Authors: Dr. Lindsey H. Schroeder, Dr. Alana N. Seaman
Lindsey H. Schroeder Ed.D., LAT, ATC, CES
601 S. College Rd.
Wilmington NC, 28403-5956
Dr. Lindsey Schroeder is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in the Athletic Training Program. She is a licensed and certified athletic trainer and is also an alumnus of the United States Sports Academy. Dr. Alana Seaman, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in the Recreation, Sport Leadership & Tourism Management Program.
Athletic Training in Popular Sports Films: More than khakis, a polo, and a roll of tape?
Athletic trainers are vital to sport in the United States. These licensed, highly qualified, multi-skilled healthcare professionals provide essential medical care, emergency response, and advocacy for athletes in a myriad of sport settings. Their services are crucial to athlete health. However, all bachelor level athletic training programs in the United States will be replaced with a master’s curriculum by 2022, and in turn, the field will be forced to compete for students with other health care professions requiring the same prerequisites and level of training. Evidence suggests that a majority of athletic training students are drawn to the field because of its links to sports, yet public misconceptions about and a lack of respect for the field have been identified as factors keeping potential students from pursuing the profession. Given that film and television are widely recognized as powerful influencers of popular conceptions about professions, and as a result, career choice, particularly within other healthcare fields, a thorough understanding of how athletic trainers and the field of athletic training are depicted across these popular mediums is essential in working towards correcting misconceptions about the field and revealing how future professionals may be recruited into newly developed master’s degree programs. In order to provide a clear picture of how the profession is portrayed in on screen, a content analysis approach was employed in the examination of 20 of the most popular sport-themed films of the last 60 years. While a number of themes emerged, overall findings suggest that athletic trainers and the profession of athletic training were narrowly depicted on screen in turn perpetuating misconceptions, and inaccurate and outdated stereotypes about the profession, and minimizing the importance of athletic trainers in a sport setting.