Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Mass Communication and Media Arts
This dissertation examines ESPN's SportsCenter's coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament bubble. The dissertation examines the differences in coverage between average teams from the six major NCAA Division I men's basketball conferences and teams from the other 25 conferences. The dissertation examines SportsCenter's coverage from an effects method, questioning whether SportsCenter sets the agenda for other news media in terms of national sports coverage, in this case coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament bubble. The dissertation also takes an effects method in terms of framing, examining the narratives SportsCenter uses to describe tournament teams and the attributes that SportsCenter chooses to use depending on the conference affiliation of the team. Finally, the dissertation examines SportsCenter's coverage in terms of political economy, concentrating on ESPN's financial ties to the six major conferences and the importance of maintaining a status quo in terms of promoting the superiority of teams from the six conferences compared to teams from the other conferences. Combining the three approaches provides evidence that SportsCenter does tilt its coverage in favor of teams from the six major conferences in order to promote its financial priorities. SportsCenter works to emphasize a perception of superiority among average teams from the six major conferences in order to ensure that its top teams are easily and often exposed to ESPN's coverage and to maintain consistent ratings.
This dissertation is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.