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Sports and the Media. Areas of Interest in the Study of Sport and the Media. Characteristics of the Media Sports’ Relationship with the Media Images and Messages in Media Sports The Characteristics of Sports Journalism. Media Characteristics.

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Areas of Interest in the Study of Sport and the Media

  • Characteristics of the Media

  • Sports’ Relationship with the Media

  • Images and Messages in Media Sports

  • The Characteristics of Sports Journalism


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Media Characteristics

  • Coakley and Donnelly stress the following about the media:

    • The media are bridges between us and the rest of the world directing our attention to selected items of information, experience, images and ideas.

    • The media provide three things, sometimes providing all three at one time:

      • Information about events and people

      • Interpretations of what is going on the world

      • Numerous forms of entertainment


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Media Interests I

  • The way in which in the media re-presents reality emerges from decisions that are motivated by their interest in five things:

    • Making profits

    • Shaping values

    • Providing public service

    • Building their own reputations

    • Expressing themselves in technical artistic forms


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Media Interests II

  • Decisions about media content are also influenced by power relations and society as a whole.

    • Media consumers rarely have direct control over media content because the media often serve the interest of those with power and wealth

    • Unfortunately, most people believe that when they see a sport event on television they are seeing sport "the way it is" when in fact television coverage gives us only one of many possible sets of images and messages related to a sport event.


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For Discussion

One of the paradoxes associated with the media coverage of sports is that the media open up new opportunities for spectators to view sports, but they also limit and define the experiences of spectators. Using at least two examples of each from the textbook, explain how the media can do both these things simultaneously.


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Sports and The Media: A Two-way Relationship I

  • Many sports forms do not depend upon the media, but commercial sports organizations do for their existence and success.

  • Sports are not primarily shaped by the media; however, because of their profit making goals, commercial sports have been open to changing to accommodate the media whenever it is profitable to do so.


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Sports and Media: A Two-way Relationship II

  • Newspapers and television are the mass mediums that have become most dependent on sports.

    • Newspapers

      • Most major American newspapers give more daily coverage to sports than to any other single topic

      • The sports section is the most widely read section

      • Many depend on the sports section to attract advertising revenues and for general subscription and sales

    • Television

      • Some companies have developed a dependence on sports for programming content and advertising, especially cable and satellite stations

      • Some networks even sponsor events that they then promote and televise


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Discussion Question

Coakley and Donnelly make the point that mediated sports are symbolic constructions, just as Hollywood films and television soap operas are symbolic constructions. What is meant by this point, and what is involved in the media construction of sports?


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How the Media Construct Sports

  • Media provide a selective version of sports. Where media are privately owned and depend on monetary profits, sports are selected for coverage based on entertainment value.

  • Media sports tend to emphasize

    • Action

    • Competition

    • Final scores

    • Performance statistics

    • Records

    • Elite athletes and events

    • Aggression

    • Heroic action

    • Athletes’ emotions and personalities


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Discussion Question

Coakley and Donnelly state that the coverage of sports in North American media has probably had a major impact on how people in Canada and the U.S. think about masculinity, femininity, and gender relations as a whole. Use material and examples from the chapter and from your personal experience to either agree or disagree with this statement.


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Themes of Underlying Images and Messages in Mediated Sports I

  • Success themes

    • US media sports tend to emphasize success themes more than sport media in other countries such as Britain where strategy and the flow of the game are emphasized.

  • Masculinity and femininity themes

    • overwhelming evidence supports the position that mediated sports promote the idea that women's sports are less important than men's sports


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    Themes of Underlying Images and Messages in Mediated Sports II

    • Race themes

      • Some research has shown that announcers often unwittingly engage in distinctive commentaries when describing whites and blacks.

  • Other ideological themes in mediated sports

    • Nationalism and national unity

    • Competitive individualism

    • Teamwork

    • Aggression

    • Consumerism


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    Media Impact on Sport-Related Behaviours I II

    • Active participation in sports

      • Coakley and Donnelly argue that sports media have no net positive or negative influence on sport participation.

  • Attendance at sports events

    • Coakley and Donnelly argue game attendance is positively related to media coverage; however, this conclusion should be qualified in two ways:

      • attendance may be limited by ticket price increases in areas where people have the option of watching local games on television

      • The media’s focus on elite sport might undermine attendance at less elite events


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    Media Impact on Sport-Related Behaviours II II

    • Gambling on sports

      • The media do make it easier for gambling to occur, but this does not necessarily cause gambling.

  • Audience experiences with media sports

    • People use media coverage of sports for different things:

      • developing and maintaining social identities

      • feeling a personal sense of significance

      • engaging in social interaction

      • maintaining social relationships


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    The Profession of Sports in Journalism II

    • Ethics and sports in journalism

      • Sport reporters seem to have ethical standards that differ from other reporters

      • The relationship between journalist and their principle source is complex

      • Sport journalists encounter several perils that may hinder their credibility

    • Sports writers and sports announcers use different approaches (Koppet, 1994)


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    Kidd’s (2005) Recommendations: IIFor Public Policy

    • Break up the monopolies

    • Strengthen the scrutiny of press councils and CRTC

    • Make all broadcasting contracts transparent

    • Require public broadcasters to cover a proportional amount of women’s sports

    • Strengthen the preparation of journalists


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    Kidd’s (2005) Recommendations: IIFor Journalists

    • Develop and sharpen critical distance

    • Break the habit of depending upon handouts from teams/institutions

    • Don’t cover every game

    • Cover the entire landscape of Canadian sports

    • Pursue careers that span sports and other ‘beats’


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    Kidd’s (2005) Recommendations: IIFor students

    • Contribute to the critical examination of the production, distribution and meaning of sports coverage through essays and research

    • Challenge (through press councils and CRTC) the most outrageous examples of biased coverage

    • Challenge the vested interests of the sports community in uncritical coverage


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    Student Questions II

    • Is the success of female athletes being promoted more in the media based on sex appeal as opposed to physical ability?



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