An Inappropriate Football “Formation”: Beyoncé’s 2016 Super Bowl Performance, Mystery, and the Narratives of Football and Race in America

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Richelle J Hurley

Abstract

Sports often serve as a microcosm for culture and society, and thus when meanings surrounding sports are disrupted, it likely represents a larger disruption of cultural and societal meanings, as well as group and individual identities. One can view Beyoncé’s 2016 Super Bowl performance as disruption to constructed meanings—particularly meanings surrounding sports—as the American public voiced mixed reactions to the performance and its context. Through a social constructionist lens, and through an analysis of perspectives from Pearce, Dewey, and Berger & Luckmann, this essay understands Beyoncé’s 2016 Super Bowl performance as a mystery and an alternative narrative to the constructed meanings of sports, activism, and race in America. 

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Communication