COLLEGE PARK (9/11/19) — The University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism and ESPN’s The Undefeated are calling for research on race, sports and media for an all-day conference to be held at the university this coming spring.

The full call for papers appears below. Contact Merrill College Professor Linda Steiner with questions.


Please consider submitting research on race/sports/media for an all-day conference to be held at the University of Maryland-College Park, May 8, 2020. The conference is sponsored by ESPN’s The Undefeated and the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

We seek research on some key themes: black sports journalists; coverage of black athletes (including their involvement in off-field activities, such as politics or business) and others involved in professional and non-professional sports (managers, coaches, owners); and coverage of race and racial tensions in sports. We are particularly interested in research that addresses intersections with race/ethnicity, gender, and sexuality or that identifies potential solutions to problems. We define “media” broadly.

Among other topics, the following are relevant research areas:

*The impact of new technologies/new media. Is black Twitter reshaping narratives about black athletes and/or influencing sports culture? How has the relationship between black athletes and the media outlets that cover them changed in the digital era, as athletes have more direct access to sports fans through their own social platforms and independent media initiatives (Facebook shows, documentaries, etc.)?  Can or should athletes or sports journalists comment on racial politics, inside or outside sports? Has athletes’ sense of greater independence and influence created a different dynamic with beat reporters/producers who cover them fulltime?

*The status of blacks employed in media. How do black sports journalists view their position and what challenges do they face in getting and keeping specific jobs? What (or who) accounts for these problems? Are conditions/opportunities changing in the digital era? To what extent do these issues vary by platform (online, digital native, black/ethnic press, mainstream press, niche sports outlets)?

*Representation of black athletes. Are racialized tropes still used to describe athletes? How do these tropes link to larger patterns of representations and how do race and gender intersect? Do talk shows or podcast hosts/callers trade in code words or racist language? Do the visual optics of sports programming manifest racism? Has the proliferation of digital media changed how athletes are covered and viewed by the public? How are black athletes represented in popular culture, art and music?

Authors can submit extended abstracts (2-4 pages) that clearly highlight the main topic(s) or issues, explain the method and the data collected, and answer the “so what” question. For purposes of refereeing, please anonymize the abstract; and also submit a separate title page with all authors’ contact information, and indicating the corresponding author. Papers may be included in a potential publication. Please contact Dr. Linda Steiner with questions, at lsteiner@umd.edu, or 301-405-2426.

Submissions should be sent to raceandsports@umd.edu by January 30, 2020.

Authors will be emailed feedback and a decision by the end of February, 2020. Presenters are expected to attend and will be responsible for their own travel arrangements, but registration will be free.