History of Sports and the Media Essay

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Sports and the media are often regarded as a ‘match made in heaven,’ but their relationship is prone to some disharmony over their mutual standards of news 595 power. As products of modernity, these institutions have developed a close interdependence since the mid-nineteenth century, with sport providing popular content for the media, which in return gave sport high visibility and substantial income, especially after television supplanted first print and then radio as the principal medium of sport communication.

Television helped make sport into a key component of many national cultures, a process which first took shape in Britain and in turn became the major global phenomenon that is most dramatically evident during events like the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup. Broadcast television remains powerful, but networked digital media sport via the Internet now offers enhanced flexibility and interactivity that, through social media platforms and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), promises to transform the mediated experience of sports.

There is continuing concern over the corporate media’s capacity to dominate sports culture, with the rising commercial value of premium sports progressively reducing the role of public service broadcasters and commercial free-to-air networks as subscription (‘pay’) television has acquired broadcast rights and required audiences to pay to watch. For some critics, ‘cultural citizenship’ rights of free TV sport viewing are the subject of contention over audience exploitation.

Others raise concerns over possible impacts of economic factors on media sports texts. Sports are shaped as spectacles by the media to engage audiences, becoming increasingly ‘telegenic’ as rules and event timing change to accommodate the media, and with greater emphasis on entertainment gossip and celebrity. The qualities, meanings, and uses of these media sports texts and audience interaction with them are of crucial interest to critical media sports scholars, who analyze the ways in which these seemingly innocent, pleasurable texts have embedded within them damaging ideologies, including sexism, homophobia, racism, ethnocentrism, class prejudice, excessive nationalism, and xenophobia.


  1. Hutchins, B. & Rowe, D. (2012). Sport beyond television: The Internet, digital media and the rise of networked media sport. London: Routledge.
  2. Pedersen, P. M. (ed.) (2013). Handbook of sport communication. London: Routledge.
  3. Rowe, D. (2011). Global media sport: Flows, forms and futures. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

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