Desmarais, F. & Bruce, T. (2010). The power of stereotypes: Anchoring images through language in live sports broadcasts. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 29(3), 338-362.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4246
Televised sport offers a rich context for investigating the processes that influence particular uses of language. Here, the authors consider how pressure on sport commentators to connect with audiences results in reliance on preestablished narratives that draw heavily on stereotypes. They investigate how television sport commentators negotiate tensions between stereotypes of a particular country’s playing style and on-field action that challenges those stereotypes. Their interdisciplinary approach—drawing from social psychology, communication, media studies, sport studies, and cultural studies—provides a textual analysis of New Zealand commentary in a pivotal Rugby World Cup game between France and New Zealand. The authors identify three different ways in which national stereotypes lead commentators to produce interpretations that do not always accurately represent the action on the field. They conclude that sport commentary in an international context operates to create and reinscribe symbolic differences between nations, even in the face of visual evidence that is ambiguous or actively contradicts the words used to describe it. The analysis demonstrates how powerfully national stereotypes influence commentators’ representational choices.