Sydney 2000, Olympic Sport and the Australian Media

By Lenskyj, Helen Jefferson | Journal of Australian Studies, September 1999 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Sydney 2000, Olympic Sport and the Australian Media


Lenskyj, Helen Jefferson, Journal of Australian Studies


Competitive sports play a central role in the everyday lives of significant numbers of Australians, whether they are active participants, spectators or supportive family members. As in most western countries, Australia's mass media reflect and reinforce this key component of popular culture. It is hard to imagine a newspaper or news broadcast that does not include coverage of sporting events. Given sport's everyday, taken-for-granted nature, the task of developing a critical analysis of sport media is all the more difficult.

A critique of Olympic sport presents special challenges, especially at this point in Australia's history with Sydney 2000 and the unprecedented amount of taxpayers' money and interest invested in Australian athletes' anticipated successes. Given the longstanding presumption that sport is apolitical (`let's not bring politics into sport'), critics of the Olympics are likely to receive a chilly reception, especially from those whose gender, class and race privileges are shored up by current sporting practices and/or by the sport industry.

The Sydney 2000 slogan `Share the Spirit' exemplifies this view of sport as an unqualified good. It suggests the spirit of Australia: the liberal myth of upward mobility through hard work and a national identity cemented by largely uncritical support for all competitive sporting endeavour.(1) The slogan also evokes the Olympic spirit: `The pursuit of sporting excellence'. Despite historical and contemporary evidence to the contrary -- for example, the 1936 Nazi Games, the Munich massacre of 1972 and the 1996 Coca Cola Games -- the Olympics have long been celebrated as a purely amateur sporting contest uncontaminated by commercialism or politics and the legacy of this image remains in evidence in much of the public and media rhetoric.

This article focuses on the ways in which the Australian media shape public opinion concerning Olympic sport in general and the Sydney 2000 games in particular. I present a deconstruction of Australian media treatment of Olympic-related issues in the first half of 1996 which was the crucial period leading up to the Atlanta games. The major print media source was the Sydney Morning Herald; other popular print media and television reports were also monitored.

`Manufacturing consent', a term first used by Walter Lippman in 1921, is central to the analysis of the political economy of the mass media developed by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky.(2) Their insights, together with Chomsky's 1989 collection of essays, Necessary Illusions, provide the theoretical framework used here.(3) Consistent with the neomarxist explanations of power exercised through ideological control rather, Chomsky's propaganda model argues that the media reflect the consensus of corporate elites. State managers will not be protected from the criticisms from the powerful corporate sector whose members may in fact use the media as a platform for an anti-government position.

In the Australian context, long-standing receptivity to anti-government sentiment, concern over unemployment and the economy, hostility to organised labour and generalised white opposition to Aboriginal activism all help to create fertile ground for pro-corporate media messages. The Sydney 2000 project has been relentlessly promoted in the media as an opportunity to boost the economy through tourism, employment and private sector investment. Critics of olympism, especially the Aboriginal leaders who called for boycott by Black nations, are scapegoated as `hijacking' Sydney 2000.(4)

The Sydney Morning Herald played an important role in generating support for Sydney 2000.(5) Coverage of the bid process was primarily in the hands of Herald journalist Sam North. Freelance journalists who attempted to `blow the whistle' on the questionable budget figures received only limited space in the major newspapers.(6) In 1993 a Herald editorial strenuously objected to the state government's alleged attempt to `straitjacket' the media.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sydney 2000, Olympic Sport and the Australian Media
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.