Across centuries, the media has played a critical role in relation to sports; hence relative to all other fields such as political discourses and individual behavior, the effects of media on sports remains phenomenal. Irrespective of the media type (whether film, print media or Television), it has affected sport in both positive and negative ways and remains the key mode of interaction between active participants such as sportsmen, clubs, communicators, subordinates, recipients listeners, fans and viewers, (Raney, & Bryant, 2006) . Coakley, & Dunning (2000) notes that there exists two major sporting related information for consumers which include; personal preferences such as family members, peers and colleagues and non personal references which includes television, newspapers, product catalogue, the internet to name but a few. Imperatively, the non personal sources are primarily the media and tend to represents the largest percentage of information remitted to consumers. Direct and Indirect sports consumers forms the two major classifications of sports information consumers with the former being individuals who actually attend sporting events while the latter, those who access information from secondary channels, (Coakley, & Dunning 2000).
Sports and The Media
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Coakley, & Dunning (2000) documents that the media has the most powerful effect on the sporting audience noting that mass media audiences had no power to resist the messages delivered by the media. As an implication of this observation, individual team's public relations departments must collaborate with the various media channel to ensure effective sport reporting since the media has unlimited effects on the audience, (Coakley, & Dunning, 2000).Andrews, Mason, & Silk (2005) affirms that it is through the media that sporting fans attain gratification with individual audience members reacting to mass media for specific sporting events and sport types based on their unique characteristics, relationships and social categories.
This implies that the media is perhaps the greatest shape of the masses psychological attributes since they may at times select content to be viewed or avoided. The media also set agenda within the sporting domain; it has the power to tell the sporting audience what to think since primary players within the media industry are individuals such as editors and producers who select what to cover and where to place their stories in order of priority, and the likely influence this will have on the audience's perceptions of reality, (Andrews, Mason, & Silk, 2005).
Research by Dominique, Robene & Heas (2005) in the English primer league in the United Kingdom for example, concluded that although media sports programs were not the only factors that caused people to support certain teams, they were in most cases the major factors. This was based on the analysis of the increased media coverage of the sporting event. Similarly, examining American football, it is evident that the development of active club interest has always coincided with the featuring of games on specific channels the most notable one being channel 4, (Dominique, Robene & Heas, 2005). It is evident that within the sporting industry, certain sports with large fan base are often selected and given massive coverage while others trivialized or ignored. Specific examples are the cases of female sportspersons or games that are often portrayed are nonexistent or give inequitable portrayals comparative to male sportsmen, (Raney, & Bryant, 2006).
The media also affect innovation within the sporting world where innovation may be new initiatives for individual teams, sports men and women, clubs or sponsors. Examples include new ideologies in the world of sports such as changes in the enforcement of drug testing by a major sporting body or a new design such as new official uniforms for teams or even rules and technology, (Raney, & Bryant, 2006). The media effects on the various stakeholders with respect to innovation are far reaching since in most cases, the media plays the single most significant role to the audience members' receptiveness or adoptiveness to an innovation, (Raney, & Bryant, 2006). According to Coakley, & Dunning (2000) although sources of information may include contacts such s family, friends and associates, the mass media are often the primary sources of information about the new inventions.
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Through the media, sport exposure to a much larger audience has been enabled not only to the direct but to the indirect fans as well. This has enabled individuals unable to attend games as a result of diverse reasons such as costs to watch them in their homes or listen or read the results on the radio, internet or from the newspapers. The general public especially children and young adults often model their behavior on actions obtained from the media such as those viewed on television, listened to on the radio, read on the magazines or newspapers. Sports shape the society's individual member's behavior furthermore one of the key effects of the media is that it provides the opportunities for various sponsors to reach their intended targets, (Raney, & Bryant, 2006).
Giles (2003) notes that it is through the media that sport has evolved into a financial market. The media has created financial avenues for varied teams; an aspect that gives sportsmen the opportunity to develop rewarding careers. In essence, nearly all sporting events’ growth on the financial aspect are a direct result of the media for example, today’s professional athlete’s incomes far exceeds those of the past, a salary boosts that has been necessitated by the media’s attraction of a larger audience who directly and indirectly provide revenue to teams and players, (Preiss, 2006). Through the media, professional sporting especially in the developed world remains one of the most rewarding fields furthermore today the media links gifted athletes to opportunities for example athletes can now be recognized for their abilities and absorbed by major teams or gain sponsorships, scholarships or grants to attend universities or colleges. The media also makes players be seen as role models, with a large proportion of population seeking to imitate these ‘heroes,’ (Andrews, Mason, & Silk, 2005).
Although often portrayed in the negative light, media has expanded women’s equality struggle within the sporting realm, (Raney, & Bryant, 2006). At present, the media has given exposure to female players. An exemplification is the American NBA where research indicates that the media has played a critical role in people’s perception of the role of women in the games who were previously often thought of as cheerleaders. Today there are professional female basket ball players who girls growing up can identify with as their role models. The media also builds a sense of fan support which serves as the ultimate motivator of a given team thereby encouraging hard work to strive for success for the sake of fans. For example it is evident that televised sporting event not only create interest in the sport thereby generating a fan base, but are also better performed comparative to sporting events that receive relatively lesser media coverage. According to Andrews, Mason, & Silk (2005), the media makes players especially those on the professional or college level to develop discipline and morals since they are often aware of their exposure to their fans and family members who are often proud of them and consider them as role models.
Media's critical influence has also been evident in the promotion of player's profiles, an aspect that enables fans to follow the career development of favorite athletes, (Preiss, 2006). The media also educates and promotes fan's interest thereby creating an enthusiastic environment that motivate players to perform, an aspect that raises the levels of sporting events or leagues. In soccer, for example, it has often been noted that the European leagues is considered more advanced to the South American soccer league attracting the best of the latter's players, owing to the massive media coverage of the event, (Coakley, & Dunning, 2000).
Coakley & Dunning (2000) affirm that in some cases, the media may manipulate sporting events for the purposes of profits; this is because sporting has become enormously profitable. It is estimated that a football game for CBS and its affiliates if far more profitable for the CBS than a program in politics since the former has a larger and more desirable audience. Loyalty and celebratory effects also considerably affect profitability for media channels since dependent upon individual game outcomes, there is increased desire to get more information among the fans thereby increasing pre, post and review sports programs via their publications, news, and websites. Additionally, media outlets often focus on exceptional sports shows, drama, action and characters to create vivid pictures, memories, and experiences for the audience.
As noted by (Giles, 2003), commercial television has played the most central role in the resulting effect of media on sports although a number of critics have noted that this also has negative effects. The media’s attention on player’s lives beyond the sporting arena has been noted as undesirable. Media interest into the private lives of players have become legendary giving players no privacy and forcing majority of athletes to strive to develop a nearly flawless lifestyles despite being human, (Varzock, 2007). Presently, the media scrutinizes sportsmen’s every move, a feat that has made professional athletes lead abnormal lives as they often have limited public access. Coakley, & Dunning (2000) also notes that the media have tended to portray very famous athletes as having the ‘above the law’ status leading to misbehavior among professional sportsmen. There are a number of lawsuits or crimes that have been committed by famous sportspersons that have attracted far lenient punishments comparative to those of a normal person.
The media has also been noted as having a distorting effect on the outcomes of sporting events, (Dominique, Robene & Heas, 2005). They also notes that the sporting world today remains media driven, an aspect that has driven sport into a free market and brought about varied forms of violence and manipulation. He notes that since money is the ultimate focus of the media agencies, they often exploit sport hence today the sporting world has embraced the corporate world an aspect that can be viewed as sporting commercialization. He also notes that the media has enabled sport to be used as a political team giving the example of the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936, in which the media via the new technology (television) used the phenomenon of sport to advance a political regime.
Media coverage of sport may contribute to a potentially dangerous transformation of the masse’s perceptions, (Dominique, Robene & Heas, 2005). He states that today’s media tend to brush out the harsher or more undesirable aspects of sport for the purposes of commercial propaganda and advertising. Hence other than the negative aspects of violence, cheating and manipulation, the media has been noted as giving the sport bad image in the form of brain washing and a false perfect image that serve the interest of the big corporate brand name companies they support, (Dominique, Robene & Heas, 2005).
The promotion of gender inequality within the sporting world has also been noted as another critical negative effect of media on sporting. Dominique, Robene & Heas, 2005) stipulate that there exists discrimination against sports women with the exception of tennis players) who are given low profile with their teams being rarely covered on major sports such as soccer, basketball, golf or handball. This is the residual outcome of the fact that sports news and sports reporting are a male preserve and is nearly exclusively presented and controlled by men, (Coakley, & Dunning, 2000). Counterproductively, although the media has served to promote sporting, Larsen (2002) observes that overexposure of sporting events and continued analysis has led to the loss of attraction. He states that comparative to the days of monopoly broadcasts which made broadcasts rare giving individual events special aura, today stories of competitive sporting have become commonplace and are too often repeated.
Analysis and Theoretical Background
Studies related to sports-media are relatively new with Giles, D. (2003) observing that the sport-media studies developed 'at a relatively late date.' Wenner 1998 claims that the first major work on this relation may perhaps be his 1989 book titled Media, Sports and Society, a book that he claims launched the interest in sports-media studies, (Andrews, Mason, & Silk, 2005). However, a number of publications related to media and sports can be traced back to the first half of the 20th century. A number of theories have been advanced in an attempt to analyze the relative effect of media on sports the most notable ones of which include; the hypodermic needle r the magic bullet theory which affirms that media effects on audience is uncontrollable since the masses have no power to control it, (Andrews, Mason, & Silk, 2005).
Aggregately, media and sporting have become inseparable, evident from the way sports and media corporate and support one another for public consumption. The symbiotic relation between the two industries cannot be denied furthermore sports leagues have not gotten into the media business through partnerships and through own media outlets such as own websites, publications and even television channels such as Arsenal TV, NBA TV or the NFL channel, (Dominique, Robene & Heas, 2005). Based on this critical symbiotic relationship, it is critical that the two industries maintain steady public relations (PR) and marketing structures, (Preiss, 2006). Although there are positive and negative effects of the media, the positive far outweighs the negative and it is critical to note that the growth success of sport is a result of the media attention. Hence generally, the media is a positive influence in general with other negative outlines.
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