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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 Open Access


Other title
Nations in sport media
Doping in women's sport
US sport media
Feminist sport studies
The Women's National Basketball Association
Deleuzian sport studies
Sport media analysis
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Liao, Chia-Ying
Supervisor and department
Markula, Pirkko (Physical Education and Recreation)
Examining committee member and department
Hughes, Karen (Sociology/Business)
Helisten, Michelle (Kinesiology & Physical Education, University of Lethbridge)
Washington, Marvin (Business)
Mason, Dan (Physical Education and Recreation)
Physical Education and Recreation

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
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.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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