Texas Program in Sports and Media Awards Fellowships to Analyze Intersection of Sports and Media

The Texas Program in Sports and Media at The University of Texas at Austin has awarded five faculty fellowships, totaling $25,000, to College of Communication research teams investigating a range of issues related to the cultural intersection of sports and media.

Over the summer faculty and graduate students from the departments of Advertising, Communication Studies, Radio-TV-Film and the School of Journalism will examine topics ranging from how the time demands of professional football careers affect player development, to how professional sports organizations deal with citizen journalists, to the impact of gender of photojournalists covering professional sports.

As social media platforms such as Twitter continue to gain credibility and functionality as digital reporting tools, inviting both trained and untrained journalists to the news creation process, sports organizations continue to struggle with appropriate means of accommodation. Frank A. Bennack Jr. Chair in Journalism Tracy Dahlby, doctoral candidate Avery Holton and master's candidate Mark Coddington in the School of Journalism will use the $5,500 grant to conduct an ethnographic exploration of Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians. The team is the first professional sports organization to open up a section of seating exclusively for social media engagement and offer full access to untrained social media journalists this season.

As a result of re-using videotape and disposing of obsolete recording formats, media producers across the United States have lost significant portions of their sports programming libraries due to short-term decisions in a pre-cable and Internet era in which older media simply appeared a financial liability. Assistant Professor Caroline Frick in the Department of Radio-TV-Film will use a $5,000 grant to interview individuals and organizations in Dallas and El Paso about the value of football-related archival products, to collect media from those areas and digitize pertinent material for future analysis.

In light of the recent sexual harassment controversies surrounding the New York Jets and sports reporter Inez Sainz and sports columnist Tara Sullivan being barred from the Masters golf tournament locker room, Associate Professor Renita Coleman and doctoral candidate Carolyn Yaschur in the School of Journalism will use their $5,000 grant to study the way photojournalists, male and female, interact with and visually represent athletes and coaches.

Associate Professor Dawna Ballard in the Department of Communication Studies will use a $4,000 grant to examine how the time demands of professional football careers affect player development in ways that have gone unaddressed and the role of media coverage in shaping aspiring player expectations about the profession.

Assistant Professors Vincent Cicchirillo and Lucinda Atkinson in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations will use their $5,500 grant to examine how parents mediate sports content on television and whether it has an impact on children's levels of sportsmanship and their views and reactions to winning, losing and competitive situations.

Descriptions of all five 2011 Faculty Fellowships are available online.

The College of Communication established the Texas Program in Sports and Media in 2009 to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and research on sports, media and culture. It unites two programming initiatives -- the Richard W. Pound Olympic Archive Collection and the McGarr Symposium on Journalism and Society -- and two curriculum initiatives -- the Sports Publicity Project and the sports journalism curriculum. It also is a resource center for faculty conducting applied and theoretical research related to sports, media and society.