Home About Login Register Search Current Archives IJPC home page
Founding Editors
Matthew C. Ehrlich
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Sammye Johnson
Trinity University
Joe Saltzman
University of Southern California
Laura Castañeda
University of Southern California
Richard Ness
Western Illinois University
Editorial Board
Maurine H. Beasley
University of Maryland
Bonnie Brennen
Marquette University
Katherine Foss
Middle Tennessee State University
Mary-Lou Galician
Arizona State University
Loren Ghiglione
Northwestern University
Howard Good
SUNY, New Paltz
Norma Fay Green
Columbia College, Chicago
Radhika Parameswaran
Indiana University
Karen Miller Russell
University of Georgia
Barbie Zelizer
University of Pennsylvania

University of Southern California

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

The Image of the Sport Journalist in Novels

Alan Tomlinson


In exploring the image of the sport journalist or sportswriter in novels there is a surprising gap; few cases exist in which the sport journalist is a developed character or protagonist. Sport and the media have developed strong forms of interdependency in their modern, contemporary form yet the figure of the sport journalist or writer remains largely undeveloped in the representation of sport cultures in novels over a period of over half a century.

Three novels that do include well-developed characterisations of the sport journalist/writer are Bernard Malamud’s "The Natural" (1952), with a strong focus on baseball in the US; Richard Ford’s "The Sportswriter" (1986), revolving around US sports including American Football; and Will Buckley’s "The Man Who Hated Football" (2004), focusing upon reportage of men’s soccer in England. Malamud’s novel features investigative writer Max Mercy; Ford’s central character is feature-writer Frank Bascombe; Buckley’s protagonist is soccer expert Jimmy Stirling. All three of these sportswriters are white and male, and report on essentially male sports. They operate in differing contexts of time and space, yet the representation of the three figures shares some common characteristics: the place of masculinity and patriarchy in sport cultures and business; and the sheer mundanity of reportage in the sport journalist’s life.

The fictional fates and futures in the career trajectories of the sportswriters represented in the three novels evoke the slog of the job, the dubious ethics of the trade, and the dysfunctional relationships of family and community experienced by all of them. Their careers show the dark side of the apparently glamorous and exciting profession of the sport journalist.

To access the complete article, please go to the following:


Copyright Notice Privacy Policy University of Southern California USC Annenberg Center