Essay, Research Paper
Sport Like a Mixed Form of Communication
Understanding of mass communication without attention to sport coverage is practically impossible. Through the mass media, millions and even billions of viewers, listeners and readers are brought into the experience of a great sports performance. The emotional power of sports performance enchanted by slow-motion video and musical sound track, can take you to breath away or bring tears to you eyes.
There are a lot of massive spectacles like the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA play-offs, the Olympic Games, College Football Games. Each of these sports activities takes in many millions of dollars from television revenues and dominates national sports news for days or weeks.
Media sports provide dominant myths in modern culture. Rituals are the repeated activities that act out myths. There are a lot of important rituals for people who found of sports activities. One of the such rituals come to dominate for a few hours or days or weeks the life of traditional village, so the televised football, baseball, basketball, hockey, or other major game takes on central importance for whole communities and regions during specific periods. Fans schedule their lives on certain days, especially Saturdays or Sundays, around televised sports.
The economic impact of media sports illustrates the central importance to our culture. For example: Statistics shows that Americans spend more than 60 billion of dollars annually on sports (it is between 1% or 2% of Gross National Product). Being a star in media sports in America means receiving a temporary income in 6 or 7 figures.
Personal Identification and Heroes
Sports fans often identify themselves with teams, players, and regions so that outcome takes on personal significance to them. Social psychology has pointed out how personal identification with a group occurs when the self-identity of a person takes on the frame of reference of the larger group. As gratification research points out, we use media to serve both cognitive and affective needs. Sports fans identify with “their” teams or stars and, through media, acquire information and understanding about them and feel emotional identification with them.
Media sports center attention on specific individuals, who through this process, become larger-than-life heroes and models for successful conduct. Sports today in our mass-mediated culture provide superstar archetypes to spur the imagination and dominate the ideals of youth and adult alike. Sport lefts fans see not only great deeds but also the deflation of heroes in their bad moments, the failure of authority in crisis – a reassuring experience for common people all too aware of their own limitations. Subconsciously we may reflect, “ If Mike Tyson or Wade Boggs or Pete Pose cannot control his personal life, perhaps my life is not so bad. Sports pages today examine the heroes in details, warts and all, outlining details of greedy contracts, after-hours drug abuse, and sex lives, but sports heroes and their motivating power over others live on.
The influential French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss (1967) argued for the importance of identifying the fundamental two-sided conflicts, or binary oppositions in sports.
One of such two-sided conflicts is a distinction between individual and team sports and typical gender patterns in sport. Female sports have traditionally been individual. Tennis, swimming, ice-skating, golf, and gymnastics come to mind. But the dominant media sports have been team sports – baseball, basketball, football, and hockey, among others. Women participate in individual sports, which are less dominant in male-managed media.
Another binary distinction is the conflict between sport players and investors. Who should receive the greater rewards, those who invest the capital in the business side of sports or those who involved in sport playing? With television dollars creating inflation, both sides can become absurdly wealthy, but players often for only brief periods of time. The material reality is that one group labors and one group invests capital, and their interests conflict.
The other obvious binary opposition in media sports distinguishes between playing and spectating. Classically, sports were heralded for all their benefits of health and fitness to participants. But in the twenties century, media have made vicarious access to sports the more prevalent and accessible form of involvement. This mediated form of involvement in sport eliminates the benefits for physical health and reduced them to psychic, emotional, and social benefits. While these benefits exist, they leave the possibility of fans leading an objectively passive and unhealthy life-style while, fantasizing themselves into a false self-image of action, vigor, and victory.
Another distinction can be made between live attendance in the arena and media participating. Arena attendance carries with it an environment of crowds, expressive behavior of cheering and booing, and physical movement to and at the game. Media participation, however, isolates the fan from the event and its crowd. The two experiments are very different. Fans sometimes make efforts to combine them. One can find spectators in arenas with radio earplugs, binoculars, and television sets to add on the media experience.
Another valuable distinction is clarification of differences between print and electronic forms of sports communication media. Electronic media allow instantaneous, real-time participation in a sport through television or radio. Print media allow delayed re-presentation of sports events and facts through newspapers, magazines, and books. In fact, the various media mutually support each other in sports coverage, and fans usually follow a mixture of electronic and print media.
Different studies and analysis opens up many of the inner dimensions of the experience of sports and media. Understanding sports, media, and spectacle reveals both details and generalizations about our culture and our general humanity.