Social Issues / Influences Of Mass Media In Sport

Influences Of Mass Media In Sport

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Autor:  anton  02 December 2010
Tags:  Influences
Words: 2112   |   Pages: 9
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When a message is spread not just between two individuals but rather between thousands, it is known as mass media. Mass media is the central nervous system to society. The media has many different purposes, such as providing information, entertaining, persuading and also portraying a vague general function of culture to millions of people (Frederick, 18).

In order for mass media to exist, there must to be an audience. Today’s society is very selective; each receiver reacts differently through their own experience and orientation to the media. Mass media evolved into many different forms such as magazines, television, newspapers, internet, motion pictures, and even plays. With such extreme varieties of mass media existing in society there are three major constraints that seem to have an impressionable impact on which form of media one becomes exposed and accustomed to.

The major constraint of mass media is competition. This competition between different forms of media is very intense and capturing the sports world is a critical component to success. Apart from the competition among the various forms of media there is also competition within each form of the media. What I mean by this is that each network competes with all other television networks for a market share of the audience. Network companies such as Fox buy the rights to show American football games for millions of dollars, which they in turn make back through companies wanting to advertise during these games. The audience Fox attracts by showing these games also provides an audience for companies wanting to advertise their products and provides potential customers for their products. This life cycle exists in all forms of media apart from just television. Newspapers try to cover the best stories in all areas of life from tragedy to sports and entertainment. From a sociological stand point in today’s society it can be seen that sex and violence attracts the most attention. By examining the internet, which is the newest form of mass media, it can also be noted that internet hosts providing websites with sexual or violent content are the most frequently visited. This is how companies in the media industry compete with each other, by looking at what attracts the most attention and trying to provide it (Media Influences).

Money also puts a considerable constraint on what forms of media an individual gets exposed to. If a person can’t afford to buy a television, that is restricting the information that they are able to take in from the media. This goes for the companies providing the information to us as well. These companies run on budget plans, and if there is a lack of money in the budget, they are unable to provide certain information to society (Scotney).

Time is another hindering factor as it makes no difference how much media there is if people do not have time to receive the information. This is what makes radio and television so successful because they save a lot of time that you would normally have to spend reading a newspaper, magazine or article on the internet (Scotney). With the consideration of all these constraints this may create many difficulties for delivering the different channels of media to their desired target audiences. The purpose of this paper is to show how mass media influences society, and how it influences the sports within a society. With the constant growth of mass media many individuals have been offered tremendous opportunities. This paper will use the influences of mass media in the world of sports to show examples of these opportunities. Both the positive and negative effects of the mass media will be discussed, but I feel that the effects of mass media on sports have lead to a positive overall change.

Sports coverage started to be used in about 1850 when reporters would use typewriters to write about major sporting events. In the 1920’s, radio stations started to broadcast sporting events live and experimental television broadcasts were started in the 1950’s. Today, Sports Illustrated prints an average of three million copies per week. Sports have become an influential part of the entertainment industry. The media, particularly television, has become intimately involved in the growth, production, and control of modern sports (Gomery, 146). In our society sports are a major part of today’s culture, as well as popular music, movies and television shows. As a result of following sporting events, our society learns to love or hate the sports icons in our world. We as a society like to know as much information as possible about our sports heroes. The mass media is more then willing to provide us with this information because it attracts an audience. Although, sometimes it can be controversial as to whether or not they provide more information than they really should. The boundaries of an athlete’s personal privacy are denied because of their status in society. The history, family background, current lifestyle and so forth of professional athletes are almost always going to be researched. The media forces athletes to live as perfect citizens and scrutinizes anything that would be deemed inappropriate. This could lead to millions of lost dollars in sponsorships for an athlete. This is not just isolated to sports figures, as politicians and key public figures are in the spotlight as well.

Most major sports teams will pay reporters to report on their teams. By doing this it ensures them that the reports will focus on the positive aspects of their teams and have negative aspects toned down to some extent (Gutierrez). Individuals perceive that the media just simply reports the facts. In actuality they report a very structured version of the sporting event that someone has composed. This selective highlighting is not natural; it is based on certain criteria and media assumptions about what is considered to be “good television”. The presentation of sport thought the media, specifically on television, involves an active process of re-presentation. “What we see as the viewer is not the event, but the event transformed into something else – a media event.” (Eitzen, 98).

Sports media has its own language that at times is both ethnically and gender biased. When reporters are covering sports events they report differently for male or female players or black or white players. Most Caucasian players receive performance related comments directed towards them and more attention in replays and excuses for mistakes (Gomery, 155). However, a black player might be accused of not possessing the same skills and that is why they couldn’t perform. Commentators tend to portray female athletes as inferior to males. The media frequently provides a highly stereotypical feminized view in presenting women’s sporting achievements (Christopherson, 3). More attention is also focused on male sporting events. If women are portrayed less frequently than their participation merits and if stereotypical or negative themes are stressed when women are included, this may have an impact on the socialization of young children’s view of women in sport (Gomery, 159). For so many years women have been told that they could not play sports or at least not as well as men. Lately the media is starting to release this stance and are now focusing a little more time on women’s sporting accomplishments (Scotney).

I will exemplify these differences by examining the media’s societal influences in basketball. In the NCAA, the men’s final is known and presented to us by the media as the NCAA Final Four. The women’s final four however, is presented to us by the media as the NCAA Women’s Championship. In actuality they are both the final four but the media has just socially constructed the NCAA Final Four for men. This is the most viewed college tournament of the year. If the media differentiates them, then they can focus each tournament on the individual target audiences that they choose.

The media has some control over sports due to certain teams and organizations depending on them in order to survive financially. Without the media exposure, new franchises would certainly not last very long. The media attention on women’s basketball as previously mentioned has actually increased women’s participation in the sport and could be considered the main contributor to the expansion of women’s basketball. During major sporting events changes are sometimes made to appeal to the television audiences. An example of this would be the changes that are currently being looked at by the NHL to increase scoring and create a more interesting game.

Sponsorship in the sports world is another big issue. Without such a wide variety of mass media, companies would be much more reluctant to sponsor individual athletes. These companies pay unbelievable amounts of money to teams as well as to players to promote their products. It has also been seen lately that they may choose a player as a child and follow their career to help boost their sales. For example, Nike sponsored LeBron James before he even graduated from high school or was even drafted into the NBA (Gutierrez). With the media exposure that good players get today, these athletes are now seen as role models with their charismatic personalities and superior skills.

The media is a main source of capital for sports teams, both amateur and professional. They can usually have some say on when the games are going to be played and also decide which teams are going to receive the most attention. It is not by chance that Monday Night Football is on at 9 o’clock at night. This gives the advertisers the ability to reach their target audience. The players do not want to play on Monday nights but for the advertiser, you go where there is a better chance of reaching more people.

The careers of athletes can also be affected by the media. Dennis Rodman would not be nearly as famous as he is today if the media was not so involved with every part of his life. He loved the publicity and the media promoted his performance on and off the court to the public.

No forms of media took a major interest in sports until the end of World War II. At the time, people’s interest in sports was growing rapidly mainly because of the transformation from recreational to competitive sport. In the early 1950’s professional leagues were starting to develop across the United States as business men began to realize the profits to be made in professional sports (Media Influences). At the time the main forms of media in households across North America were radio and newspapers, as very few families had televisions and live coverage of games was seen by very few. The rules and the format of the game had to be changed to make the game more fair and interesting to fans at the same time. Many sports historians contribute basketball transformation over the years to the media involvement. Media coverage of sporting events such as basketball grew dramatically as more and more households had both radios and televisions (Scotney).

In professional sports, media coverage has increased the capacity of fans being able to watch the games and cheer on their teams even from their own home. People no longer have to attend games to be considered a fan of the sport. Money was no longer considered one of the constraints originally mentioned, to the enjoyment of sports.

The media could take full responsibility for fostering the growth of basketball throughout the world. Most schools and public recreational facilities provide basketball courts, which show the growth of the sport. This is a direct result of the media exposure the sport has received throughout history (Gutierrez).

Defining sport leads down an interesting path to mass media and consequently the effect it has had on sport. In a world where technology is becoming an increasingly detrimental part of the daily life and routines of the average person, it is necessary to look at the role mass media plays with sports. It is not a coincidence that audience oriented newspapers developed about the same time sports leagues began. Since then radio, telegraph, television, tapes, films and now computers are used to advertise, promote and sell sports, sports products, and the players themselves.

Reference List

Christopherson, N., Janning, M., & McConnell, E.D. (2002). Two Kicks Forward, One Kick Back: A Content Analysis of Media Discourses on the 1999 Women’s World Cup Soccer Championship. Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.

Eitzen, Stanley. (2001). Sport in Contemporary Society. New York: St. Martin’s. 6th Ed.

Gomery, Douglas. (1998). Media in America: The Wilson Quarterly Reader. Washington D.C.: The Woodrow Wilson Center Press.

Gutierrez, Israel. (1999). Caught in the Net. Retrieved from http://www.alligator.org/edit/issues/99-fall/991103/sports.html

Media Influences. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/pe/history/influencesrev2.shtml

Scotney, Sean. (n.d.) Online Sports: Winning on the Web. Retrieved from http://www.speech.sir.com/academics/gibbs/students/busn6080-su-2001/scotney.html

Whitney, Frederick. (1995). Mass Media and Mass Communications in Society. Pennsylvania: McGraw-Hill.



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