Theorizing the Sports-Television Dream Marriage: Why sports fit television so well
For more than 50 years, television has been the primary vehicle through which Americans and much of the world access sports events. During this period, both television and sports have grown continuously in size and inﬂuence – expanding their audiences, increasing their proﬁts, and occupying a central position within culture and society (Real, 2005). What are the formal elements that constitute television that map so closely with the elements that constitute sports events? Formal theories of what makes television “television” work from concepts of light, movement, and sound often combined with concepts of liveness, narrative structure, genre conventions, and the pleasure of the text. Even within the new mix of digital media, television retains its primacy in American lives, with Nielsen (Petterle, 2009) reporting increases in hours of television viewing along with increased DVR and online access. From the beginning, sports have seemed a perfect match for television. What do we ﬁnd when we deconstruct the components of this arranged marriage?