Sport, Media and Society

Sport, Media and Society

Sport, Media and Society

Sport, Media and Society

Synopsis

Sports are an integral component of today's media, from prime time television to interactive websites. This book is a theoretical and methodological guide to analyzing sports in their diverse mediated forms. Students of media are taken through techniques of analysis for film, TV, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, spaces such as stadia and museums, and the internet. The ambiguous and shifting cultural politics of sport are explored through original, researched case studies, drawn from across the UK, USA and beyond. The book encourages students to engage critically with their own experience of the media and sports. It also encourages the development of an independent approach to analysis, and as such it will be an essential purchase for all students of media and sports studies students.

Excerpt

The 2008 Beijing Olympics attracted an audience of 4.7 billion over the seventeen days that the event was staged, equivalent to 70 per cent of the world’s population, making it the ‘Most Watched Games ever’ (Nielsen Media Research 2008: 1). The Games cost China £20 million to host and involved 10,708 athletes, 400,000 Chinese volunteers and 100,000 members of the army and police force (Elmer 2008). This global media spectacle merged the worlds of popular cinema and sport to create a breathtaking opening ceremony codirected by the acclaimed Chinese film-maker Zhang Yimou with a cast of 10,000 people. The resulting extravaganza used choreographed bodies, music and visual effects to construct an image of Chinese culture interwoven with the symbolism of sport for consumption by a global television audience. To begin to unpack the ways that events like the Olympics frame our understanding of bodies, nations, identities and values requires us to step back from the spectacle and analyse how it produces its effects in us. Sport has become such a powerful vehicle for mediating meanings and feelings that this is not a simple task. Every image of sport in the media evokes a wealth of associations, constructing a lens through which to view society. Inevitably, the picture we see conveys all the complexities of contemporary cultural politics.

In the build-up to the Beijing Olympics, another film director, Steven Spielberg, publicly withdrew from his appointment as artistic adviser to the opening ceremony by informing Hu Jintao, the President of the People’s Republic of China, that his commitment to overcoming ‘intolerance, bigotry, and the suffering they cause’ (Spielberg 2007: 1) was incompatible with China’s support for the Sudanese government, accused of genocide in Darfur. This was not the first time that the Olympic Games had been the stage for political protest. The spotlight of the world’s media on one sporting event provides a forum for political activists to convey their message to huge audiences. The photographs of the Black Power salute given by the African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the winner’s podium at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City present an example of the enduring nature of media records of Olympic protests. Similarly, pro-Tibet campaigners who used the Olympics in China to draw attention to their cause took advantage of the close connections between sport and the media. In March 2008, a member of the campaign group Reporters Without Borders disrupted the speech being given by the president of the Beijing Olympic Committee to the world’s assembled media at the lighting of . . .

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