Racially differentiated language in NFL scouting reports (KDD Large Scale Sports Analytics, 2016)




Christopher Boylan, Ryan McMahon, and Burt L. Monroe. 2016. "Racially differentiated language in NFL scouting reports." ACM SIGKDD Workshop on Large Scale Sports Analytics. August 13, San Francisco.



Do NFL scouts describe white quarterback prospects and minority quarterback prospects differently? Does racially differentiated discussion of prospects affect their draft stock? In this paper, we identify systematic differences in how scouts describe white and minority quarterback prospects. Reports on white quarterbacks emphasize positive intangibles such as leadership skills and intelligence, while reports on mi- nority quarterbacks focus more on physical attributes and negative intangibles. Supplementary analyses indicate that these differences are driven by the race of prospects and that minority quarterbacks are undervalued in the draft. We also show that discussion of intangible character qualities asso- ciated with reports on white prospects is predictive of im- proved draft position. Our findings suggest that racially framed perceptions, as reflected in the differentiated lan- guage of scouting reports, continue to influence the draft stock of NFL quarterback prospects.