A thematic analysis of Heisman Trophy winners: coverage 2000-2015

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University of Alabama Libraries

In 1935 the inaugural Heisman Memorial Award was presented at the end of the college football season and continues to serve as a symbol of athletic excellence for winners. The publicity can also earn schools media attention, and maintaining the relationships with the media has been an important strategy in sports public relations. This research then delves into the thematic elements of media coverage for the Heisman winners over the past 15 years and searches for commonalities among sources, themes and other elements in regards to coverage. It was found that journalists we engaged with the Heisman story before, during, and after the season, and their coverage can differ greatly. Starting from late July and early August, preseason predictions and watch lists made their way to the forefront. Coverage, however, tended to peak in mid to late November, when the candidates of the Heisman were usually narrowed down to four or five athletes. An analysis of the coverage revealed three themes emerging across media outlets and over time: personality, personal issues, and athleticism. These insights can help sports information directors develop more targeted narratives in telling the stories that are most likely to resonant with sports reporters and other Heisman voters.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Communication, Journalism