How The Media Has Transformed Sport Media

Essay add: 14-06-2017, 17:29   /   Views: 7

It is indeed a renowned fact that in the present era, media have transformed sport. However, there was no television, computers and as many published papers before the 1950s as today. Back in those days sports news was given less interest to than literature, magazines, cinema, etc. Even now, apart from usually common television and radio, there exists a wide variety of media itself, like internet, computer games, digests, etc.

In the 19th century, information related to sports was available at a narrow spectrum, which became very broad in the 20th and the 21st century. Now, with the help of media, live broadcasts have become very famous among people from all walks of life. Mass communication and mass media came into existence and became popular by the end of 19th century. Examples would be; print media, cigarette cards, cinema newsreel, radio and the latest television era. Then came the tabloid revolution, new men's magazines, advertising and electronic media like satellites.

In the era of print media, social commentators played an important role, new guides and sports magazines began to be published and 'graphic revolution' of 1961 as referred to as by Boorstin. Pulitzer established the first 'sports department' in New York Times in1883 (McChesney 1989: 53). Sports news has been dominated by national newspapers and has outsourced multi sports magazines (Horne, 1992). As for the cigarette cards; they were invented in France. Cinema brought movement and hence sporting action to the audience for the first time (Aldgate 1979: 17). In Britain, the first cinema performance held in public was in 1896, and there came into being around 4000-5,000 cinemas by 1914.

Radio had its own advantages. It was a medium that provided listeners with immediacy. 1922 is the year when this happened in the UK and thus British Broadcasting Corporation was formed. After the formation of BBC in 1927, sport broadcasts became a well known element in the schedules (see Whannel 1992). Next development was in the form of the television; which was established in the 1930s but received more recognition in the 1950s to 1970s. By 1965, BBC had established Sportsview (1954), Grandstand (1958) and Match of the Day (1962) as regular programmes, ITV had launched World of Sport, and in the USA, ABC Sport had launched Wide World of Sport, with its subtitle "the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat", and adopted its slogan "up close and personal" (Powers 1984: 118-21). These developments transformed the nature of sport stardom. Stars and their actions, their words, and their appearances achieved familiarity. In particular, television shifted focus onto the face of reality.

Then arrived the time of tabloid revolution and new men's magazines; followed by advertisement. Television, together with advertising played a vital role in turning sport stars into famous, looked up to people. Advertisers found that the importance of global recognition of stars was achieved to a high degree. Finally, the satellite and electronic media came into existence and brought with it the fastest and the easiest way to access all kinds of news on the internet via satellite. The latest electronic media of the 20th century is contributing largely towards circulating images and information about sports and sport stars. Clearly, sport stars have received a great deal of audience appeal, and sport plays a largely considerable part in the whole motto of the media.

In this essay, we will look for and discuss the various ways and processes by which all the above-mentioned media have transformed sport and how sport stars have achieved this high level of fandom. Also, the essay will discuss the importance of sports coverage for television, that is, how covering for sports events would prove helpful and significant for the economic attributes of the television.

The Ways in Which Media Have Transformed Sport

The invention and recognition of television spans over 2 decades; from 1960s to 1980s in which it was recognised as a global medium of communication and broadcasting. From the 1970s, the most watched shows on television were related to sports apart from other shows. Broadcasts were made on Olympic Games and Football World cups as well. Even today, though internet is regarded as the easiest medium, it is only television that provides people with the comfort of watching live broadcasts at their homes, all over the world at the same time. These events are not just displayed on television.

Subsequently, all events and news get published in newspapers, magazines and daily and weekly reports. In the various ways in which television has affected a number of patterns of life, its effect on sports has been quite a significant one. Television, in the words of Scannell and Cardiff, "shared rituals of national corporate life." It is famous because it not only provides immediacy and live viewing opportunities, it also removes uncertainty as viewers can both see and hear what is being run on the television. Before the arrival of television, a lot of things were different. The media before television also provided the public with considerable knowledge. However, sports, of course is exceptional. One can not see the live transmission on radio, or hear the commentators' comments in newspapers, but televisions provide both. In addition to this, you do not have to go out to watch television. The services are available at your own home.

Sport has evolved over a long period of time, but in ancient Greece, spectator sport was encouraged centuries ago as well. The emergence of modern professionalized sport was seen near the end of nineteenth century. This was the same period when the world saw mass media emerge in the form of brand-based advertising, and retail chain stores. Associated Press established a sports department with a staff of twelve people (McChesney 1989, 56). In Britain, the radio service was first seen and heard in 1922. As a result, six radio and electrical companies combined to form the British Broadcasting Corporation. However, four years later, BBC was transformed into a public corporation. The percentage of U.K. radio households started from 10 percent in 1924 and reached up to a high 71 percent in 1938 (McChesney 1989, 59).

As television emerged in the 1930s, it combined the immediacy and uncertainty of live sport, domestic context of radio, the drama and spectacle of newsreel. It brought sport in the form of live pictures and movies to the home. In Britain, television was launched in 1936 and relayed numerous sport events before the year 1939. With the outbreak of war, television was suspended in 1939. However, it was launched again in 1946 after the war, and it gave rise to the well-being of electronics industry. The first event to be broadcast on television was London Olympic Games in 1948.

By the year 1950 there were 5 million television sets in the world. At that time, only Great Britain, USA and USSR has established broadcasting systems as opposed to the rest of the world. Melbourne Olympics of 1956 brought with it the launch of television in Australia. Slowly and gradually, television became more popular and by 1970, live color pictures were famous all through the world, with 250 million sets in 130 countries (Green 1972). Television captured the first sub-four-minute mile by Roger Bannister in 1954 and the 1953 Football Cup Final in which veteran England winger Stanley Matthews gained the winners medal (see Whannel 2002a, 2005b, 2006). The requirements of sport broadcasting were a significant stimulant to technical advancement. In the early 1950s, the Eurovision network of permanent landlines was formed across Europe. (Ross, 1961, 128-39).

During the 1980s and 1990s, television underwent further innovations and advancements. At that point, Videos, DVDs, computers, and computer games provided entertainment in various forms. By the 1990s, digital rotation of still images was brought forward. Sport events that win audiences around the world are the football World Cup and the Olympic Games.

Economic Significance of Sports Coverage for Television

With the technological innovations and advancements also came an economic innovation. A new source of revenue was brought about by the invention and use of television. Subsequently, by making television attractive, sponsors and advertisers saw opportunities for themselves and were attracted. This is turn brought with it new sources of revenue for the field of sport. This revenue increased with an alarming extent in the 1960s. In 1964, British Broadcasting Corporation 2 came into existence. This further increased the incentives and gave the Corporation an opportunity to further increase its revenue by increasing broadcasts.

In the beginning of 1960s the television fees for rugby, cricket, show jumping athletics, and tennis were between £1,000 and £2,000 per day in the United Kingdom. As the audience increased in number, competition between different channels increased and thus the fee also increased. The television rights for the baseball World Series cost $6 million 1951 to 1956, but as a result of this competition, the amount increased to a height of $15 million in the period from 1957 to 1962.

Cameras were seen as a major source of attraction for upcoming sponsors of sports events. The only sponsored event on British television was the Whitbread Gold Cup in 1957 (Wilson 1988, 157). The ban imposed on cigarette advertising on television in Britain in 1965 and in the United States in 1970 brought an increase in direct sport sponsorship of Tobacco Companies.

The amount included for sport sponsorship in Britain was £1 million in 1966 and grew to an extent of £16 million by 1976 and £100 million by 1983 (Howell 1983, 9-10). Since sponsorship was found to be useful for marketing and to establish an image, tobacco and alcohol sponsors were joined in larger numbers by financial institutions and banks.

Also, the close up camera views broadcast on television helped turn sport performers into stars and celebrities. Top performers achieved fame as recognizable stars due to television and their earning opportunities were increased to a considerable extent. The world famous boxer Muhammad Ali and footballer George Best were the pioneers of fame-by-television broadcast. England footballer Kevin Keegan earned £250,000 from advertising, endorsements, and other promotional activities in 1978 (Sunday Times, October 15, 1978, and November 16, 1980). In the late 1970s, Bjorn Borg, famous tennis player, made promotional contracts which brought him well over $500,000 a year (Kramer 1979, 271). Similarly, in the 1960s, Mark McCormack built his sporting empire the International Management Group (IMG) by representing the business interests of three top golfers. By 1983, IMG had twelve subsidiary companies and fifteen offices around the world, and its revenues were more than $200 million (McCormack 1984, 161). The sport associations started to be desperate to offer television anything as a remittance to gain some of its revenues.

Associations were formed for the purpose of getting airtime, but with less success. Sport governing bodies were ready to take steps in order to change the rules procedures because they wanted television's and sponsors' attention. Examples of it can be seen in the opening of tennis to professionals in 1968, the establishment of the Superbowl in 1967, and the rapid growth of one-day limited overs cricket from the mid-1960s. Also, English Football League agreed to a performance of live football tournament in 1983 on television and it also agreed to shirt advertisements. A few other related effects were the establishment of International governing institutions like the Olympic Games (1894), track and field (1912), tennis (1913), and football (1930). The impact of television has been in a number of ways. An impact was seen to be upon organized and planned sports activities and also on spectators, television audience and other social activities.


Hence, it is fairly clear that television has shown sporting activities a new era of recognition and attention. In the present era, major events, sports, and organizations ought to receive extremely high revenues. This high revenue has made sports more advanced and organized. Top sportsmen and sportswomen are becoming world renowned celebrities with competitive earning power.

Years ago, when the field of communication came into being, it was only written material with negligible news. With the advancement in all fields and walks of life, communication and transmission also gained popularity. Like every invention, television also gained fame over a long period of time. As years passed, slowly and gradually, more countries started to use this box of entertainment and knowledge and more people started to benefit from it.

The relationship of television and sports is an intense one. Sports was not given due attention in the past. Magazines, articles and radio were the only media that were used to broadcast news regarding sports. However, television brought a new ray of hope for all those associated with sporting activities. With the passage of time, people became aware of the easy and economical way in which television provided news and entertainment to its viewers.

Sports events started to be broadcast live on it and everyone could see the event as it happened, when it happened and how it happened. Today, although electronic instruments and satellite-based internet services are available, nothing has yet been able to overpower television. Sports stars, organizations and governments have earned and are still earning millions of dollars of revenue as a result of advertisements, sponsorships and broadcasts made on television.

Right now, it would not be wrong to say as Dayan and Katz stated in (Dayan and Katz 1992, 211) that media events have shifted the spectrum not only from the stadium to the living rooms but rather from the stadiums to living room, café and bar, center and peripheries, domestic and public places, and various venues. In a future in which people compose their own viewing schedules from a large range of instant sources, sporting events may be the only events which entice viewers to watch television.

"The BBC [radio] commentary teams came to be as much a part of the English summer as the BBC itself became part of English life, defining and shaping sporting values from the 1930s through to the 1960s, after which the increasingly sensational tabloid coverage of sport changed the terms of the debate".

(Richard Holt, in Holt and Mangan 1996: 63)

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