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University of Southern California

The IJPC Journal, Volume 10 - Fall 2021 - Fall 2022

Contemporary "Blue Chips:" A Critical Analysis of a Sports Journalist’s Approach to the Scandals Surrounding College Athletics

Brock Adams


In 1994, the film "Blue Chips" brought into focus the crooked world of collegiate sports and the various characters involved in the corruption. While the film primarily focuses on the affiliation between an archaic coach and his high-profile athletes, it also explores the relationship between an elite college basketball program and the sports journalist assigned to cover this type of team. This film is relevant in today’s landscape, given the scandals occurring in the pay-to-play world that has embodied modern-day college basketball. This paper examines "Blue Chips" specifically from the perspective of Ed Axelby, the sports beat reporter covering the nationally ranked Western University men's basketball team. First, it dissects Axelby’s moral commitments as a sports journalist and the constrained relationship he has with both the coach and the players of Western University. Specifically, it explores the true motivation of Axelby’s character and his pursuit of corruption within the men's basketball program. Next, it examines the student-athletes Axelby follows in the film, namely Neon Bordeaux, and Butch McRae, two high-profile black athletes. It discusses the structural issues surrounding them as fictional athletes compared to substantive contemporary athletes and their relationship with the modern media. Finally, this paper examines the for-profit mentality thousands of college athletes are exposed to annually while pursuing their education, and the associated accountability with present-day journalists covering them.

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