Taking the star-spangled knee: the media framing of Colin Kaepernick

Doehler, Steph (2023). Taking the star-spangled knee: the media framing of Colin Kaepernick. Sport in Society, 26(1) pp. 45–66.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17430437.2021.1970138


Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, opted to kneel during the American National Anthem throughout the 2016 NFL season as a symbolic protest against racial injustice and police brutality throughout the United States. His actions provoked criticism when the media focused on Kaepernick’s alleged unpatriotic and anti-military stance. Using the concept of media framing, this paper analyses the newspaper coverage of Kaepernick’s protest. We identify four key frames which can be scrutinized and understood using the theoretical framework of the protest paradigm. In an innovative approach the research also analyses the coverage of Kaepernick in 2020, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a police officer, which sparked worldwide anti-racism protests. This paper builds on the understanding of media framing towards an individual’s protest and the consequences they face.

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