Patriot, Expert, or Complainer? Exploring How Athletes Express Themselves at Olympic Games’ Press Conferences

Bo Li
Olan Scott
Stirling Sharpe
Sarah Stokowski
and Qian Zhong

Media coverage of the Winter Olympic Games provides an invaluable opportunity for athletes to promote themselves to a global audience that otherwise would not be reached through regular calendar events. An important element of athlete promotion occurs during press conferences when athletes speak to global media after winning a medal. The purpose of this study was to investigate how Olympic medalists presented themselves in front of the media aft er achieving Olympic success. A thematic analysis was conducted using press conference transcripts from 307 Olympic medalists during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. The results indicated that athletes were likely to use media opportunities to self-promote their achievements, share secrets and stories, exhibit gratefulness, protest, show patriotism, and provide expert opinion. Overall, six categories of self-presentation were identified and discussed. Practical and theoretical implications are offered throughout, including a contribution to self-presentation theory and suggestions for athlete media literacy training.