Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Weffer, Simone E.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


Social psychology; Sports administration


Throughout the history of the United States, protest has provoked both social thought and backlash. Protests regarding civil rights and equality can create situations of great discomfort and varying forms of repression---but can protest manifest a stigmatizing response from audiences? This thesis analyzes content regarding the protest actions of players in the National Football League and the resultant consequences placed upon players. Viewed through the lens of organizational stigma, enhanced by the uniqueness of these protests, we come to the conclusion that the criteria for stigma are met. These findings acknowledge the uniqueness of the protest movement that allows for such findings to manifest, such as the identities of all protesters within this particular movement being known and easily discovered. The overall impact of the consequences faced both by players and the National Football League as a whole meet criteria for organizational stigma by touching on responses by audiences and stakeholders as noted in previous literature, as well as organizational responses to audience and stakeholder reactions to discrediting events. While stigma is a convergence of several factors, reactions to collective player action have presented an interesting opportunity to study the formation of organizational stigma.


Advisors: Simon Weffer.||Committee members: Fred E. Markowitz; Carol Walther.||Includes bibliographical references.


53 pages




Northern Illinois University

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