ABSTRACT

The ownership and control of the ‘means of communication’ (Williams 2005) within which contemporary mega sport is organizationally entangled and delivered as a product for global consumption has increasingly become a matter of private monopoly interest. The symbiotic relationship between monopoly ownership and advertising has meant that live transmission of certain key sporting events and tournaments has been kept available to either free-to-air television or minimal pay-TV access. The precariousness of such arrangements, understandably, is of concern to critical media academics. To those academics dedicated to the social, political and cultural study of sport, the impact of media control on sporting cultures and their relationships with citizenries, in various national settings, is an attendant point of concern. This chapter will consider the cultural signifi cance of media/sport via an engagement with the spirit of Britain’s fi rst outstanding theorist of media, Raymond Williams (1921-1988). Writing in the magazine The Listener in 1968, Williams remarked, “Sport, is of course one of the very best things about television; I would keep my set for it alone” (Williams 1989, p. 34). Would Williams repeat this view today? In attempting to answer this question, this chapter addresses sport not only in relation to television and ‘social shaping’ (Jones 2006, p. 168), but also considers how the sporting event is actually watched by enthusiasts (like Williams himself) and, in relation to this consideration, assesses the cultural status aff orded to sport by its audience. The chapter focuses on a sport of special appeal to Raymond Williams, namely association football/soccer.1