Millions of people around the world are passionate about sports. They are spectators, athletes, or businesspeople whose work engages with sports in some ways. They care deeply about stars and their favorite teams, and follow them passionately day in and day out. The stories and storylines of sport, rife with archetypes of heroism and villainy, attract audiences of a size and intensity that rivals any other cultural endeavor, both in the United States and abroad.
The research mission of Grady Sports Media is to explore how those stories are told, under what circumstances they are produced, and how they can affect their audiences. Current and recent projects
include examining changes in access agreements between sports organizations and media, the framing of athletes involved in cases of sexual assault, and the media impact of Paralympic athletes.
David Welch Suggs, Jr., the associate director of Grady Sports Media, leads the program’s research. A former reporter and editor for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dr. Suggs’s research agenda also includes the function of sport in the context of American higher education. He is the author of A Place on the Team: The Triumph and Tragedy of Title IX (Princeton University Press, 2005) and numerous journal articles and edited chapters. He is active in the International Association for Communication and Sport and the AEJMC Sports Communication Interest Group, which he served as an officer from 2013-15.
Dr. Suggs also teaches graduate courses in sport communication on occasion and collaborates with scholars at UGA, nationally, and internationally. We welcome inquiries about research projects. Students interested in pursuing doctoral work in communication and sports are invited to explore the Ph.D. program in the Grady College, where assistantships are available for accepted students. At this time, Grady Sports Media does not offer practitioner-focused graduate programs.
Sports reporters depend on access to events and sources as much or more than any other news professional. Over the past few years, some sports organizations have attempted to restrict such access, as well as what reporters can publish via social media. In the digital era, access and publishing autonomy, as institutionalized concepts, are evolving rapidly. Hypotheses tying access and work practices to reporters’ perceptions of the legitimacy they experience are developed and tested via a structural equation model, using responses to a survey of journalists in American intercollegiate athletics and observed dimensions of access and autonomy to measure a latent variable of legitimacy. The model suggests that reporters have mixed views about whether they possess the legitimacy they need to do their jobs.
Sports journalists have long enjoyed close—many would say too close—relationships with their sources. As suggested by a neoinstitutionalist, understanding of organizational relationships, routines, and professional expectations become accepted over time by journalists and sports organizations alike. However, new competition from online media, as well as new opportunities for teams to bypass the media, have threatened the legitimacy of journalists and their work practices. A survey of 437 reporters and communications personnel found key differences in the ways those in the professions perceived access, suggesting that traditional work patterns are evolving in ways that could delegitimate journalists inside and outside sports.
Contact Dr. Welch Suggs