|dc.description.abstract||In 2007, Barry Bonds hit his 75 6th home run, breaking Hank Aaron's all-time record for
most home runs in a Major League career. While it would be expected that such an
accomplishment would induce unending praise and adulationfor the new record-holder,
Bonds did not receive the treatment typically reserved for a beloved baseball hero. The
purpose of this thesis is to assess media representations of the 2007 home run chase in
order to shed light upon the factors which led to the mixed representations which
accompanied BOlTds ' assault on Aaron's record. Drawingfrom Roland Barthes ' concept
of myth, this thesis proposes that Bonds was portrayed in predominantly negative ways
because he was seen as failing to embody the values of baseball's mythology.
Using a qualitative content analysis of three major American newspapers, this
thesis examines portrayals of Bonds and how he was shown both to represent and oppose
elements from baseball's mythology, such as youth, and a distant, agrarian past.
Recognizing the ways in which baseball is associated with American life, the media
representations of Bonds are also evaluated to discern whether he was portrayed as
personifYing a distinctly American set of values.
The results indicate that, in media coverage of the 2007 home run chase, Bonds
was depicted as a player of many contradictions. Most commonly, Bonds' athletic ability
and career achievements were contrasted with unflattering descriptions of his character,
including discussions of his alleged use of performance-enhancing substances. However,
some coverage portrayed Bonds as embodying baseball myth. The findings contribute to
an appreciation of the importance of historical context in examining media
representations. This understanding is enhanced by an analysis of a selection of articles
on Mark McGwire 's record-breaking season in 1998, and careful consideration of, and
comparison to, the context under which Bonds performed in 2007. Findings are also
shown to support the contemporary existence of a strong American baseball mythology.
That Bonds is both condemned for failing to uphold the mythology and praised for
personifYing it suggests that the values seen as inherent to baseball continue to act as an
American cultural benchmark.||en_US