Three Case Studies of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in U.S. Sport Media: Deleuzian Analyses of Media Events Surrounding Diana Taurasi, Becky Hammon and Maya Moore

  • Author / Creator
    Liao, Chia-Ying
  • Previous feminist sport media studies have noted that media narratives surrounding the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) often portray its successes as proof of feminist achievements in women’s sport (Banet-Weiser, 1999; McDonald, 2000, 2002; McDonald & Cooky, 2013; Wearden & Creedon, 2002). Using critical feminist perspectives, this research has further argued that these celebratory narratives of gender equality masked reproduction of hegemonic ideologies of masculinity and whiteness. Using a poststructuralist Deleuzian perspective, in my dissertation I focus on construction of normative female sporting bodies through the mediated WNBA. My dissertation consists of three cases studies on contemporary WNBA-related media events that each draw on a different Deleuzian concept. The first case study focuses on Diana Taurasi’s alleged drug use in Turkey during 2010/11. I use Deleuze’s concept of assemblage to analyze what elements were drawn in to express Taurasi’s drug using body and what structures were articulated within the process. Through this analysis, I describe a shift in attention from the bio-chemical effects of banned substances to the information processing regarding a doping body, as well as a split between Taurasi’s private and public body. I further argue that these movements enabled and reified two structures, American standard and professionalism, through which the normalcy of Taurasi’s athleticism was measured and declared. The second case study focuses on Becky Hammon’s naturalization to Russia and representing the Russian Olympic team in 2008. I use Deleuze’s concept of cartography to map how two nations, the U.S. and Russia, were articulated through the ways in which Hammon was allowed to access and be affiliated with each spatial partition/nation in media. I depict a non-oppositional relation between the nations that legitimated Hammon’s migration to another country for her Olympic glory. This map shows that the supplementary space, Russia, could be correctly experienced only when it supports and nurtures the normative functions of the primary space, the US—such as Hammon’s “regular” job as a WNBA star. The third case study focuses on Maya Moore’s first year with the WNBA in 2011. Using Deleuze’s concept of becoming, I examine the reoccurring “savior” narrative that surrounded Moore’s entrance to the WNBA in the media. I first demonstrate how the media illustrated Moore’s ability to redefine the WNBA. I further discuss how her normativity was constructed through athleticism and profitability rather than gender and race in the commodified media scape of women’s professional sports. My Deleuzian analysis revealed a process of constructing normative professional athletes whose sporting bodies were primarily articulated through standards of the winning records and these athletes’ profitability. Therefore, a different type of ideal professional women basketball player from the feminized, sexualized, or racialized player traced by the previous feminist sport media research emerged. This media ideal continues, nevertheless, to be constructed within the commercialized context of the U.S. that emphasizes individual success and the superiority of the American professional sport.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2014
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Mason, Dan (Physical Education and Recreation)
    • Washington, Marvin (Business)
    • Helisten, Michelle (Kinesiology & Physical Education, University of Lethbridge)
    • Hughes, Karen (Sociology/Business)