, Research Paper
Influences of Mass Media in Sport
When communication is spread not just between two individuals but rather between tens of millions of people it is known as mass media. Mass media is known as the central nervous system of society and it functions as a medium of exchange of information across the globe. “Mass media has many different purposes, such as providing information, entertaining, persuading and also by carrying a vague general function of culture to millions of people.”(Frederick 18). In order for mass media to exist, there must be an audience. Today’s society is very selective; each receiver reacts differently through his or her own experience and orientation. Therefore, mass media exists in many different forms such as magazines, television, newspapers, internet, motion pictures, and even plays. Some examples of these forms of mass media are cosmopolitan magazine for young modern women and TSN television network for sports fans. With such extreme varieties of mass media existing in today’s societies there are three major constraints that seem to have an impressionable impact. These constraints can keep mass media very restricted. The major constraint of mass media is competition. Each form of mass media wants to be the one to target the audience, so therefore competition between mass media is very strong. The audience is the one who decides what information is important and this decides what groups of mass media get the most airtime. If your story isn’t important to the audience then your media is taking up space, so therefor you either have to produce what the audience wants or you will not be able to survive in the competitive world of mass media. Money also puts constraints on what an individual gets to know. If a person can’t afford to buy a television that that is restricting them on the knowledge that they are able to consume. Also, companies run on budget plans, and if there is know money in the budget, they are unable to provide information to a society. For every story that is produced, or every television commercial aired that could have been may more, to follow. But with limited money in the budget plans, an audience’s view also becomes very limited. Time is also another constraint because is doesn’t make a difference on the amount of media there is, there will only be twenty four hours in each day and not all a person’s time can be devoted to the effects of mass media. “All media within each other create noise, but with all the conflicting views, within lies a pattern, that shows some element of truth.” (Frederick 10).
The purpose of this paper is to state how mass media influences sport. The point that is being made in this paper is to show how mass media influences society, and how it influences sports within a society. To show how sport influences society, the game of basketball will be used.
Mass media is a reflection of society. “Mass media are essential agents of social change, and the specific kind of social change they are expected to help accomplish in the transition to new customs and practices, and in some cases, to different social relationships.” (D’seuza ). As a result of all these alterations a significant change in an individuals attitudes, beliefs, skills and social norms may result. Before the existence of radio, mass media was barely breathing but with all the developments in technology mass media is continually progressing, in many different directions. Different individuals are selective in the way that they let mass media influence their lives. For example, if a person decides to read a book they are getting to determine what aspects of the mass media they consume. “Books are the most individual of mass media.” (Frederick 156). But when a person watches television it is not as personal as reading a book, television is built into society. ” Television’s commercial and entertainment emphasis both reflect and affect the hedonistic and acquisitive nature of contemporary America.” (Frederick 264).
Mass media has many positive effects on many people. In countries such as India, mass media had made a tremendous change. People in rural communities are now able to communicate back and forth. Children of this country are now able to obtain and expand on their education, there are continuous improvements in their health care system and even modern agricultural techniques are being developed. Not everybody agrees that mass media has had a positive effect, some believe that it has damaged societies beyond repair. Since mass media has such an overwhelming influence on society, it may end up shaping the way and individual thinks. A good example of this is through advertising. “It is advertising, by and large, that supports the United States’ pervasive and extraordinary diverse mass media system. Advertising major focus is the better you display a commodity the more of the commodity you sell. The private sector gives the advertising industry the money to sell their products, and the company that offers the most capital is the one who gets their product aired. This is where one of our major constraints, known as, competition comes into play. Whatever company holds the most capital decides what we as a society get to consume. Advertisers will say that they produce what the consumer demands but on the other hand they are putting many limits on what we get to consume.
With the constant growth of mass media many opportunities for individuals have been arising. To show how mass media has opened many doors for many individuals, this paper will use the influences of mass media in the world of sports. Both the positive and negative effects of the mass media will be outlined.
Basketball was invented as a recreational sport, but now considered a universal sport. The introduction of this sport to the rest of the world started in the late nineteenth century as a form of recreation. Universities began incorporating this new recreational game into their sporting activities and were considered a male oriented sport. Women were not recognized at the time as basketball players even if they had an interest in the sport. Throughout the years basketball was transformed from a recreational sport into competitive sport and the players competed for a prize which in its early existence was a trophy or medal. The media in all forms such as television, radio, Internet and newspapers never took an interest in the sport until the end of world war two. At the time people’s interest in the sport was growing rapidly mainly because of the transformation of the sport from a recreational sport to a competitive sport. Universities and private businessmen who spotted the potential success of the sport invested their capital in building stadiums for athletes of the sport to compete. In the early 1950’s professional leagues were starting to develop across the United States as more private business men realized profits in relative terms meaning essentially the profits made were considered great in that time period. At the time the main form of media in households across the United States was the radio and newspaper few households had televisions and live coverage of games were seen by a few. The rules and the format of the game had to be changed to make the game more interesting to fans of the sport and 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. In fact the television a medium contributed the most to the transformation of basketball. The media has shaped the public’s opinion on basketball and through the media people seem to have a more profound interest in the sport of basketball. In the early years of basketball’s introduction to the western world the average age for men to participate in the sport was 17 years old now boys and girls start from the early age of 7 years old. The participation level in the sport was heavily influenced by the media, the sport which was label a male sport has now seen a drastic increase in women participation over the years due mainly to media attention and coverage. In the 1950’s and 1960’s athletes competing in the professional leagues of basketball did not even make enough money sometimes to support themselves and had to find other jobs part time to generate a better source of income. The main mental frame of mind of athletes in that sport in the 1950’s was winning. Today with media coverage and the average life span of a players career increasing most players in their early years try to make money through endosments and large contract deals and do not concentrate on the main goal of a competitive sport which is winning until the later stages of the career when money no longer becomes an issue.
In the NBA, media coverage has increased the capacity of “fans” for teams mainly due to the fact that the invention of television and other technological advancements which attempts to bring the games and players into the households. People no longer have to attend games to be considered a fan of the sport or cheer their favorite team or player. Fans of the sport can enjoy the entertainment of a basketball game in the pleasure of their home which in sense could be considered better than actually going to the game live because it is much cheaper than going to the game. Media coverage of basketball extends further than just the NBA to high school, NCAA (collegiate basketball) and both sexes male and female are showcased nowadays, although basketball was considered a male sport. The media attention on women’s basketball has actually increased women participation in basketball and could be considered the main contributor to the expansion of women’s basketball although women actually fought against sexism in basketball the media really helped their expansion efforts. The media has really expanded the game of basketball to international arenas and countries have now established their own leagues, which are actually competitive with American leagues such as the NBA and CBA. Media in all forms has created such an audience for the sport of basketball countries with established leagues compete for players with the NBA although they probably don’t get the best players as yet but the growth of these leagues show the potential to reach the status of the NBA some day. The media could take full responsibility of creating the growth of basketball in the world, most schools and government programs that provide recreation for children and adults build basketball courts, which shows the growth of the sport, which is as a direct result of media, attention.
To really evaluate the effects of the media in sport focusing on basketball the positive and negative aspects should be analyzed. Some of the positive and negative aspects of the media on the sport of basketball are mentioned below.
POSITIVE effects of the Media
1. The media has given the sport exposure to a much larger audience than just the people in attendance at the games. This means people who like to watch the sport but can’t afford to go to the games live can watch it in their home or listen or read the results of the game in newspapers or on the Internet which is also an extension of the media.
2. Media attention on the sport has created such a financial market for the sport universities and high schools have basketball programs which gives children who excel in the sport and cannot afford post secondary education a chance to attend university and a possible career in the sport. Athletes are now recognized for their abilities and are given scholarships and grants to attend university, which is a result of the media giving exposure to the sport.
3. The media has expanded the women’s equality struggles into the sport of basketball by giving women exposure in the sport as actual athletes and not their traditional roles women were thought of as the cheerleaders of the sport. Girls growing up can now identify with female athletes in basketball as role models and encourages them to participate in the sport.
4. The media caused players of the sport particularly on a professional and collegiate level to have discipline and morals mainly because of the exposure the media gives these players to “fans” which causes them to be considered role models.
5. Basketball’s growth on a financial aspect is a direct result of the media, in the past the salaries of athletes in the professional leagues are non comparative with the salaries of the athletes today, because the media provides a larger audience which provides revenue to teams and players get a share of this new wealth.
6. Basketball players are now seen as role models through the media and people try imitating their basketball heroes to the extent players with charismatic personalities and excellent basketball skills are paid to endorse products. Such basketball players such as Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Grant Hill to name a few are seen as heroes to people and given contracts to endorse products.
NEGATIVE effects of the Media
1. The media attention on players’ lives goes beyond the basketball court and goes into their private lives which gives players no privacy. The media forces athletes to live as almost a saint status and the media scrutinizes their every move. Professional athletes have limited public access because they are not considered normal citizens. Recently Kareem Abdul Jabbar was arrested for smoking marijuana while driving and the media exposed such a private aspect of his life to the general public. Michael Jordan was accused of having a gambling problem because he went to a casino and lost 2 million dollars which is a lot to an average person but pocket change to him.
2. Basketball players especially on the professional level are considered above the law as a direct result of the media because their status puts them into a different category than the general public. When Latrell Sprewell choked his coach his case was treated differently than a normal person doing that same crime his punishment was much less severe than a normal person.
There are other positive and negative effects of the media on basketball but it is actually worth noting the growth success of the sport is a result of the media attention it has received in the past and present. The media is a positive influence on sport in general and some negative effects must be present since nothing in the world is perfect without any side effects or negative effects.