How Chinese New Media Construct Elite Female Athletes

Qingru Xu  (Grady MA Student) and Peggy J. Kreshel, “How Chinese New Media Construct Elite Female Athletes: Gender, Nationalism, and Individualism,” accepted for presentation at the 2017 International Communication Association (ICA) conference in San Diego.

Abstract:  Sport around the world is principally organized around masculinity, and women athletes are often afforded limited coverage in sports media. In this study, I examined media representations of two Chinese female athletes of different status in China, a nation in the midst of a social transformation and a sports-reform initiative: state athlete, Ding Ning, and professional athlete, Li Na. Analyzing stories drawn from two Chinese web portals—Sina and Tencent, I focused particularly on how gender, nationalism, and collectivism-individualism entered into media representations of these two female athletes to determine if there were differences in portrayals. The portraits that emerged were very distinctive; notable differences in each of the three conceptual areas were found. A fourth theme, which I have identified as the “commercialized athlete” also emerged. Possible explanations and implications are provided in terms of the distinctive media portrayals of the two athletes at this particular historical moment in Chinese society.

Peggy Kreshel 

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