Walk It Like You Talk It: A Critical Discourse Analysis of College Athletics Response to the Murder of George Floyd

Ezinne Ofoegbu – Santa Clara University
Leslie Ekpe – Texas Christian University

In the spring of 2020, George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was added to the list of countless unarmed Black people killed at the hands of the police. As an entity within higher education, and an enterprise that makes millions of dollars each year on the unpaid labor of Black athletes, college athletic departments were called to take a stand in support of Black lives both on and off playing fields. The purpose of this study was to examine athletic departments’ public statements in response to the murder of Floyd. We uncovered four themes: describing what happened, naming and acknowledging emotions, calls for unity and humanity, and calls for action and social responsibility. We conclude the paper by discussing recommendations for how athletic departments can affirm that Black lives matter and address institutionalized racism in both public statements and departmental initiatives.