Open Access Dissertation
Date of Award
Kelly M. Young
In this project, I build on existing research in the critical intersection of media, sport, gaming and race to explore how fantasy football, an entertainment byproduct of the National Football League (NFL), rearticulates and recontexualizes the colonial ideology already prolific in the NFL and other products of American media culture. I investigate how fantasy football may represent an innocuous, yet exigent place to study the commodification and consumption of bodies in our contemporary media landscape because of the way that the increasingly popular game operates in a capitalistic logic, where NFL players are almost exclusively valued for their statistical production and fantasy football participants are positioned as "owners" of these players. Within this assumption, I analyze three specific colonial rhetorics of fantasy football: the language used to talk about NFL players in fantasy football discourse, the procedures of playing fantasy football and the numerical representation of NFL players within the game that serve as the main conduit for visual interactivity. Through a postcolonial lens, I argue that these various rhetorics in fantasy football serve to otherize, commodify, and ultimately dehumanize NFL players, while also inviting fantasy "owners" to attempt to control these bodies. However, because those who play fantasy football have no real access to the operations of the NFL or its players, I suggest that fantasy football participants become situated in an ideological illusion of control, caught in the contradiction between the game's colonial rhetorics and their own level of agency. Furthermore, I explore how these colonial rhetorics impact how we come to see, know and interact with race and rhetorically reshape black and white relations within the United States. In the end, I draw conclusions about the way colonial ideology functions and is rearticulated through fantasy football, as well as offer limitations of my own project and suggestions for future research.
Kellam, Robert Kyle, "Reading between the numbers: the colonial rhetorics of fantasy football and the illusion of control" (2012). Wayne State University Dissertations. 570.