Date of Award

Winter 12-8-2022

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

School

Communication

Committee Chair

Dr. Lindsey Maxwell

Committee Chair School

Communication

Committee Member 2

Dr. John Meyer

Committee Member 2 School

Communication

Committee Member 3

Dr. Laura Stengrim

Committee Member 3 School

Communication

Abstract

Simone Biles was considered the GOAT, Greatest of All Time, going into the 2020 Olympic Games. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Larry Nassar trial, and the weight of the world on her shoulders, Biles would withdraw from the women’s gymnastics team final competition for mental health reasons. Thus, the following study examines how Biles was framed in the ten most circulated newspapers in the United States before, during, and after the 2020 Olympic Games. Results show that an author’s race and gender, topic of the article, type of article, and if an article contained an image or not ultimately influenced how Biles was framed during this time period. However, the most dramatic finding in this study is that Biles’ decision to withdraw from the 2020 Olympic Games brought the topic of mental health to the forefront of sports reporting as only five articles mentioned mental health before Biles’ withdrawal from the Olympic Games, but 241 articles mentioned mental health after her decision to withdraw from the Olympic Games. Biles would have to find the perfect balance of being a Black, female athlete while taking a stand for mental health on the world’s biggest stage.

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