Media Influence On Sport Essay

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. “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 according to mass media. 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, because capturing the inside of the sports world is critical. Apart from
the competition among the various forms of media there is also competition among
each form of the media example Fox network competes with all television networks
for a market share of the audience. Network companies such as Fox buy the
contracts to show American football games for millions of dollars, which they in
turn make their money back through companies wanting to advertize on their
network during these football 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 tradegy to sports and entertainment.

From a sociological stand point in today’s society sex and violence attracts
audiences. By examining the internet, which is the newest form of mass media
internet companies that provide the most outrageous websites with sex and
violence are the most watched websites. Media Companies compete with each other
on those levels by looking at what attracts the most attention and trying to
provide it. Although the audience are the ones who decide what information is
important and this decides what groups of mass media get the most attention the
influence of the media in today’s world really guides them in helping them make
that decision without their actual knowledge. If your story isn’t important to
the audience then your media is taking up space, so therefore you either have to
produce what the audience wants or you will not be able to survive in the
competitive world of mass media. In order to survive in society you must offer
the general public information they are interested in. Money also puts
constraints on what an individual gets to know. If a person can’t afford to buy
a television that is restricting them on the knowledge that they are able to
consume. Also, companies run on budget plans, and if there is no 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 many
more, to follow. But with limited money in the budget plans, an audience’s view
also becomes very limited, because if the media doesn’t have the money to
produce the information that is information that a society loses out on. 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. With the
consideration of all these constraints this may create many difficulties for
mass media, these difficulties will have a reflection on society as well. In
media these constraints are known as noise. “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 27). Also
agents of social control exist. 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 were barely existent
except in print. But with all the developments in technology mass media
continually progresses, 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). With the constant production of commercials and varying types of
entertainment there seems to rising controversy throughout society. 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. These
results of the mass media in India have had many positive effects on their
society. But 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 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.

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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 individuals have been offered tremendous
opportunities. This paper will use the influences of mass media in the world of
sports, too show examples of these opportunities. Both the positive and negative
effects of the mass media will be outlined. The first reported Sports Coverage
appeared on May 5 1733. Reporters used to report on the philosophy. Electronic
media: (i.e. type written stories), started to be used in 1850. In the 1920’s
radio stations started to broadcast sporting events live. Experimental
Television broadcast where started in the 1950’s. Sports Illustrated prints an
average of three million copies per week. “Sport has become an influential
part of the entertainment industry, the mass media (particularly television)
have become intimately involved in the growth, production, and control of modern
sports.” ( McPherson 146). “The term mass media provides information
describes the process that allows people to communicate rapidly and
simultaneously with a large percentage of the population.” ( McPherson
146). In our society sports are a major part of a new mass culture, as well as
popular music, movies and television shows. Most people watch sports through the
television. People also follow sport thought magazines and radio. From watching
the television programs and reading the reports our society learns to love
and/or hate the sports icons in our world. The media does not seem to hold
anything back. Media coverage is not just limited to professional sports. They
cover amateur sports as well. These sports are covered at a local, provincial
and national level. Coverage is from anywhere from little league to college
sports. We as a society like to know all the information about our sports
heroes. The mass media is more then willing to provide us with this information.

Sometimes they provide more information then most of us want to know. The
boundaries of people’s personal privacy are denied. They find out the history,
family background, current lifestyle etc. of these players. There are not to
many other people in our society that this happens to. These players most feel
that there privacy is being invaded almost all of the time. This is not just
isolated to sports figures, politicians and key public figures are in the
spotlight as well. Most major sports clubs pay reporters to report on their
teams. By doing this it protects them so that the reports will report on the
positive aspects of their teams. The negative aspects are toned down to some
extent. They need to provide some negative aspects because if they didn’t they
then a lot of people may lose interest. An example of this is that you don’t see
as many highlight reels of home runs anymore. They want to promote the game as
more of technecical product The media chooses what they report or do not report
they enhance certain act and downplay others. People perceive the media as just
report in the facts. In actuality they are report a narrated story that someone
has composed. As Alan and John Clarke said: “It selects between sports for
those which make “good television”, and it selects within a particular
event, it highlights aspects for the viewers. This selective highlighting is not
“natural or inevitable – it is based on certain criteria, certain media
assumptions about what is ‘good television.” But the media not only select
they also provide us with definitions of what has been selected. They interpret
events for us, provide us with frameworks of meaning in which to make sense of
the event. To put it simply, television does not merely consist of pictures, but
also involves a commentary on the pictures-a commentary which explains to us
what we are seeing …these selections are socially constructed-they involve
decisions about what to reveal to the viewers. The presentation of sport thought
the media involves an active process of re-presentation: what we see is not the
event, but the event transformed into something else-a media event.” (
Eitzen 98-99). Sports media has it’s own language. This language is both
ethnically and gender focused. When people are reporting sports events they
report differently male then female players, black then white players, just for
some examples. Most white players receive performance; related comments directed
towards them. On the other hand black players receive negative comments and also
you also hear negative comments about their level of play. “White players
received more attention in replays and more excuses for mistakes (e.g., he is
playing with an injury)” (McPherson 155). While a black player they might
say doesn’t possess the skills and that is way they couldn’t compete. The media
portray women in the sports society as not being the equal to men. More
attention is focused on male sporting events. If an advertiser is going to fund
a female basketball game and or a male basketball game then the money would be
mainly directed the towards the men’s game. The advertiser has to go to the
event that is going get the most viewers. “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 girls’ and boy’ view of women’s sport.”(McPherson
155). If we do not promote young girls to follow their dreams, not only in sport
but: in every part of life then they may be missing out on something. When we do
this it may discourage young girls to play sports. Because for so many years our
society has told women and girls that they could not play sports or at least
could not play them as well as men. This theory has been disproved over the
years. The media is starting to release this and they are now focusing more time
then they did to women’s sport. They are televising women’s basketball, tennis,
golf, etc. more often. The part that still needs to be focused on again is the
commentary. People would suggest that all commentary is equal i.e., black and
white athletes as discussed earlier. Commentators tend to portray female
athletes as the lesser/weaker of the two genders. In women’s basketball gender
is marked both verbally and graphically. The NCAA final four is a prime example;
the men’s final is known as and presented to us by the media as “NCAA FINAL
FOUR”. Where as the women’s final four is presented to us by the media as
“NCAA Women’s Championship”. In actuality they are both the final four
but the media has created “NCAA FINAL FOUR”. This (the men’s final
four) is the most viewed college tournament of the year. If they differentiate
them then they can focus on the markets they want to. The men’s championship
they are going to focus mainly on males 18 to 22 years of age. This way they can
gear their advertising accordingly. The media control sport in the fact that the
teams and organizations depend on the media in order for them to survive
financially. During major sporting events changes are made to appeal to the
television audiences, some of these changes are; sudden death games, scheduling
evening games, broadcasters to entertain instead of just report facts, TV time
outs, more media representative at Olympics then competitors. Sponsorship in the
sports world is huge, Companies pay unbelievable amounts of money to teams as
well as to players to promote their products. These companies may choose a
player as a child and follow their career to help boost their sales in their
products. The media helps create a link between the players or athletes and
their audience by showcasing these athletes in programs even outside their
playing arenas. The players are presented as gods or icons to the audience which
makes these sporting events even more popular. Promoters use marketing ploys
“like to be best you need to wear what the best wears”. Children then
go to their parents and express the desire for these items. The mass media are
the main sources of capital for sports teams, college as well as professional.

They dictate when and where games are going to be played and also decide which
teams are going to receive the most attention by the audience who are the
viewers. It is not by chance that “Monday Night Football” is on at
that particular time because . This gives the promoter the choice to focus on
their niche market. I’m sure the players don’t want to play on Monday night at
9:00pm. If you are a promoter it doesn’t matter to you, you go where the money
is. In a sense this make the players puppets for the promoters. Careers of
players can also be affected by the mass media. Dennis Rodman would not be the
person he is today if the mass media didn’t dive into every facet of his life.

He loves the show and the media promotes his performance on and off the court to
the public. 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.


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