A Contested Cultural Space: Color-Blind Rhetoric in Discussions of College Football

  • Michael C. Thornton (Contributor)
  • Sean Moxley-Kelly (Contributor)
  • Catasha R. Davis (Contributor)



Over the past several years, color-blind rhetoric has permeated public discourse around the subject of race in U.S. society. In this color-blind world, race is either a thing of the past or something we can choose to ignore. One location of such rhetoric is in sports. This mixed-methods study offers a rare examination of color-blind rhetoric among 365 college students at a Division I school that is a part of one of the power conferences. We administered a 20-question multiple-choice and open-ended survey accessing students’ views about race in college football and its athletes. Our open-coded responses were consistent with Bonilla-Silva’s color-blind racism frames. The frames students use are consistent with previous work that suggests that they envision a world in which overt attention to race is secondary to traditional aspects of American life, such as work ethic, meritocracy, individualism, and cultural differences. This color-blind emphasis works to encourage students to take to heart that race does not warrant inclusion in explaining college sports.
Date made availableAug 1 2018
Publisherfigshare SAGE Publications

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