01 Apr

1) Discuss some of the considerations that go into creating/selecting a good sports-related photograph.

2) Discuss how sports magazine issues such as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, create an “ideal subject position”, and work/do other things to ensure a preferred reading.

3) In class, we talked about how being s sports star and being a celebrity might be different things. Discuss how this might be so, and explain potential elements that might explain how sports stars transition into more popular celebrityhood.  (class material bellow)

4) Describe ways that nationalism might be constructed/created in the sports media.

5) Discuss the concept of globalization, and how sports-related advertising allows global corporations to be from “everywhere, but nowhere” at the same time (how they’re local and global).

6) Discuss some of the ways that particular visions of gender (femininity OR masculinity) are created and circulate within the sports media [you only need to do one or the other].

7) Drawing on class materials, discuss how the sports media ties into stereotypes of race/ethnicity. (class material bellow)


Class material for q3:


Sports Stars and Celebrities


A piece of the mediated sport puzzle


This section


Narrativization of lives

Look at celebrity culture in sport

specific examples

Michael Jordan

David Beckham

Consider what moves a sports star into the realm of celebrity and why



‘Narrative’ is generally associated with fiction

In order to make events meaningful, writers characteristically turn them into narratives

Putting the lives of people into stories



Narration – the act and process of telling

Narrative – what is actually said

narrativization – turning events, lives, into a narrative.

Auto-/biographies – two important processes


Mythologising process

sports stars invested with superhuman abilities

Mystification of their presence

Selective inclusion/sanitization?

Reinscription – constantly re-written in the continuous present

Popular memory, selective tradition, writing of history

Major forms of auto-/biography


Golden Success Story

Often produced early in a career

Teaser of a major triumph, then chronological


major triumph – childhood – early prowess – discovery – helpers – first successes – advancement – major triumph

Rapid Rise narrative – triumph, early prowess – first successes – advancement, successes – triumph

Major forms of auto-/biography


Ups and Downs narrative

Often for those who didn’t achieve great heights, OR were involved in scandals, OR were brilliant but undisciplined

Successes – failures – successes – setbacks – successes – problems – successes

(ad nauseum)

Cultural forms in which the lives of sports stars are narrativised:


Biographies & auto-biographies

Newspaper news stories

Magazine profiles

TV previews of major events

narrativization of media stars


Process whereby people’s lives are turned into stories

narratives have characters, codes for putting into place the actions of primary characters

media turns people into narratives, particularly the sports media

heroic quest elements, sometimes popular villains

Elements of the story, of sport stardom


magical powers (or the loss and recovery of them),

vulnerability, elements of self-destructiveness




idiosyncrasy and unpredictability

Typical Narrative Functions


The emergence of the striking talent

Accomplishing of extraordinary feats

Public celebration

Secondary circulation of star image

Displays of arrogance

A failure to deliver

Public doubts

Erratic behaviour

Public scandal


Hero redeemed through extraordinary performance


Waning powers

Types – the lone creative individual, the rebel, the hard man, the veteran, the maverick

could we not be talking about action stars here?


The Society of the Celebrity?


We live in a celebrity-obsessed society

  1. – celebrity reality TV

celebrity news, like sports, one pillar of the tabloids

entire media forms/forums devoted to celebrities

Star system in film, other popular culture

Change over time


Ancient heroes done in song and poetry

15th and 16th century sportsmen had their portraits done

1890s when professional athletes began to be known – newspapers

Change over time


1920s, radio brought their deeds to us as they unfolded

Post WWII, television

Massive celebrityhood, penetrating gaze of television, paparazzi media

The age of the Celebrity in sport


An age where our fascination with sportsmen and sportswomen go way beyond their performance on the field

Need to know, media coverage and penetration of their lives

The age of the Celebrity in sport


Research shows that young people worldwide are not just admiring celebrities from afar, but looking to them for construction of beliefs, values, self-appraisals and behaviors (Melnick and Jackson, 2003)

movie stars, rock stars, sports stars

americanization or globalization?

Media Stars – can we ever ‘know’ them?


We have the massive need to know, but how much do we?

Arguable that media stars are less real people and more points of convergence for multiple discourses

moralities, masculinities/femininities, sporting ethics, nationalism, etc.

Heroes, stars and celebrities


Athletes are flesh and blood. Their “heroic” exploits are what sets sport off from other mediated content

Stars are particularly and consistently proficient players, well known within their sport.

Celebrities vs. Sports Stars


Celebrity goes beyond being just a sports star?

Celebrities are ‘known for their well-knowness’. Something beyond.

Example – Robert Horry – just a sports star?

“Big Shot” Rob


May 22, 1995, Western Conference Finals, Game 1

June 11, 1995, NBA Finals, Game 3 – 3 pointer with 14.1 left

June 10, 2001, NBA Finals, Game 3 – 3 pointer for 4 point lead with 47.1 left

April 28, 2002, Western Conf. First Round, Game 3 –

3 pointer with 2.1 left

May 26, 2002, Western Conference Finals, Game 4

June 19, 2005, NBA Finals, Game 5 – with 5.9 left

Possibility of fluctuation


Marshall (1997)

Hero, star, famous leader, renowned, notorious, joke

Fluctuation and change within this

Examples: Diego Maradona, Dennis Rodman

Elements of Michael Jordan’s celebrity


Talent , raw athletic ability

But that’s certainly not all…

College ball – media name before pro career

Right place, right time – NBA on marketing tear, rising star to hang on

Elements of Michael Jordan’s celebrity


Nike looking to expand its profile

“It must be the shoes…”

Good agent

Business savvy, other endorsements

Cross-platform appeal

Elements of Michael Jordan’s celebrity


He’s safe – personality, background, apolitical

Later on, comeback story

Coupled with story of father

Jordan’s “fall”


Gambling admission

One too many comebacks?

Made him appear mortal…

Beckham – what’s he got?


Beckham is NOT a celebrity because of his football skills

Beckham is NOT a celebrity because of his football skills

Many things going for him beyond that

Beckham’s Advantages


Good story – tribulations

Look – the ultimate New Man?

Manchester United ties (right place at the right time?)

Came to the fore in the time of BSkyB

Beckham’s Advantages




– the time of the New Man

– the penetration of football to a globalized world

More than one David Beckham


Flesh and blood football player

family man and father

the icon, the commodity who resides in the imagination

the unknown enigma – no political stances, causes or even personal habits

Tiger Woods?




Democratization of golf

Sponsorship – Nike

Personality management

Really unknown?

His Father story

Long-term attention

Wayne Gretzky?


What about others?


Take the list – decide if they’re a celebrity or a sports star. Why?

What aspects of them/ their lives have made them a celebrity?

How have they been narrativised?

Celebrity or simply sports star?


Anti-heroes – why do we love them?



Class material for q7:


Race as a cultural construct


When we think of race, we think about biological categories

But, race is really a cultural construct

Race is culturally produced and contested in the context of power relationships

the media have a big hand in this.

Jack Johnson –

boxing champ in 1908


1st Black boxing champ

Cameras turned off when he beat Tommy Burns

Widely vilified by the sports media for style, lifestyle

Constructed as animal-like

Tiger Woods – changes(?)


1st Black(ish) superstar golfer

Media superstar, little lifestyle focus

Focus on his power, inconsistency

Part of his appeal was the ‘appropriate’ behaviour

Now, the deviant

Race in the sports media


Most research on US media, on African-Americans, and men

Historical studies show underrepresentation of people of colour

historical studies of SI : proportion of articles on African-American athletes increased from the 1950s to the 1980s, but didn’t keep pace with their participation and impact on professional sport

Race in the sports media


study (Hilliard 1995) of 1992 Olympics found no features on Native or Asian Americans, and only 2 on Latino-Americans.

Some studies have found the amount of racial coverage on major international events to be fair, but whites still predominate in dominant positions as announcer and commentator

Race in the sports media


Much coverage of African American athletes is in particular sports

Team sports: baseball, basketball, American football.

individual sport coverage: Boxing, athletics.

Recent Change (?) –


Turner (2014) – analysis of SportsCentre. Comparing 1999 & 2009

Hypervisibility of African-American athletes; few athletes of other ethnicities

Positions of power – coaches featured, reporters predominantly Caucasian



Types of commentary have always differed

Infantization by using more first names for African American athletes (and other ethnicities)

1970s and 1980s, media perpetuated stereotypes about white and black athletes in their descriptions.

– black players more criticized and less praised than whites of similar ability in the same positions



Late 1980s studies found commentators emphasized white players’ character and intelligence, but black players’ physical assets and abilities.

– whites criticized for lacking talent, blacks for mental errors.

Has been improvement over time, but some very subtle things that reinforce stereotypes

Murrell & Curtis (1996) –

Causal attributions


Looked at what was said about 3 comparable African-American and 3 White quarterbacks

Locus – how much due to athlete themselves as outside factors

Stability – how consistent

Controllable – how much athlete can control things



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