Jennifer Ellison-Brown: Sports and the media
We can tell how important sports is to our culture by the amount of time and space the media devotes to it.
Newspapers, television (terrestrial, cable and satellite), radio, magazines, films and the Internet are all forms of media. All of them devote a great deal of time and space to reporting, discussing and analysing sports.
The impact the media has on sport began in the late 19th century, when newspaper first started reporting on games and events. Later at the beginning of the 20th century, radio began to broadcast live, whereas thousands of people attend a football match, the same match broadcast on radio could reach millions.
In the 1980s, television turned many sports into entertainment packages, giving them a more glamorous image to attract viewers. In the 1990s, satellite and cable television transformed sports into a global phenomenon. Sports events can now be watched from anywhere in the world, live in your home.
The audience that enjoys sports through the media is larger than the number of people who take part, and the opportunities for sponsors to advertise their product are increasing.
Advertisers and sponsors back sports because of the exposure they get in the media.
Television and radio allow individuals to experience live coverage of matches and sport discussion programmes, where people talk about events and performers. Newspapers carry reports of matches and events, comments and sports news. Sports magazine are also a growing area of the sport media. They concentrate on specific sports and sport personalities.
Events presented by the media have been 'packaged'. They decide what to put in and what to leave out and what point of view to take, for example, in TV sports the camera operators and video editors decide which shots you see and from which angle. The producers decide who should be interviewed.
What is presented is often more exciting than the actual event. This is credited to closeup shots, slow-motion replays, dramatic commentary and interviews. In all of the media the way an event is package depends on the time, space and money available. But it also depends on the aim of the media, which might be to:
• Hype an event
• Attract attention
• Please the sponsors
• Express a particular
point of view
The media have turned sportsmen and sportswomen into celebrities. Top performers became household names. As a result, they attract attention from sponsors and advertisers. For example, the media attention given to Lionel Messi in football and Usain Bolt in track and field athletics have made them into household names.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF THE MEDIA
The media have a number of effects on sports, some of which have been very positive. For example, the media have:
• Brought more sponsors to sports
• Awakened public interest in sports so that people either play or watch sports more often
• Made some sports performers rich and famous
• Allow coaches and performers to study techniques on video and improve performance
• Educate and inform about sports through documentaries, coaching programmes and discussion of current issues
• Paid broadcast rights to sports governing bodies which are used to develop the sports.
The media have also had some negative effects on sports.
• Some major sports get wide coverage, while others find it hard to get coverage in the media and minor sports find it hard to attract sponsorship.
• Live television coverage often means smaller crowds at the game venue. An event may lose money as a result.
• Sports personalities may find their private life in the spotlight.
The influence of the media on sports, especially television, is very powerful.