Table of Contents
Nowadays, the media have a significant impact on the public consciousness, due to the ability to cover a broad audience quickly and to the fullest extent. The era of mass media has radically changed lives of people. Modern media completely changes the meanings of space and time, opens the borders between countries, uniting the information from the most remote corners of the globe in one network. Thus, the role of media in the modern world is enormous, and is manifested in almost all spheres of human activity, including the development of sports as such activities require a constant representation of its events in the media, as well as the interest of various categories of the population in obtaining the information.
Sports are generally perceived as an important component of modern culture, and its role as a factor of social development performs the function of the effective communication and educational tool. Relevance of the article is connected to the fact that modern sports competitions are not only the game but also a major commercial activity aimed at financial profit. Research topics elaborated in this field of expertise is comparatively small. In a few recent studies on the question, the authors claimed that sports have become an important sector of the economy. Commercial aspects of sports should primarily affect the process of increasing competition for entertainment, creating intrigue and excitement around sports events.
All these factors are necessary for attraction the attention of the media, as they earn money in the given sphere and popularize sports. In the era of globalization and new technologies sports cannot develop separately. Today, professional sports are mainly based on the active support of television. As a consequence, the purpose of the article is to observe how the media and technology influence the development of professional sports, which have managed to develop from a simple, though exciting activity into a kind of product, designed for a wide range of consumers.
The Background of Sports Development and Popularization
Modern media greatly enhance the entertainment potential and function of sports. Technological advances have already transformed the system of media and all spheres of intellectual activity to a great extent. Significant changes occurred in the structure of employment in connection with the improvement of production processes. The information environment (which is possible to be frequently referred to as media) has become a significant industry of free time spending, using such means as sports, theater, cinema, etc. During their free time, a reader, a listener, or/and a viewer occurs in the fierce competition between traditional media and between different sectors of mass culture.
There is an absolutely logical connection between the amount of free time and lifestyle. It occurs in case a person has more opportunities to realize his/her interests and aptitudes. Simultaneously, the role of the media is being enhanced. It is known to be not only one of the factors that organizes the rhythm and dynamics of human life, but also the field of leisure industry.
It should be noted that, initially, there were numerous types of amateur sports, and the future participants of the Olympic Games used to work in other areas. Nevertheless, in the days of antiquity, since the 5th century BC, a stratum of professional athletes has been formed. The system of local competition for the significant prizes allows members of the lower classes being involved in professional sports to ensure a prosperous existence.
Special distribution of professional sports first appeared in Hellenistic Greece, and in ancient Rome as a result of changes in the concept of physical education. Its primary aim was to prepare the general militia fighters. Nevertheless, later, sports turned into a spectacle, which alongside with any other kind of art, enlisted only the elected ones. Established in the 1st century BC the image of a professional athlete, namely a boxing fighter, shows how the concept of sports developed at that time. A sculptural portrait consisting of the harmonious shapes’ characteristics of classical Greek school transfers to naturalistic details (such as hypertrophied muscles of a professional soldier, a broken nose, broken ears and scars, as well as ‘sports equipment’, such as gloves with metal inserts in her arms).
After the decline of the importance of sports, which had begun in the Middle Ages, the sports revival has lasted till modern times. Moreover, professional sports are actively emerging at present time. Thus, the total number of fist fights’ fans in England of the 18th century consisted of the best craftsmen who earned on this activity. The first school of boxing in Britain was opened at the beginning of the 18th century, as well.
In the middle of the century the practice of manipulating results of battles has already begun. It was known to allow entrepreneurs to obtain large sums of money. Sports have been a lucrative business, and the more people were involved in it, the more profits were obtained. The Industrial Revolution and mass production contributed to the fact that more people began to have free time, which led to mass sports (Santomier, 2008).
At that time, the culture of entertainment and sports was rapidly spread, as well as the process of observing became a popular pastime for visitors and professional activities for athletes. However, since ticket sales were the main source of income for sports organizations, the broadcasting of sporting events on television led to their discontent (Lennartz, Wassong & Zawadzki, 2007). They believed that the broadcast of the competition will reduce the number of people at the stadium, considering that everyone had the opportunity to watch sporting events in their homes.
Practical Examples of the Media Usage in Sports
It can be said that the media organize the dynamically changing view of the world with the help of stable media topics system, which include, for example, such topic as politics, business, culture, weather, news, international and regional life, and sports (Beech & Chadwick, 2007). The importance of cultural factor should also be emphasized, as by the means of media different information, such as, for example, pictures of the world, can be represented. Consequently, it manifests itself in a set of permanent thematic components, which show specific characteristic of a peculiar country or culture.
In recent years, the competition in the international sports arena has significantly increased, and this is especially evident at the Olympic Games, where the world’s leading powers seek to use the full economic and political potential for the successful performance of athletes (Lennartz, Wassong & Zawadzki, 2007). The conquest of the highest sports awards is believed to be one of the most preferred options for all countries to declare itself at the international level.
High sports results is a reflection of socio-economic development of a particular country. To achieve these goals in the sports, it is important to apply the full potential of the state, including the economy, science, and human resource capital. Sports help win a positive image of the country in the international arena (Lennartz, Wassong & Zawadzki, 2007). Significantly increased athletic performance showed at the summer Olympic Games in China remains at a high international level. The US sports status, as well as the one of the UK and Germany has strengthened the positions (Williams & Chinn, 2010).
For example, in the middle of 1980s there was an experiment conducted: it consisted in the re-accessed point in the game that could affect the final decision (Lennartz, Wassong & Zawadzki, 2007). Specifications allowed broadcasting the sports events partially by cutting the uninteresting stages of the game. Such techniques were used to highlight the most successful Olympic Games. The development of cable and satellite technologies increased hours of sports programs, primarily through the establishment of the USA television network in 1975 and ESPN in 1979 (Lennartz, Wassong & Zawadzki, 2007). The two TV companies later expanded and began involving other programs. As a result, the USA television company finally started transferring most unsportsmanlike transmissions. In the 1990s, ESPN-2, “Fox Sports” emerged and other companies were charging for the revision of some television broadcasts, such as boxing matches (Lennartz, Wassong & Zawadzki, 2007).
Their development caused new changes in sports and television. Sports organizations started working very actively. Necessary financial resources used to come from the modern media-sport complexes, which were developed in Europe in 1970-80s and acquired its current appearance in the 1990s (Santomier, 2008). Nowadays, sports organizations that previously earned by selling tickets and sports paraphernalia, have obtained the right to broadcast matches, as well as the right of sponsorship. Moreover, they also started dealing with new media to further expand the audience and provide it with better quality (Williams & Chinn, 2010). Currently, the Internet allows implementing a range of services that are impossible or extremely difficult to provide for the entertainment of consumers.
It means that the obtaining of information becomes easier. Therefore, the fans do not have to wait for the news or programs that should start at a certain time on the channel, or the date of issuing a newspaper (Santomier, 2008). At present, the need for information can be satisfied instantly just by using new media in the form convenient to a person (Beech & Chadwick, 2007). Information about sports is transferred to the network and is designed for a global audience, a wide range of recipients. Sports organizations use digital media as a means of education, as well as entertainment PR-technologies.
Any modern football club has the ability to create a broad base of fans through online registration and collection of personal data during the initial purchase tickets and merchandise at the club (Williams & Chinn, 2010). Internet resources of many European soccer teams gradually began adopting elements of the extremely popular social networks today. It should be noted as an entirely different level (Beech & Chadwick, 2007). It allows the club to increase the effectiveness of its marketing activities and sales of the entire system as a whole. It is also useful for the fans who not only receive the most interesting information, but also a variety of discounts and gifts.
Thus, the structure of modern professional sports is the interaction between sports organizations, sponsors, the media, the fans, and the state. Such interaction is aimed at making profit through adding as many spectators as possible to the sporting event. The state can improve its image among its citizens and other countries, as well as provide stable income in the future (Santomier, 2008). Sponsors Association through its brand with sports event or organization (athlete) can attract more customers to obtain more profit. At the same time, sponsorship participation improves the company’s image. At present, media is covering a wide audience (for instance, the final of the World Cup in the South Africa watched by a billion of people) and, therefore, significant sponsorship brings money from advertising.
Sports organizations receive money from sponsors, media, and ticket sales and popularize the sports as such (Williams & Chinn, 2010). In summary, it should be noted that the media occupies an important place in sports communication, which is one of the main channels of public relations (Beech & Chadwick, 2007). In addition, due to the high trust of the audience and more positive perception of advertising, it is one of the most effective advertising media. Thus, media (which are known to be the result of technological progress) plays the most significant role in connecting all participants of the sports industry (Santomier, 2008).
In a survey conducted by Shank (2014) dealing with spectators at the competitions, it was found that the most of them acted in the way they used to act in the past and are not currently associated with the sports, and always act in the role of viewers (68.1% of respondents) (Shank, 2014). It witnesses the presence of interest in martial arts people who not only have a direct relation to this group of sports. The study revealed a discrepancy between the information source preference for sports news and the source of information about ongoing events. Hence, the majority of respondents said that they prefer watching television (55.5%), the 2nd place is for reading periodicals (23.5%), the 3rd place is searching the Internet for the information (16%), and finally, the 4th one is represented by listening to the radio (approximately 5%) (Shank, 2014). However, considering the fact that sports events are observed by 68% of respondents on the Internet, 32% receive necessary information from the newspapers and magazines (Shank, 2014).
The Internet is currently becoming a serious competitor to other types of media. It is caused by the fact that its network is constantly expanding, creating new sites. As a result of the survey, the majority of respondents put the Internet preference for obtaining information to the third place. But it should be noted that for the youth (persons who are 15-25 years old), this source of information is more preferable than newspapers and magazines (Shank, 2014).
After analyzing the websites of the most popular martial arts (boxing, kickboxing, Thai boxing, karate), the scholars drew attention to the fact that the content of the most interesting and informative sites were presented by National Federations (Shank, 2014). It is possible to note the good looking appearance and interesting comprehensive information of the site attracts a great number of users.
The electronic media in mass sports communications (radio, TV, Internet) have their own set of functional characteristics (Santomier, 2008). The system of regional mass media continued remaining the most popular and widely available means of informing for the various segments of population (Beech & Chadwick, 2007). Lack of specialized sports radio compensated for a large number of simple sports radio, which help acquaint listeners with complete information from the world of sports. The existing structure of the radio market has significant potential to solve important tasks of organizing and coordinating sports activities at the regional level (Williams & Chinn, 2010).
Television, being currently the most popular kind of mass media is one of the organizing and stabilizing factors in the development of sports of mass communication at the regional level. The modern system of regional television has all the necessary qualities that contribute to its full functionality.
The paper regarded and proved the assumption that the contemporary sport turned into a spectacular and commercially successful show, focused on obtaining large profits and, therefore, requiring the widest possible audience. The process of the sports commercialization has many aspects, both positive and negative. Firstly, the modern sports have already transformed into a show that leads to changes in the rules that are not always positive and are contrary to sporting principles. In addition, any outstanding athlete of the well-known sports club or association can also play a role of the product (brand) and advertising tool, which increases sales greatly. On the other hand, due to the fact that commercialization of the sports is a difficult process, it results in improved quality of infrastructure and the organization of the competition, which also has a positive effect on popularization of sports in general. Thus, the modern sports are not only a mass social phenomenon, but also a business that is not possible without the support of the media and sponsors. The impact of media on sports development requires careful study to find the methods for further development and its interaction with the audience and the media.