The FIFA World Cup in USA Today: 1990-2010
Since the nineteenth century, U.S. newspapers have contributing to the promotion of sports, and in the twentieth century, their sports-related news has emphasized the country’s big spectator sports such as baseball, football, and basketball (McChesney, 1989; Fort, 2000). In contrast, throughout the rest of the world, soccer and its FIFA World Cup tournament, which is held every four years, have captured much more attention than it has in the United States (USA Today, 2006). Schlesinger (1978) argued that news does not select itself, but is rather the product of judgments concerning the social relevance of given events and situations based on assumptions concerning their interest and importance. With this in mind, a study was designed in order to learn about how Americans regard soccer and the World Cup and whether their regard for them is undergoing a transition. More specifically, using quantitative content analysis and qualitative inductive thematic analysis, the thesis studied the amount and thematic nature of U.S.A. Today’s news and editorial coverage of the six FIFA World Cup tournaments held from 1990 to 2010. Research indicates that the newspaper published 1,079 articles during these tournaments. The peak of coverage was reached in 1994, when the U.S. hosted the event for the first time. The paper’s reportage and commentary pieces emphasized statistics, history, atmosphere, drama, political, social and international relation affairs. And finally, USA Today characterized the relationship between the FIFA World Cup and the United States as an event that is not for Americans, as the hope of U.S. soccer, as lacking a connection to U.S. television audiences, as a simple game that people from any economic group can enjoy, and as an event with importance not only in the domain of sports, but as one that inspires patriotism.
Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, The Elliott School of Communication.