Chapter 16: Communication and Sport in the Future

The last chapter in the book talks about where all moving parts of the sports world are headed in the future. Obviously, e-sports are a rapidly growing industry that attracts both the traditional athlete and fan. Chapter 16 talks about the future of sports organizations, participants, media entities and fans.

The book wraps up by saying that sports are headed into “hyperdrive.” This is where more individual sports like MMA, BMX and skateboarding will take prominence over the team sports. This is an interesting idea, but I’m not sure I agree with this. Football is the most team-oriented sport in the world, and is far and away makes the most money in the United States. Maybe individualized sports will continue to gain popularity and grow, but I don’t know if they can surpass sports such as basketball, baseball and football in the U.S. and soccer worldwide.

Chapter 14: The Commodification of Sport

Chapter 14 talks about how sports has turned into something that is just bought and sold. In the United States, sports generate a huge amount of money. Whether it’s team apparel, tickets, television contracts or anything else related to a particular team or sporting event, teams and leagues are looking to make money wherever they possibly can.

Teams and leagues have several corporate sponsorships that vary depending on the organization. Sports have become very commercialistic, particularly with the internet taking off like it has in the past 20 or so years. While money does play a huge role in the sports world, it should not be the only factor.

The NCAA generates billions dollars of revenue every year, but still refuses to pay its athletes. These athletes, particularly Division I football and basketball players, make tons of money for their schools and never see a dime of it fall into their own pocket. Instead, the presidents, athletic directors and coaches of these big-name universities are rolling in cash, along with the big wigs of the NCAA.

The commodification of sport is something that is unavoidable in today’s society, but if you’re going to be making countless dollars behind these 18-22 year old’s names, they need to be able to collect some of the money that is being made off of them.

Chapter 15: Sports Gaming

Sports gaming is relatively new when it comes to the fantasy aspect. The oldest fantasy football league in the world, Coach the Pros, will draft players for their 43rd season this fall. Many people have lost a lot of money playing online fantasy sports, particularly with the advent of daily fantasy sports hubs like DraftKings and FanDuel. The executives of these companies state that the product they put out is an entertainment service, and that it is not a gambling website. These executives claim that is skill, not luck, that determines whether you win or lose. While having knowledge of the sport and players definitely helps, there is still an abundance of luck involved. Putting money on players and games that you have no control over is a dangerous way to dig a deep hole for yourself financially.

Sports video games have taken off recently. NBA 2k, FIFA, Madden and NHL franchise games all do extremely well, and each franchise releases a new addition every year. The NCAA had released both college football and basketball games in partnership with EA Sports, but after players filed lawsuits for not receiving compensation for their likeness being on the game, the NCAA stopped the production of these games. As stated in the book, three of the top 10 video games in 2012 were sports video games. This is a wildly popular market, and it continues to grow as the market continues to grow.

Chapter 8: Politics and Nationalism in Sport

Politics and nationalism have always been a huge part of sports. Athletes use their platform to express their political beliefs, and have also used this platform to show their patriotism, particularly after a national tragedy.

While political views are expressed through athletes, there are also politics within some sports organizations. The Olympics are obviously very political, as they provide an international stage for countries to showcase their patriotism and compete against each other. Other sports organizations like FIFA, have been filled with corruption and have tried to fix the issues within the federation.

Sports have also brought political issues to the forefront of the nation’s attention. Jackie Robinson played in the major leagues nearly 20 years before the Civil Rights Act was passed. Without prominent black athletes like Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Bill Russell, the Civil Rights Act probably would not have been passed until much later in the 60s, possibly the 70s.

Athletes like Pat Tillman and Alejandro Villanueva, have both played in the NFL and served in the military, and showcased their avid support for the United States armed forces. Tillman first played in the NFL then served in the Army after 9/11. He was accidentally shot and killed by one of his fellow Rangers in 2004. Villanueva served 3 tours of duty as a Ranger before signing an NFL contract in 2014 and currently plays left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Chapter 7: Race and Ethnicity in Sport

Race and Ethnicity is a huge part of sports history, and is still a huge factor in sports today. Athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, John Carlos and Tommie Smith paved the way for non-white athletes to have the platform and the freedom to express themselves that exists today.

Like schools, sports were segregated for a long time. Like gender in sport, race and ethnicity in sports has come a long way, but is not quite as equal as it should be. For example, only 14 head football coaches in Division I FBS are black; that’s roughly 11 percent. Although many non-white athletes have been able to break into the athletic field, there is still a huge lack of diversity when it comes to coaches.

The NFL has taken steps to diversify their coaching and leadership positions. The Rooney Rule requires organizations to interview minorities for positions in an attempt to provide equal opportunities. Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin, is a product of this rule, and hopefully other sports leagues will try to make their leagues and teams leadership more diverse, like the NFL has.

Chapter 6: Gender In Sport

Chapter 6 focuses on the role women play in the sports world. The biggest impact on the role of women in sports is the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX stated that an opportunity to play a sport, should not be limited to the sex of a person.

Women’s sports are still not covered equally by networks like ESPN and FS1. According to the text, ESPN’s premier show, SportsCenter, only dedicated two percent of their total coverage to women’s sports in 2014.

The naming practices in sports are starting to become more equal, as several male athletes are now known by their first names along with female athletes. Serena, Lebron and Kobe are all athletes that are known by their first names.

Overall, women have gained a lot of ground to make the gap for equality in sports, but there is still plenty of ground to be made up, particularly in media coverage.

Chapter 3: Sports Media

Sports-related programming dominates the list of the top rated programs. Unlike TV shows that can be recorded and watched at your convenience without spoiling the outcome, sports is all about the immediacy of live action.

National networks, like ESPN, and regional networks, like Fox Sports South, bring sports programming to millions of fans across the nation. Traditional and new media combine with social media to give the sport fan the most connected experience to date.

User-generated media and social media has given everyone a voice in the world of sports. Social media has connected the fans to the players like never before. Athletes like Joel Embiid and Enes Kanter are known for arguing with fans and fellow athletes through Twitter. Meanwhile, YouTube and the resurgence of podcasts have given every fan the ability to generate their own content.

Chapter 5: Sport and Mythology

Mythology in sports is an interesting concept that is highly intangible, and for the most part, made up by fans and media. All sports mythology is dependent on perspective, it’s either a miracle or a meltdown.

For example, what’s now being called the “Minneapolis/Minnesota Miracle”, the final play of the Saints vs. Vikings NFC divisional round playoff game, is either one of the most amazing plays in playoff history, or one of the worst defensive plays in the history of football. If you’re a Vikings fan, you were in utter disbelief that your franchise, which is known for losing close playoff games in humiliating fashion, was actually on the right side of a clutch play for once. If you’re a Saints fan, you are still trying to comprehend how your rookie safety, who had a game-changing interception in the 3rd quarter, could possibly miss a tackle in the fashion that he did.

Sports heroes and star athletes are a huge part of cultures worldwide. Few celebrities are in the spotlight, for the right and wrong reasons, like star athletes are. Names like Tiger Woods and Michael Vick come to mind when I think of athletes who have fallen off the podium of both success and societal appreciation. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant was able to continue performing at an elite level after his reputation took a hit, unlike Woods and Vick.

Sport and Mythology go hand in hand. Intriguing storylines will always be available, and there will always be players trying to surpass their idols that came before them.

Chapter 2: Community in Sport

Chapter 2 talks about the community of sport.  According to the chapter, there are four major “players” in the sports community. Each role serves an integral part to make up this community.

The first “player” in the sports community is the participant.  Without the participant the other three roles would not exist. The participant has several different stages in which they can play. The book lists them as “Casual Play, Intramurals, Amateur Athletics and Professional.” Casual play is any unorganized sporting event. A pickup basketball game is a perfect example. Intramurals is the beginning of an organized sport, such as a recreational basketball league. Amateurs play the game in an organized fashion because they have a passion for sport, and do not make a living from playing their sport. An example of this would be a collegiate athlete. Lastly, professional athletes play their sport not only because they love doing so, but because that is how they earn a living. Each one of these stages provides a stepping stone to get to the next.

The second “player” in the sports community are the sports organizations. There are several different types of sports organizations, ranging from “recreation clubs” (ex. YMCA, community centers) all the way to “organizing committees” (ex. International Olympic Committee).  These clubs, organizations and committees set up the organized sports as well as the unorganized sports.

The third “player” in the community of sport are the sports media entities. There are three types of jobs within this “player”, including visibility, production and hybrid. The visibility jobs are often referred to as the “on-air talent” jobs, such as a print reporter, radio host or a play-by-play announcer. The production jobs are the behind the scenes jobs, such as a photographer or a shows producer. The last type of job in the sports media entities is the hybrid. In this particular type of job a person combines some of elements of the visibility jobs and some elements of a production job and rolls it all into one. An example would be a radio host who also produces their own show.

The last “player” in the sport community is the fan. The fan supports all of the other parts of the community by consuming the product that they produce. There are different levels of fan involvement, but the product that is made by the other three “players” is the ultimate fan experience.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Communication and Sport

Reading this chapter, we get a brief overview of the topics that we will be studying throughout the semester. This chapter follows most other book’s introduction chapters. Each chapter has a short section explaining what it will consist of.  These topics, such as social media, nationalism and political symbolism, and their impact on the sports world, will all be discussed at length later in the text.

Sports play a huge part in how we communicate. As stated in the text, the Olympics and the World Cup are the most watched television events in the world. This trend continues in the United States, where the Super Bowl is the most watched television event. Sports are an integral part of communication around the world. Sports have brought communities together, such as the JJ Watt foundation after Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

I’m interested to see how sports relate to each topic mentioned in this introduction chapter, and how we as a society impact the sports world as a whole.