“It’s Funny to Hear a Female Talk About Routes”: Social Media Reaction to Cam Newton’s Comments About a Woman Reporter

Kevin Hull, Miles Romney, Ann Pegoraro, Guy Harrison


In October 2017, NFL quarterback Cam Newton made what many believed to be a sexist comment at woman reporter Jourdan Rodrigue. The next day, racist tweets from Rodrigue’s past were discovered. This research examines the evolution of the social media discourse on Twitter regarding Newton’s comments and then Rodrigue’s past. The order of the events created a conflict between race and gender on Twitter from social media users. Using network framing, results demonstrate that the tone varied based on the gender of the user and the time frame in which it was sent.


gender, football, racism, framing, NFL

Full Text:



Alexander, A. (2017, October 5). Observer reporter who covers Panthers apologizes for tweets. The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved from http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article177347751.html

Ash, E., Sanderson, J., Kumanyika, C., & Gramlich, K. (2017). "Just goes to show how these

hoes try to tear men down": Investigating Twitter and cultural conversations on athletic ability, race, and sexual assault. Journal of Sports Media, 12(1), 65-87.

Bals, A. S., Campbell, C. L., & Pitt, L. F. (2012). Viewer reactions to online political spoof videos and advertisements. In Online Consumer Behavior: Theory and Research in Social Media, Advertising, and E-tail, edited by A. Close, 185–208. New York: Routledge.

Barnes, K. (2017, October 6). Sexism vs. racism – unpacking the Cam Newton-JourdanRodrigue conversation. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/espnw/voices/article/20936117/sexism-vs-racism-unpacking-cam-newton-jourdan-rodrigue-conversation

Batten, T. (2017, October 7). Cam, Jourdan and how hard it is to forgive. Retrieved from http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/taylor-batten/article177511886.html

Bien-Aime, S. (2016). AP Stylebook normalizes sports as a male space. Newspaper Research Journal, 37(1), pp. 1-14.

Billings, A. C., Burch, L. M., & Zimmerman, M. H. (2014). Fragments of us, fragments of them: Social media, nationality and US perceptions of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Soccer & Society, 15(5–6), 726–744.

Bissell, K., & Duke, A. (2007). Bump, Set, Spike: An Analysis of Commentary and Camera Angles of Women's Beach Volleyball During the 2004 Summer Olympics. Journal of Promotion Management, 13(1-2), 35-53.

Blaszka, M., Frederick, E., Pegoraro, A., & Newman, T. (2016). Was dissent being displayed during the Sochi Olympics? Examining the #Sochi2014 hashtag for dissent. Global Sport Business Journal, 4(1), 1-13

Breech, J. (2017, October 19). Cam Newton skips out on weekly press conference on same day female reporter returns. Retrieved from https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/cam-newton-skips-out-on-weekly-press-conference-on-same-day-female-reporter-returns/

Bryant, J. & Holt, A. M. (2009). A Historical Overview of Sports and Media in the United States. In Raney, A. A. & Bryant, J. (Eds.) Handbook of sports media. London: Routledge.

Burch, L. M., Frederick, E. L., & Pegoraro, A. (2015). Kissing in the carnage: An examination of framing on Twitter during the Vancouver riots. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 59(3), 399-415

Cahn, S. K. (1994). Coming on strong: Gender and sexuality in twentieth-century women’s sports. New York: Free Press.

Cooky, C., Messner, M., & Musto, M. (2015). “It’s dude time!”: A quarter century of excluding women’s sports in televised news and highlight shows. Communication & Sport, 3(3), 261-287.

Creedon, P. J. (1994). “From whalebone to Spandex: Women and sports journalism in American magazine, photography and broadcasting.” In P. Creedon (Ed.), Women media and sport: Challenging gender values (pp. 108-158). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Cunningham, G., Sagas, B., Sartore, M., Amsden, M., & Schellhase, L. (2004). Gender representation in the NCAA News: is the glass half full or half empty? Sex Roles, 50(11), 861-870.

Davis, D. C. & Krawczyk, J. (2010). Female sportscaster credibility: Has appearance taken precedence? Journal of Sports Media, 5(2), 1-34.

Diana-Luiza, D. (2013). Who is responsible for the team's results? Media framing of sports actors' responsibility in major sports competitions, Revista Romana de Comunicare si relatii publice 15(3), 65-81.

Dennis, J. W., O’Loughlin, B., & Gillespie, M. (2015). Tweeting the Olympics: Towards a methodological framework for Big Data analysis of audience engagement during global media events. Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, 12(1), 438–469.

Duncan, M., & Hasbrook, C. (1988). Denial of power in televised women's sports. Sociology of Sport Journal, 5(1), 1-21.

Duncan, M. C., Jensen, K., & Messner, M. A. (1993). Separating the men from the girls: The gendered language of televised sports. Gender and Society, 7, 121-137.

Duncan, M. C. & Messner, M. A. (1998). The Media Image of Sport and Gender. In Wenner, L. A. (Ed.). (1998). MediaSport. London: Routledge.

Eastman, S. T. & Billings, A. C. (2000). Sportscasting and sports reporting: The power of gender bias. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 24(2), 192-213.

Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing: toward clarification of a fractured paradigm, Journal of Communication, 43(4), 51-58.

Etling, L. W., & Young, R. (2007). Sexism and the authoritativeness of female sportscasters. Communication Research Reports, 24(2), 121–130.

Fowler, S. (2017, October 4). Cam Newton’s sexist comment to Observer reporter wasn’t one bit funny. The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved from http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/scott-fowler/article177107336.html

Frederick, E., Pegoraro, A., & Burch, L. (2016). Echo or organic: framing the 2014 Sochi Games. Online Information Review, 40(6), 798-813

Frederick, E. L., Pegoraro, A., & Burch, L. M. (2017). Legends worthy of lament: An analysis of self-presentation and user framing on the Legends Football League's Facebook page. Journal of Sports Media, 12(1), 169-190.

Frederick, E. L., Stocz, M., & Pegoraro, A. (2016). Prayers, punishment, and perception: an analysis of the response to the Tony Stewart–Kevin Ward Jr. incident on Facebook. Sport in Society, 19(10), 1460-1477

Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. Harvard University Press.

Goffman, E. (1986). Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Gorn, E. J. & Goldstein, W. (2013). A brief history of American sports. Urbana: U. of Illinois Press.

Grossman, E. (2017, October 6). Cam Newton is our runaway jerk of the week for sexist comment to reporter. New York Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/cam-newton-runaway-jerk-week-sexist-comment-article-1.3545742

Halbert, C., & Latimer, M. (1994). Battling gendered language - an analysis of the language used by sports commentators in a televised coed tennis competition. Sociology of Sport Journal, 11(3), 298-308.

Hamdy, N., & Gomaa, E. H. (2012). Framing the Egyptian uprising in Arabic language newspapers and social media. Journal of Communication, 62, 195–211.

Hardin, M., Dodd, J. E., Lauffer, K. (2006). Passing it on: The reinforcement of male hegemony in sports journalism textbooks. Mass Communication and Society, 9(4), 429-446.

Hardin, M. & Shain, S. (2006). “Feeling much smaller than you know you are”: The fragmented professional identity of female sports journalists. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 23(4), 322-338.

Hardin, M. & Whiteside, E. (2006). Fewer women, minorities work in sports departments. Newspaper Research Journal. 27(2). 38-51.

Heilbrunn, A. (2017, October 5). With Newton and reporter, did we condemn sexism but excuse racism? Retrieved from http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/nfl/sd-sp-heilbrunn-newton-rodrigue-sexism-racism-20171005-story.html

Kian, E. M., & Hardin, M. (2009). Framing of sport coverage based on the sex of sports writers: female journalists counter the traditional gendering of media coverage, International Journal of Sport Communication, 2(2).

Kuypers, J.A. (2002). Press bias and politics: How the media frame controversial issues. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Lind, R.A., & Salo, C. (2002). The framing of feminists and feminism in news and public affairs programs in U.S. electronic media. The Journal of Communication, 52(1), 211–228.

Loza, S. (2014). Hashtag feminism,# SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, and the other# FemFuture. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, 5.

Macnamara, J. (2005). Media content analysis: Its use, benefits and best practice methodology. Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal 6(1), 1–34.

McChesney, R. (1989). Media Made Sport. In Wenner, L. A. (Ed.) Media, sports, and society. Newbury Park, Calif: Sage Publications.

Meraz, S., & Papacharissi, Z. (2013). Networked gatekeeping and networked framing on #Egypt. The International Journal of Press/Politics 18(2), 138–166.

Messner, M. A., Duncan, M.C., & Cooky, C. (2003). Silence, sports bras, and wrestling porn: Women in televised sports news and highlights shows. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 27(1), 38-51.

Musto, M., Cooky, C., & Messner, M. (2017). “From fizzle to sizzle!”: Televised sports news and the production of gender-bland sexism. Gender and Society, 31(5). 573-596.

Neuendorf, K. (2002). The content analysis guidebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Newton, Cameron. [CameronNewton]. (2017, October 5). [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/CameronNewton/status/916105280760541185

Newton, D. (2017, October 8). Cam Newton dons Rosie the Riveter pin as part of pregame attire. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/20954408/cam-newton-carolina-panthers-wearing-rosie-riveter-stadium-arrival

Nisbet, M. (2010). Knowledge into action: Framing the debates over climate change and poverty. In P. D’Angelo & J. Kuypers (Eds.), Doing Frame Analysis: Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives (pp. 43–83). New York: Routledge.

Ordman, V. L. & Zillmann, D. (1994). Women sports reporter: Have they caught up? Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 18(1), 66-75.

Papper, B. (2005). Running in place. RTNDA Communicator. 26-32.

Ponterotto, D. (2014). Trivializing the female body: A cross-cultural analysis of the representation of women in sports journalism. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 15(2), 94-111.

Pegoraro, A., Burch, L, Frederick, E. L., & Vincent, C. (2015). I am not loving it: Examining the hijacking of #CheersToSochi. International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 15(3/4), 163–183.

Perez, A. J. (2017, October 4). Organizations quick to react to Cam Newton’s sexist comments. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2017/10/04/organizations-quick-react-cam-newtons-sexist-comments/734295001/

Rodrigue, J. [JourdanRodrigue] (2017a, October 4). I don’t think it’s “funny” to be a female and talk about routes. I think it’s my job. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/JourdanRodrigue/status/915682599326162945

Rodrigue, J. [JourdanRodrigue] (2017b, October 5). I apologize for the offensive tweets from my Twitter account from 4/5 years ago. There is no excuse for these tweets and the sentiment behind them. I am deeply sorry and apologize. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/JourdanRodrigue/status/915976275356999680

Saldana, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Schell, L. A., & Rodriguez, S. (2000). Our sporting sisters: How male hegemony stratifies women in sport. Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, 9, 15–35.

Schmidt, S. H., Frederick, E. L., Pegoraro, A., & Spencer, T. C. (2018). An Analysis of Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe, and the National Anthem Protests. Communication & Sport. Advance online publication.

Seate, A. A., Harwood, J., & Blecha, E. (2010). ‘He was framed!’ Framing criminal behavior in sports news. Communication Research Reports, 27(4), 343-354.

Sheffer, M. L. & Schultz, B. (2007). Double standard: Why women have trouble getting jobs in local television sports. Journal of Sports Media. 2(1). 77-101.

Smith, A. E., & Humphreys, M. S. (2006). Evaluation of unsupervised semantic mapping of natural language with Leximancer Concept Mapping. Behavior Research Methods 38(2), 262–279.

Smith, L. (2014). Girls ruin everything: an analysis of the framing of the removal of baseball and softball from Olympic competition. Journal of Sports Media, 9(2), 97-114.

Snyder, M. A. (1994). The new competition: Sports careers for women. In G.L. Cohen (Ed.), Women in sports: issues and controversies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Sports Business News. (2015, July 10). Richard Lapchick Study – 2014 Associated Press Sports Editors Racial and Gender Report Card. Retrieved from: http://www.sportsbusinessnews.com/node/28342.

Tuchman, G. (1979). Women’s depiction by the mass media. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 4(3), 528-42.

Vrentas, J. (2017, October 4). Hey, Cam Newton, it’s not that hard to talk about football. Retrieved from https://www.si.com/nfl/2017/10/04/nfl-cam-newton-carolina-panthers-sexist-remark-press-conference-charlotte-observer-jordan-rodrigue


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Based at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, USA, The Journal of Social Media in Society is sponsored by the Colleges of Liberal and Fine Arts, Education, Business, and Graduate Studies.