Academic journal article The Sport Journal

Information Technology and Sports: Looking toward Web 3.0

Academic journal article The Sport Journal

Information Technology and Sports: Looking toward Web 3.0

Article excerpt


Human play, as embodied in sports, is one of the most important expressions of human culture. It can be said that the games people play in a society are a reflection of the society as a whole. It can also be said that communication is the one dominant attribute that distinguishes human beings from every other species on the planet. Thus, the intersection of communication and sports in the human experience is an important one.

The Olympic movement is considered to be one of the largest social movements in human history. Nowhere else do the countries of the world gather in one place as they do during the Summer Olympic Games. While the peaceful gathering of the world's youth for sports competition is the embodiment of that intersection of sport and communication, this fact underscores the importance of the media in conveying Olympic values and ideals. In many respects, it is a relationship between the Olympic community and the media that allows the Games to be conducted on the scale that they are.

This presentation will briefly examine the evolution of this relationship from the founding of the Olympic movement at the height of the Industrial Revolution to the dawning of the Information Age. The discussion of the early days will necessarily be brief as the primary focus of this presentation is on the ways that technology, and more specifically the Internet, is driving the communications process and with it the dissemination of the human ideals. There will be a discussion of some of this new media and the presentation will conclude with some of the challenges before us, as we look to the future being wrought through technological change.

Evolution of Media

As has already been noted, the Olympic movement was founded at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century. The founder of the Olympic movement, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, authored many articles arguing for the establishment of a modern Olympic Games. An example of this effort was the publication of an essay in the "Review de Paris" in June 1894--on the very eve of the first Olympic Congress--setting out his vision for the establishment of a modern Olympic Games (Guttman, 1992).

Writing in the 19th century was a lengthy process, meaning that 19th century writers faced a much longer period than happens today, between researching, writing, and receiving payment for their work. Only the best educated individuals, usually from privileged backgrounds, had the time, expertise, talent, inclination, and financial backing to undertake this effort (2). Illustrated news weeklies or monthlies were among the primary means of communication and dissemination of the news in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This medium was also one that was particularly well suited to the audience that de Coubertin was trying to reach. The founders of the Olympic movement were well educated and well-to-do. Therefore, the message to this audience leant itself well to the tenets of the early games that they should only be open to amateurs; those who participated in sport as an avocation as opposed to a vocation (4).

However, the on-going Industrial Revolution was bringing about important society-wide changes that allowed sports to flourish. This included a population migration from rural to urban centers, increases in disposable income accompanying a rise in the middle-class and eventually, more leisure time that allowed more recreational activities, among them participation in and the viewing of sports events.

Concurrent with the rise in the middle class was a wider distribution of newspapers, many of which began to include sports coverage. Sports coverage did, in fact, become one of the ways that newspapers in larger metropolitan areas competed with each other. As interest in sports generally, and local teams particularly, began to appear in newspapers, the amount of space given over to this content expanded over time. …

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