This course explores the relationship between sport cultures and media practices. Key topics include media representations of athletes; fandom; the business of sport media; sport and social justice; and the development of sport media over time. Students taking this course will study a wide range of sports (e.g. football, soccer, dance and gymnastics) and media forms (e.g. newspaper, television, radio and twitter).
Students will learn about Sut Jhally’s theory of the “sport media complex” in order to understand how sporting events and media texts share a symbiotic relationship. They will also learn about Michel Foucault’s work on discourse in order to critically analyze sport media texts. This course will apply relevant concepts and theories to contemporary examples and case studies, such as newspaper coverage of professional female athletes, advertisements aired during the Super Bowl, Rogers and CBC’s joint ownership of broadcast rights to Hockey Night in Canada and athletes’ support of the black lives matter movement.
Some of the questions that this course explores include: how did television transform the way in which sporting events are played and watched? How did the divide between amateur and professional sports emerge and develop? How do media texts shape the public image of athletes, and why does this matter? How do individuals create and express their identities as sports fans? Why are mediated sporting events valuable to advertisers and sponsors? How have social media platforms changed the relationship between athletes, journalists and fans? Are e-sports (i.e. video game competitions) “real” sports? How do countries use events like the Olympics to conduct diplomacy?