Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Mass Communications

First Advisor

Polumbaum, Judy


This dissertation takes a feminist approach to gender and race construction in the National Football League (NFL) draft (an annual meeting where teams select contract rights to the best amateur players), which has recently spawned a proliferation of media coverage. The analysis considers the political/economic conditions and the journalistic practices that have helped shape the mediated NFL draft, together with a critical analysis of the draft texts produced by, and related to, ESPN between 2000 and 2002. The texts considered include ESPN's televised coverage of the draft, the content contained on's special NFL draft section and ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, Jr.'s annual subscription draft guide.

I read the draft as an attempt to position discursively the (mostly black) draft prospects as commodities. The draft represents an emerging strategy that positions audiences as "virtual owners" of athletes. This formulation has emerged alongside widespread beliefs about Black athletic dominance and anxieties over the "disappearance" of white athletes.

In this dissertation, I analyze several dimensions of this discourse, including the commodification of prospects, the creation of docile bodies, and its erotic undercurrents.


race, gender, football, ESPN, critical/cultural, sports


1, v, 161 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 149-161).


Copyright 2004 Thomas Patrick Oates