Professor: Focus on the violence afflicted on America’s children when covering death of Adrian Peterson’s son, not the ‘good man’ narrative

Molly Yanity, assistant professor of journalism in the School of Communications, is available to discuss NFL running back Adrian Peterson’s decision to play two days after his two-year-old son died in an alleged case of child abuse.

“The greatest thing that can come from the tragic death of Adrian Peterson’s young son is that a light will be shined on the violence that is afflicted upon this nation’s children every day,” said Yanity. “It is not, however, the story of a great athlete performing under the emotional duress of needlessly losing a child.”

“I wish it was, and the media — of which I was once a willing and excited member — will have you believe that. This is part of the ‘good man’ narrative that, at the turn of the 20th century, gave us biographies of the great, white athletes like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle — without the sexism, racism and alcoholism that plagued these humans. This is the problem we are faced with when we hear of these narratives. We want to believe Peterson, a back of such unique skill, is also a great man. He may be. In this case, I sympathize with him, his family and, more so, the family of the woman he impregnated. I would rather read about the truth of this matter — a single mother whose boyfriend beat and murdered her child —  than about a privileged athlete who may have ignored a responsibility.”

Molly Yanity teaches, among other things, sports-media-culture and reporting for the Web. She covered sports for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 2001-2009, was a regular on sports talk radio in Seattle and Spokane, and received her PhD in mass communication from Ohio University in 2013. She has also been published in the International Journal of Sport Communication and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

To schedule an interview with Yanity, please call John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, at 203-206-4449.


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