Raising the American Flag Via Olympic Media Consumption: Quantitatively Exploring the Ethics of U.S. Nationalism and Sport Spectatorship


  • Andrew C. Billings University of Alabama (USA)
  • Kenon A. Brown University of Alabama (USA)
  • Natalie B. Devlin University of Texas (USA)


Olympics, media, nationalism, patriotism, spectatorship, American


While the 2016 Summer Olympics was still the most watched program all 17 nights during NBC’s coverage, the decline in overall television viewership could be a sign of audience migration to other platforms to consume Olympic content. Because understanding if motives for displaying national identity and motives for spectating sport could play a role in the consumption of Olympic media across televisual, print and digital platforms, a survey of 257 respondents was conducted, and structural equation modeling was used to determine the relationships among national identity motives, sport spectatorship motives and Olympic media consumption. The analysis revealed the strongest relationships in a three-step approach, where national identity motives directly influence sport spectatorship motives, which in turn directly influences media consumption. Specific relationships are discussed, along with their implications.

Author Biographies

Andrew C. Billings, University of Alabama (USA)

Andrew C. Billings (Ph.D., Indiana University, 1999) is the Ronald Reagan Chair of Broadcasting and Executive Director of the Alabama Program in Sports Communication at the University of Alabama. He is the lead author of the book “Olympic Television: Broadcasting the Biggest Show on Earth†(Routledge, 2017).

Kenon A. Brown, University of Alabama (USA)

Kenon A. Brown (Ph.D., University of Alabama, 2012) is an Assistant Professor and Programming Director for the Alabama Program in Sports Communication at the University of Alabama. His research interests preside in the intersection of media, sport, and public relations.

Natalie B. Devlin, University of Texas (USA)

Natalie Brown-Devlin (Ph.D., University of Alabama, 2014) is an Assistant Professor in the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Texas. Her primary research interests pertain to crisis communication and digital media within the context of sport.