The Great White Hype??


The Great White Hype??


The following article first appeared in The Nubian Message, North Carolina State University's African-American student newspaper, which was first published on November 30, 1992.

This report from the staff of the Message details observations of print and television media sources' coverage of black versus white athletes. As a result, the Message concluded that significant disparities in the coverage of different athletes provided evidence of underlying racial prejudices. In what would prove to be a controversial decision, the report features a picture of N.C. State Quarterback Phillip Rivers, who just completed a wildly successful freshman year for the Wolfpack. For example, the Message staff claims that television broadcasts of football games "rarely" featured "off the field stories concerning blacks." Although, as the report concludes, "the difference in coverage was not blatant racism," it could potentially reinforce various negative stereotypes about African-Americans.


The Nubian Message  Staff


The Nubian Message Staff, "The Great White Hype??" The Nubian Message 8, no. 11 (December 7-31, 2000), 1-2. Digitized by the Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.




Madison W. Cates






The white quarterback is the most heralded player in professional and collegiate football because of, among many things, unfair coverage by television and print media, a study conducted by “The Nubian Message” revealed.

The observation of selected football television broadcasts shown on the networks, ESPN, FOX, and CBS revealed that television cameras gave a disproportionate amount of camera time to white players, coaches and fans considering most of the players on the field in all instances were in fact black. Part of the reason can be attributed to economics. Whites are the primary economic base for collegiate and professional football broadcasts. These broadcasts systematically give whites more “face time” in an effort to make their broadcasts more comfortable for the viewing audience.

The game announcers more often than not spent more time giving commentary about white players than they did for blacks, the study showed. The commentary about white players was on average extremely more positive and included information unrelated to the actual game. This was information often times concerning the player’s family, work ethic, interviews, etc. Most of the commentary regarding black players was limited to game situations and rarely did the announcers refer to off the field stories concerning blacks. The study also revealed that white players, on average, received more emphasis in their commentary after they made a great play. Many great plays by black players were not given that much emphasis and treated as if they were very routine by the announcers [see table 1]

The disparity in coverage did not stop with television broadcasts. The print media contributed to the glorification of white athletes and coaches simply by doing more positive off the field stories. Black athletes received the most off the field coverage from the print media for actions that were violent and criminal while white athletes received the most off the field coverage when they won awards or did something positive.

The print analysis was conducted by recording references in stories written about black and white quarterbacks who were generally of the same skill level.

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The Nubian Message Staff, “The Great White Hype??,” The State of History, accessed June 30, 2022,