Sport, Identities, and Consumption: The construction of sport at ESPN.com
As witnessed in previous chapters of this book, sport is a key site for the re/production of culture and associated ideological forms and practices, notably as a major site for identities and as a demarcating force for gender and sexuality (Duncan & Messner, 1998; Vertinsky, 2006). However, sport has also become a prominent component of the media, another highly inﬂuential cultural form. Indeed, sport in the media has experienced enormous growth over the last two decades, rendering the cultural impact of these combined forces highly signiﬁcant. As such, the unprecedented socio-cultural inﬂuence of the relationship between sport, culture, and media has been widely acknowledged and referred to as “the unruly trinity” by Rowe (2004). Nonetheless, a consequence of this relationship has been that sport has also
become mediatized, meaning it has eﬀectively become part of media culture (Hutchins, Rowe, & Ruddock, 2009). Indeed, the intersection of sport and media has become so blurred that we should now conceptualize “sport as media” (Hutchins et al., 2009, p. 89) or MediaSport (Wenner, 1998). Consequently, mediasport itself has become a site of ideological signiﬁcance as a powerful re/producer1
of cultural meanings and forms and entrenched as a valued intertextual referent within what Wernick (1991) describes as promotional culture (Meân, Kassing, & Sanderson, 2010). Consumption of mediasport is highly relevant for the performance of identities
(Horne, 2006) – a reﬂection of sports prominence as a site for male identity construction (Messner, 1988). The shared distinctiveness provided by mediasport consumption and its practices, knowledge, understandings, etc. (Mehus, 2005) is therefore linked to habitus (Bourdieu, 1978), imagined communities (Anderson, 1991), and interpretive communities (Lindlof, 1988). Yet, potentially diﬀerent impacts and inﬂuences are likely given diﬀerences across how mediasport forms are consumed (Mehus, 2005); although the increasing move towards integrated marketing means
that the same self-referential narrative (Jansson, 2002) will be consumed across related mediasport.