chapter  6
20 Pages

Sports Media: Beyond broadcasting, beyond sports, beyond societies?

Media is both an umbrella and a plural term. It brings together a range of communicative technologies, institutions, audiences, practices and texts while reaffirming that the constituents of this implied singular entity are, instead, multiple, different and irreducible. So, when discussing sports media, we should take into account the full extent of the “media sports cultural complex” (Rowe, 2004) as it ranges across newspapers and magazines, videos and films, books and blogs, radio stations and websites. Each of these forms of media sports inter-relates in constructing the vast cultural edifice that shadows the image horizon of all the world’s citizens, whether by consent or through sheer cultural ubiquity. But one medium, television (Real, this volume, Chapter 2), towers above all others when imagining media sports. Broadcast television has been the most powerful force in sports economics and

culture for over a half a century. As a result, scholars have devoted considerable attention to television’s underwriting of sports, influence on its forms and reception contexts, and carriage of social ideologies. However, despite the spectacular (though intermittent instances of ) global-scale audiences at events such as the World Cup of association football and the Olympics, the spread of new technologies, cultural arrangements, and societal flows suggests that broadcast television is now under challenge and, at the very least, undergoing a major transitional, if not transformative phase. Broadcast television’s once unrivalled capacity to monopolize “live action” for dispersed audiences, the primacy of the physical contest in media representations of sports, and the place of sports TV’s imagery within recognizable socio-cultural formations are all to some degree in question (Leonard, 2009; Boyle & Whannel, 2010). But if the era of TV sports hegemony is passing into history, the regime that will replace it – if any – is by no means yet installed.