Study: Ballplayers use different tactics to repair images

Sep 26, 2008

As steroid-use scandals have threatened the reputations of Major League Baseball’s most prominent players during the past several years, those players have used a variety of strategies to repair their images, a new study finds.

Research by a Penn State College of Communications faculty member, published in the current issue of the Journal of Sports Media, found players such as Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and Jason Giambi denied drug-use allegations but reacted differently when faced with evidence to the contrary. The strategies did not alter the negative tone of newspaper coverage toward them.

"Although the players used a variety of tactics — such as trying to explain themselves or divert attention to their records — journalists were still very skeptical," said Michel Haigh, an assistant professor in the college who analyzed coverage between 2003 and 2006. "All players were presented as untrustworthy in newspaper accounts."

Barry Bonds, who frequently denied using steroids, blamed his trainer, Greg Anderson, and discussed his record-setting career after the leaked grand jury testimonies of Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and Kimberly Bell, his ex-girlfriend, stated he took steroids.

Giambi tried to bolster his image by discussing his accomplishments. He denied using steroids, but after his BALCO grand jury testimony appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, he said he took the drugs to grow bigger and faster but apologized to the media and fans.

Gary Sheffield was not quoted as frequently in the stories. When he was, his most common strategy was to evade responsibility by claiming his use of steroids was an accident. Sheffield said it was an accident, that he took the drugs "unknowingly" and would not do it again, but he never apologized.

Negative coverage persisted, no matter what the strategy, Haigh said. "Perhaps the best lesson here for athletes is it may be almost impossible to escape negative coverage — even if they apologize. And it may be impossible to repair their image."

The College of Communications at Penn State serves as home for the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, which was created in 2003 and explores issues and trends in sports journalism through instruction, programming and research.

The center's undergraduate curricular emphasis includes courses in sports writing, sports broadcasting, sports information and sport and society. Along with classroom instruction, the Center’s mission stresses the value of interaction, from on-campus guest lectures and on-site visits by students to real-life experience gained through internships. Sponsored programming includes lectures, panels and workshops on journalism and the role of sport in society.

Recent research has focused on a wide variety of topics, including misconceptions about Title IX among the media, the gender makeup of sports departments at newspapers and television stations, and the "mythology" behind the perceived behavior of student-athletes.

Provided by Penn State

Explore further: AMA: Gender inequality still exists in medicine

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa

7 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Scientists have produced a new version of what is perhaps NASA's best view of Jupiter's ice-covered moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was obtained in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo ...

Dish restores Turner channels to lineup

7 hours ago

Turner Broadcasting channels such as Cartoon Network and CNN are back on the Dish network after being dropped from the satellite TV provider's lineup during contract talks.

LiquidPiston unveils quiet X Mini engine prototype

12 hours ago

LiquidPiston has a new X Mini engine which is a small 70 cubic centimeter gasoline powered "prototype. This is a quiet, four-stroke engine with near-zero vibration. The company said it can bring improvements ...

Recommended for you

New medical device to make the mines safer

Nov 21, 2014

Dehydration can be a serious health issue for Australia's mining industry, but a new product to be developed with input from Flinders University's Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) is set to more effectively ...

US family gets $6.75 million in Botox case

Nov 20, 2014

A New York couple who said Botox treatment of their son's cerebral palsy left him with life-threatening complications and sued its manufacturer won a $6.75 million verdict from a federal jury on Thursday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.