Sports Have Been Enjoyed As Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

26). The fan culture that sprouts up around MediaSports is a curious social phenomenon. While there were no doubt fans of ancient Greek athletes who booed for their most vilified opponents from the rafters, the obsession with sports in modern society is unprecedented. Hovden (2003) points out an even more potentially destructive facet of MediaSports: the "sexualization and erotization of women's sport and female athletes," (p. 11). The relationship between the media and women's sports is paradoxical. On the one hand, women are participating in what has been an almost exclusively male venue and reaping rewards. Female athletes provide positive role models for young girls, and competitive physical activity is no longer viewed as being the province of men only. As women take control of their bodies and their images, then, it is ironic to see how many female athletes are talked about because of what they wear, or how "hot" they are and not because of how well they play. To be fair, though, the sexualization of male athletes takes place just the same.

The media helps to create and disseminate images of female athletes that appeal to consumers. In fact, the viewer market for women's sports is a strong political issue. The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) has fought tooth and nail for mainstream coverage and has failed repeatedly on the grounds that women's basketball doesn't sell. Female sports are usually considered second-tier unless a "hot" player like Sharapova plays.

Groups that are systematically exploited are ironic recipients of some of the spoils of MediaSport. The media is helping to perpetuate stereotypes of women as the "weaker sex" valuable more because of their sexy bodies than their personal achievements. At the same time, the media is helping to undermine those stereotypes through the presentation of strong females who achieve greatness purely of their own accord. In the same way, the Maori culture is engaged in a dysfunctional and codependent relationship with MediaSports. As Jackson & Hokuwhitu (2002) point out, "In New Zealand, team sports, and in particular rugby, have been one of the few cultural sites where Maori have achieved any sense of equality," (p. 127). The selling off of All Blacks imagery and especially the use of the traditional Maori dance called the haka "has simply been colonized as a national rugby symbol to represent racial harmony despite the lack of Maori material advances," (Jackson & Hokuwhitu 2002).

The power of MediaSport can potentially be harnessed for good. Sports and athleticism are inherently positive features of any culture or of any individual life. With the possible exception of athletes who dope, achievement in sports is totally based on one's own merit. "If individual ability, competence, or merit count for anything in any sphere of life m contemporary society, it should be in sports," Hughes & Coakley 1984). Therefore, the media's role in making sports the massive money making spectacle it has become is not necessarily a vampiric one. The key is to ensure that MediaSport does not reinforce the inequalities already extant, and helps promote social awareness. As Real (1998) notes, "being critically self-aware of the negatives of media sports, coupled with an appreciation of the power and joy of those same media sports, provides a minimal basis for acceptance of media sports within a potentially wholesome, balanced, and satisfying human life," (p. 26).

References

Hovden, J. (2003). From equality and justice - to difference and profitability. Paper presented at the Gender and Power in the New Europe, the 5th European Feminist Research Conference, Lund University, Sweden. www.iiav.nl/epublications/2003/Gender_and_power/5thfeminist/paper_576.pdf

Hughes, R., & Coakley, J. (1984). Mass Society and the Commercialization of Sport. Sociology of Sport Journal, 1(1), 57-63.

Jackson, S. & Hokuwhitu, B. (2002) Tribes, and Technology: The New Zealand all Blacks Haka and the Politics of Identity. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 26(2), 125 -- " 139.

McKay, J., & Miller, T. (1991). From Old Boys to Men and Women of the Corporation: The Americanization and Commodification of Australian Sport. Sociology of Sport Journal,…

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References

Hovden, J. (2003). From equality and justice - to difference and profitability. Paper presented at the Gender and Power in the New Europe, the 5th European Feminist Research Conference, Lund University, Sweden. www.iiav.nl/epublications/2003/Gender_and_power/5thfeminist/paper_576.pdf

Hughes, R., & Coakley, J. (1984). Mass Society and the Commercialization of Sport. Sociology of Sport Journal, 1(1), 57-63.

Jackson, S. & Hokuwhitu, B. (2002) Tribes, and Technology: The New Zealand all Blacks Haka and the Politics of Identity. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 26(2), 125 -- " 139.

McKay, J., & Miller, T. (1991). From Old Boys to Men and Women of the Corporation: The Americanization and Commodification of Australian Sport. Sociology of Sport Journal, 8(1), 86-94.

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