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Super Bowl XXXVI and the New England Patriots: A Critical Discourse Analysis of White-Framed Narratives of Patriotism Post-9/11
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Across the dominant sport discourse in the U.S., it’s generally agreed upon that the victory of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI signified the unification of the nation after the tragic events of September 11, 2001 (Martin & Breitenfeldt, 2008; Miller, 2002; O’Brien, 2002; Shapiro, 2002). However, some scholars have suggested that more critical interpretations of the game point towards a propaganda display on behalf of the socio-political elite (Silk & Falcous, 2005). Yet, what has been left out of this critical interpretation is an analysis of the Super Bowl as a racialized, discursive space. Scholars in the field of sport management have demonstrated a need for more critical race-based research (Armstrong, 2011; Singer, 2005). The theoretical concept of the white racial frame (Feagin, 2006; Feagin, 2013) answers this call as the frame seeks to explain the rationalization of systemic racism as exhibited in the United States (U.S.). Harmonious with the purpose of the white racial frame, this thesis employs a critical discourse analysis method as the overarching discourse of Super Bowl XXXVI is deconstructed using the concept of white racial framing. Adding a racial component to the interpretation of Super Bowl XXXVI offers a more comprehensive understanding of the discourse as well as how this discourse evoked certain variations in the way American national identity was sensed post-9/11. The discourse analyzed includes the game’s broadcast, pre- and post-game ceremonies, the halftime performance, and amalgamated NFL Productions in reference to the 2001-02 NFL season and the Super Bowl. The findings discussed reveal a broadcast that was tacitly housed in the white racial frame so as to rationalize the events of 9/11 and provide appropriate reactions for Americans that were in line with the agenda of the political elite. With this, broader topics will be discussed with regard to the white racial frame and the dominant narratives surrounding the events of 9/11 as well as implications across the field of sport management.
Weems, Anthony Jean (2015). Super Bowl XXXVI and the New England Patriots: A Critical Discourse Analysis of White-Framed Narratives of Patriotism Post-9/11. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from