The Games through the NBC Lens: Gender, Ethnic, and National Equity in the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics

By Billings, Andrew C.; Brown, Chelsea L. et al. | Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, June 2008 | Go to article overview

The Games through the NBC Lens: Gender, Ethnic, and National Equity in the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics


Billings, Andrew C., Brown, Chelsea L., Crout, James H.,, III, McKenna, Kristen E., Rice, Bethany A., Timanus, Mary Elise, Ziegler, Jonathan, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media


No megasporting event (Eastman, Newton, & Pack, 1996) encapsulates the national zeitgeist in the same manner as the Olympic telecast, with 168 million Americans (Ryan, 2006) consuming at least a portion of even the Winter Olympic Games. In 2006, American viewers again predominantly relied upon NBC's edited, prime-time coverage to glean an understanding of what comprises the Olympic experience. Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC sports, argues that "the Olympics ... are the one thing that still does put (the whole family) together in front of the television set," (Billings, 2008, p. 160). Nonetheless, the Olympics represent more than merely the opportunity to cast a wide demographic net as Americans rely on the NBC Olympic telecast as a form of chronicling history, believing they are gaining understandings of cultural, social, and political processes within the sportscast (Billings & Angelini, 2007).

With such high stakes, there is pressure for NBC to deliver compelling stories and events. As a result, narratives are created to attain nontraditional sports fans who nonetheless watch the Olympics because of its transcendent nature. Such deviations from traditional sportscasting have prompted some to contend that an Olympic telecast "is not sports, it's storytelling" (Martzke, 2004, p. 7F), with this storytelling function expanding even more in 2006 to a total of 65 prime-time hours.

Researchers have found (Billings & Angelini, 2007; Billings & Eastman, 2002, 2003; Eastman & Billings, 19991 that the Olympic experience is different depending on the gender, ethnic, or nationalistic group in which an athlete is perceived to belong. However, only one study examined all three identity variables within a Winter Olympics, with Billings & Eastman (2003) urging subsequent analyses of Winter telecasts because (1) the 2002 Games were hosted in the United States in an immediate post 9/11 era, potentially affecting results and (2) "understanding what overt and covert choices NBC executives make in bringing the Olympics to our living rooms allows viewers to more critically evaluate the version of the Olympic event they are consuming" (Billings & Eastman, 2003, p. 384).

Given the lack of cohesive agreement or longitudinal trends in regard to the previous Olympic analyses, this examination of the 2006 Torino Winter Olympic Games helps to determine whether NBC's telecast can be deemed a fair reflection of the Olympic experience. In addition, the study contributes to a growing knowledge schema in which biases can either be viewed as pervasive (repeating in more than one Olympic telecast) or singular occurrences, perhaps influenced by the context in which a specific Olympic Games is contested. By doing so, valuable insight into the evaluative nature of sports media content can be provided.

Related Literature

Most relevant to the current study is the theory of media framing (Goffman, 1974), which examines how media gatekeepers reinforce frames that hold the power to shape audience perceptions, creating new and often atypical definitions employed within belief systems. Gitlin (1980) views framing as having three primary functions: (1) selection, (2) emphasis, and (3) exclusion. These three concepts are important in the context of this study because they can be directly applied to network announcing in Olympic broadcasts as NBC makes overt choices on what to show (selection), what to show habitually (emphasis), and what to avoid (exclusion). Thus, sports that receive a modicum of air-time (selection) in the Games (e.g., bobsledding) offer different opportunities for framing the story line as from those that receive saturating coverage (emphasis) throughout a prime-time telecast (e.g., figure skating) and certainly the events (and, respectively, the athletes) that receive no prime-time coverage (exclusion) at all (e.g., biathlon).

Gender in Televised Sport

Media coverage of megasporting events such as the Olympics allows audiences to reinforce prior gendered ideologies that may privilege entrenched notions of identity (Hallmark & Armstrong, 1999; Higgs, Martin, & Weiller, 2004). …

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

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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
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.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

The Games through the NBC Lens: Gender, Ethnic, and National Equity in the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access 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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.