allocated into four thematic clusters: (1) “Romanticizing the coping with a mental illness”, (2) “Stigmatizing affected players”, (3) “Defending affected players”, and (4) “Acknowledging the value of players’ mental health”. In general, a tendency towards positive depictions of players with depression, anxiety, or gambling addiction was observed. In contrast, players with drug addiction appeared to be portrayed in a slightly more negative way. Conclusion Mass media framing of mental illness in elite sports is less stigmatizing than expected. We assume that a positive and sympathetic coverage will also affect the attitudes of both the general population and athletes towards mental illness in a positive way. Future studies are needed to analyze potential effects of media coverage on public belief systems in detail.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Abstract)

Division/Institute:

07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Science III

UniBE Contributor:

Zehl, Roman Alexander

Subjects:

700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment

Language:

English

Submitter:

Roman Alexander Zehl

Date Deposited:

17 May 2019 15:38

Last Modified:

04 Nov 2019 13:23

Additional Information:

15th European Association for Sociology of Sport Conference. EASS 2018 Abstract Book

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Mass media, Mental illness, Stigma, Elite sports, Australian football

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.129834

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/129834

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