God and Sport: Orientalism in Sports Illustrated Coverage of Religion

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Journalism Studies, Orientalism, Religion, Sports Communication, Sports Illustrated, Textual Analysis

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This study utilizes textual analysis to analyse how the popular and influential sports magazine Sports Illustrated covered religion over the period from 1 January 1994, to 1 September 2014. The data showed that the magazine wrote about religion in three primary ways: as an exotic characteristic that makes an athlete somehow odd, as incongruous since sports themselves display similar characteristics to religion, and as a front to hide some insidious real motive. These results are analysed through the lens of Edward Said’s theory of orientalism, which argues that the press tends to cover dominant groups as ‘normal’ and ‘others’ the remaining groups, which has been shown, historically, to have damaging impact. This study concludes with a discussion concerning how SI’s coverage of religion could impact society

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Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies, v. 7, issue 2, p. 371-386