How does Olympic and biographical media coverage affect fan and social identification with Mo Farah?
Mo Farah is a quadruple Olympic gold medalist who has won distance gold medals in track competition in the London and Rio De Janeiro Summer Olympic Games, in 2012 and 2016, respectively. Farah’s national and ethnic identity are complex. Often, news coverage of him has mentioned his heritage. Using media clips, one of Farah winning a race at the Olympics and two clips from a documentary about Farah – one where Farah is at home with family Oregon, where he trains, and one where Farah is visiting his roots in Somalia, where he was born – this study asked survey participants which clip scored highest on several scales. Those scores included how well Farah represented his country, his likability, his relatability to the American college student audience, and how positively the participants felt about him. Findings show that participants reacted most positively toward Farah when he was described as Somali in the media, even though he left Somalia at age eight, was officially a British athlete in the Olympics, and now lives in the United States. Participants on the whole responded better to personable documentary coverage than news coverage, and they seemed to embrace Farah based on what they perceived his national identity to be. Keywords: Social identity, national identity, ethnic identity, nuanced national identity, media coverage, sport and Olympic media, Mo Farah.