Sport, Rhetoric, and Political Struggle

by Daniel Grano (Volume editor) Michael Butterworth (Volume editor)
©2019 Textbook XIV, 230 Pages


Sport, Rhetoric, and Political Struggle addresses a needed next step for advancing sport as a site of inquiry in rhetorical studies. The book claims that sport is central to contemporary antagonisms over, for example, gender and sexual binarism, queer visibilities, race and labor relations, public health, domestic violence, global institutional corruption, and posthuman body politics. The authors' attention to such antagonisms entails a dual focus: they argue (1) that sport does not function in isolation and that, moreover, relations of power take particular shape within, through, and around sport; and (2) that rhetorical studies of sport are not merely "about sport," but instead are integral to larger theoretical and ethical concerns that animate the discipline. The essays collected in this book contextualize sport and political struggle, examine the mobilization of resistance in sporting contexts, identify ongoing stigmas that present limitations in and around sport, and attend to prevailing ideological features that provoke questions for future research. In short, the authors demonstrate how and why sport is not only important, but how it is productive, how it offers understandings of practices or social formations or economies that scholars cannot get in quite the same way elsewhere.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Contributors
  • Rhetoric, Sport, and the Political: An Introduction (Daniel A. Grano / Michael L. Butterworth)
  • Section I: Contextualizing Sport and Political Struggle
  • Chapter One: Curt Flood, Confrontational Rhetoric, and the Radical’s Constellation (Abraham I. Khan)
  • Chapter Two: “Change Starts with Us”: Intersectionality and Citizenship in the 2016 WNBA (Katherine L. Lavelle)
  • Chapter Three: The New Rhetorical Space for Political Activism (Karen L. Hartman)
  • Section II: Mobilizing Resistances
  • Chapter Four: Diving into the Past: Greg Louganis, Queer Memory, and the Politics of HIV Management (Jeffrey A. Bennett)
  • Chapter Five: Touching Ali: Rhetorical Intimacy and Black Masculinity (Lisa M. Corrigan)
  • Chapter Six: Spirits in the Material World: The Rhetoric of the Iroquois Nationals (Mike Milford)
  • Chapter Seven: (Re)Articulations of Race, Sexuality, and Gender in U.S. Football: Investigating Tyrann Mathieu as Honey Badger (Daniel C. Brouwer / Katrina N. Hanna)
  • Chapter Eight: Richard Sherman’s Rhetorical Witnessing (Anna M. Young)
  • Section III: Confronting Stigmas
  • Chapter Nine: Ableism and Paralympic Politics: Media Stereotypes and the Rhetoric of Disability Sport (James L. Cherney / Kurt Lindemann)
  • Chapter Ten: Athletes and Assemblage: Political Struggle at the ESPYs (Meredith M. Bagley)
  • Chapter Eleven: “I’d Just Like to Let Everybody Know”: Pete Harnisch on the Disabled List and the Politics of Mental Health (Raymond I. Schuck)
  • Chapter Twelve: When Sport Facilitates Saying the Unsayable at the Boundaries of Race and Sexuality: Jason Collins and Michael Sam (Barry Brummett)
  • Section IV: Future Provocations
  • Chapter Thirteen: “My Whole Life Is about Winning”: The Trump Brand and the Political/Commercial Uses of Sport (Thomas P. Oates / Kyle W. Kusz)
  • Index
  • Series Index

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We are grateful to Mary Stuckey and Mitchell McKinney, the editors of the Frontiers in Political Communication series, for supporting this work and for creating a space for the expansion of studies in rhetoric and sport. We also appreciate the time, effort, and talent of each author who contributed to this volume. Our goal was to bring together scholars who have focused their programs of study on sport, and scholars who are leaders in areas of thought that relate centrally to sporting contexts, in order to offer the broadest sense of what a study of rhetoric and sport might include. We believe we have succeeded thanks to each author’s insightful work.

The timing for this volume is fortunate, both because of current events that make plain the connections between politics and sport and because of the steady growth we have seen in the emergent field of communication and sport. It is no longer unusual for sport to be featured in communication scholarship—including within the more narrow confines of rhetorical studies—and our major disciplinary organizations now embrace the kind of work found in this volume. This was not always the case, and we offer our sincere gratitude to the scholars of this and previous generations who have legitimized the critical study of sport. Their work has made this book possible.

Dan continues to benefit from the mentoring of Ken Zagacki and Andy King. He is also grateful for the encouragement of colleagues from the Department of ← vii | viii → Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, including Margaret Quinlan, Ashli Stokes, Jon Crane, Jason Black, Cris Davis, Min Jiang, and Richard Leeman.

For Mike, work on this book overlapped with a move and a transition to a new job. He is grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the School of Communication Studies and the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University. Midway through the project, he left small town life in Appalachia for the big city life in Texas. He is consistently impressed by the quality of the work and the commitment of the people at the University of Texas at Austin, and he thanks all of his colleagues in the Moody College of Communication and the Department of Communication Studies.

Finally, we are thankful for our loving families, especially for the unconditional support of our partners and our children.

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Meredith M. Bagley (Ph.D., Communication Studies, University of Texas-Austin) is an associate professor of communication studies at The University of Alabama. Her research interests center on the rhetoric of protest in sport, particularly intersections of gender, race and sexuality. She is a contributor to the upcoming volume Uniformly discussed: Sportswomen’s apparel in the United States. A former two-sport college athlete, for the past two decades Meredith has coached and played rugby.

Jeffrey A. Bennett is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Managing Diabetes: The Cultural Politics of Disease (NYU Press) and Banning Queer Blood: Rhetorics of Citizenship, Contagion, and Resistance (University of Alabama Press). Jeff’s work has also appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Critical Studies in Media Communication, and Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, among others.

Daniel C. Brouwer is an Associate Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. His research foci include social movements, publics and counterpublics, cultural performance, genders and sexualities, and HIV and AIDS. Co-editor of the book projects Counterpublics and the State (2001) and Public Modalities: Rhetoric, Culture, Media, and the Shape of ← ix | x → Public Life (2010), his work has also appeared in Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, and Critical Studies in Media Communication.

Barry Brummett (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1978) is the Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at The University of Texas at Austin and Charles Sapp Centennial Professor in Communication. Brummett’s research interests turned early to the theories of Kenneth Burke and to epistemology and rhetoric. In those studies Brummett laid the foundation for a research program that investigates the functions and manifestations of new rhetoric. Brummett’s most recent, ongoing interests are in the rhetoric of popular culture. He has developed a general theoretical basis for understanding this rhetoric based largely on symbolic forms. Brummett has published a textbook, Techniques of Close Reading, which is entering its second edition, and a fifth edition of his popular textbook, Rhetoric in Popular Culture. Brummett is the author of the scholarly book monographs A Rhetoric of Style, Rhetorical Dimensions of Popular Culture, Contemporary Apocalyptic Rhetoric, Rhetoric of Machine Aesthetics, The World and How We Describe It, and Rhetorical Homologies. He has edited Landmark Essays: Kenneth Burke, Uncovering Hidden Rhetorics, Sporting Rhetorics, Reading Rhetorical Theory, Sports and Identity, The Politics of Style and the Style of Politics, and The Rhetoric of Steampunk. He is working on a variety of studies exploring the rhetoric of form in popular culture and rhetoric. Brummett is the author or coauthor of numerous scholarly essays and chapters.

Michael L. Butterworth is a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Director of the Center for Sports Communication & Media in the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin. His research explores the connections between rhetoric, democracy, and sport, with particular interests in national identity, militarism, and public memory. He is the author of Baseball and Rhetorics of Purity: The National Pastime and American Identity during the War on Terror, co-author of Communication and Sport: Surveying the Field, and editor of Sport and Militarism: Contemporary Global Perspectives. Butterworth’s essays have appeared in journals such as Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Communication & Sport, Communication, Culture & Critique, Critical Studies in Media Communication, the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, the Journal of Communication, the Journal of Sport & Social Issues, and the Quarterly Journal of Speech.

James L. Cherney (Ph.D., Indiana University) is an independent scholar living in Saline, Michigan. He has held Instructor and Assistant Professorships at Indiana University, Westminster College, Miami University, and Wayne State University. His work has appeared in such journals as the Quarterly Journal of Speech, ← x | xi → Argumentation and Advocacy, and the Disability Studies Quarterly. He frequently collaborates with Kurt Lindemann, and their work has appeared in several books and as lead articles in Communication & Sport and Western Journal of Communication. Among other projects, they are currently working on a book analyzing coverage of the 2018 Winter Paralympics.

Lisa M. Corrigan (Ph.D. University of Maryland) is an Associate Professor of Communication, Director of the Gender Studies Program, and Affiliate Faculty in both African & African American Studies and Latin American Studies at the University of Arkansas. Her first book, Prison Power: How Prison Politics Influenced the Movement for Black Liberation (University Press of Mississippi, 2016), is the recipient of the 2017 Diamond Anniversary Book Award and the 2017 African American Communication and Culture Division Outstanding Book Award both from the National Communication Association.

Daniel A. Grano (Ph.D. Louisiana State University) is a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His research focuses on sport and politics, including issues surrounding race, labor, religion, and health. He has published in top peer-reviewed journals in communication studies, including The Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and Critical Studies in Media Communication. His recent book The Eternal Present of Sport: Rethinking Religion and Sport (Temple University Press, 2017) won the National Communication Association Communication and Sport Division Outstanding Book Award.

Katrina N. Hanna is a doctoral student in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University (Kansas State University, M.A.). Her key area of research focuses on rhetorics of school choice within K-12 public education. Such work is informed by the intersection of critical race theory and rhetorical criticism.

Karen L. Hartman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, Media, & Persuasion at Idaho State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Rhetoric from Louisiana State University and her research interests revolve largely around the role of sport in the United States and how language and public relations efforts frame athletes, organizations, and laws. She has authored numerous articles including research published in the Journal of Communication Studies, International Journal of Sport Communication, Academic Exchange Quarterly, and the edited volume The ESPN Effect: Academic Studies of the Worldwide Leader in Sports. ← xi | xii →

Abraham I. Khan holds a joint appointment as an Assistant Professor in Communication Arts and Sciences and African American Studies at Penn State University. He is a rhetorical scholar who specializes in research on civic engagement and African American politics and social life, with a particular emphasis on black athletes and the history of sports in the United States. His book, Curt Flood in the Media: Baseball, Race, and the Demise of the Activist Athlete, examines the competing models of public address at work in black political culture in the late 1960s and 1970s. Similar themes animate his work on figures such as Jackie Robinson, Michael Sam, and Richard Sherman, in essays that appear in journals such as Communication & Sport and Popular Communication.

Kyle W. Kusz is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies of Sports Media at the University of Rhode Island. His work investigates how sport media, films, celebrities, and cultures operate as political terrains that play key roles in contemporary debates about race, gender, and nationalism. He is the author of Revolt of the White Athlete: Race, Media and the Emergence of Extreme Athletes in America (Peter Lang, 2007).

Katherine L. Lavelle is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where she teaches courses in Advocacy, Public Communication, and Communication and Sport. Her previous research has explored representations of race, nationality, sex/gender, and other identity issues in sport. She has published work in a variety of communication and sport anthologies, and journals including Communication & Sport, and The Journal of Sports Media. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for IACS (International Association for Communication and Sport).

Kurt Lindemann (Ph.D., Arizona State University) is a Professor in the School of Communication at San Diego State University, where he is Director of Graduate Studies. He currently serves as Director of The Center for the Study of Media and Performance at SDSU. His research on disability, sport, and identity has appeared in a variety of scholarly outlets, including Qualitative Inquiry, Text and Performance Quarterly, Western Journal of Communication, and Communication and Sport.

Mike Milford (Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2005) is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Journalism at Auburn University. His research explores the ways in which popular culture, sports, and politics share ideological messages, with particular interests in collective identity, wartime public address, and national myths. Dr. Milford’s research has appeared in journals such as Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Mass Communication and Society, Rhetorica, Sport in History, Western Journal of Communication, Southern Communication Journal, Communication ← xii | xiii → Quarterly, Communication Studies, Journal of Sports Media, Sport in Society, and the International Journal of Sport Communication.

Thomas P. Oates is an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where he holds a joint appointment in the Department of American Studies and the School of Journalism & Mass Communication. He is the author of Football and Manliness: An Unauthorized Feminist Account of the NFL.

Raymond I. Schuck is an Associate Professor of Communication in the Department of Humanities at Bowling Green State University Firelands. His research focuses on rhetorical and critical analysis of popular culture with particular emphasis on sport.

Anna M. “Amy” Young is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication at Pacific Lutheran University. Her work centers on questions of expertise and public and political life including her book, Prophets, Gurus & Pundits: Rhetorical Styles & Public Engagement (SIU Press, 2014). Most recently she’s interested in food and wine politics, and is pursuing a second book manuscript on conservative rhetorical style. She is a lifelong athlete—a former competitive gymnast, dancer, skier, and runner, she’s invested in the ways athletes can use their expertise to make political change. ← xiii | xiv →

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Rhetoric, Sport, and the Political

An Introduction


XIV, 230
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (April)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XIV, 230 pp.

Biographical notes

Daniel Grano (Volume editor) Michael Butterworth (Volume editor)

Daniel A. Grano (Ph.D., Louisiana State University) is Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is the author of The Eternal Present of Sport. Michael L. Butterworth (Ph.D., Indiana University) is Director of the Center for Sports Communication & Media and Professor in the Department of Communication Studies in the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Baseball and Rhetorics of Purity, co-author of Communication and Sport, and editor of Sport and Militarism.


Title: Sport, Rhetoric, and Political Struggle
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