Branded sports sovereignty: A critical media approach to Puerto Rican Olympic sports

Open Access
Diaz-Torres, Rafael Rene
Graduate Program:
Media Studies
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
June 23, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Ronald V Bettig, Thesis Advisor
  • Olympic sports
  • mass media
  • sports sovereignty
  • Puerto Rico
This work studies the concept and idea of sports sovereignty and its application for Puerto Rican Olympic sports representations. A critical mass media approach is applied to the analysis of the role of corporate communications in the construction, representation and consumption of international sports participations and Puerto Rican athletes. Textual analyses of articles, testimonies and films are combined with political economy approaches that seek to question the ways American mass media’s intervention in Olympic sports undermine the possibility of political power and mobilization for symbolic sports sovereignties that operate in colonial territories like the island of Puerto Rico. This thesis work also questions those discourses that describe the island’s sports sovereignty as an instrument of resistance capable of generating political power in favor of political decolonization for the territory and its citizens. The operation of Puerto Rico’s sports sovereignty as a form of commodity within a neo-liberal market economy threatens its progressive politics possibilities and instead transforms it into a reactionary practice that reproduces forms of media imperialism as it also fails to question the United States dominance on the island. Four different cases are presented for the discussion of this Olympic sports issues and their relationship to what the author identifies as different expressions that result from a corporate and branded sports sovereignty.