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An Analysis of the Co-Evolution of Sports and Media

By Jennifer Ann Centra


Thesis advisor: Marilyn J. MatelskiSports and broadcasting have enjoyed a profitable and advantageous co-existence since television's inception. Television manufacturers depended upon the popularity of baseball, boxing, and roller derby, for instance to initially boost their products' popularity. Today, sports and media are major players in some of the most profitable unions in entertainment economics. These profitable deals have become a mainstay in our society, but what is to be said about the criticism levied at the institutions that profit off of what was once simple and pleasurable sport? These broadcasting/sport unions grant the sports markets and the networks involved distinct and noteworthy advantages worthy of critical analysis. What is to be said about this co-evolution of sports and media, its overwhelming presence in American society, and the more than profitable monetary implications and consequences for all involved? Alongside this line of investigation, one has to wonder whether sports and television as we know them today would maintain their present distinctions in the absence of a half-century of codependency. Would we have split screen, instant replays, or elaborate graphics and effects if the demand for TV sports had not escalated to its present status? Would sports occupy its present reign of superiority in our society if they did not have access to the dominating voice of television? And would sports have evolved into the sometimes glamorous and showy, sometimes evocative stage of statement that we have come to know without television's vast reach? In developing this thesis, I relied on resources such as critical articles, books, and internet sources in addition to sports and media commentary to create a historical-critical research project addressing the status of the sports and media codependency in American society today. The finished project includes: A brief historical overview of the main factors in the development of the sports and broadcasting links that have evolved over the past half century. Subsequent sections address the many areas of sports broadcasting from broadcast networks, to the cable universe and new media. Following this historical approach comes a more critical examination of sport evolution through media dependency. Here we note the many changes that have taken place in American competitive sports through the increasing exposure, popularity and revenue linked with media usage. Major League Baseball then becomes the specific case study for this historical-critical investigation. This section includes a look at Major League Baseball's storied history in relation to television and an investigation of the criticism presently levied at the organization for its multi-billion dollar profit linked with media deals. Further investigations of baseball's much-publicized strikes provide proof of the pitfalls of the sports/media relationship. The examination and line of questioning employed in this thesis have been relevant through half a century, and continue to be considered today. Furthermore, research employed provides definite proof of the media/sports dependency and predictions for the future if such relationships persist. We as a media-consuming public and nation of sports fans are left to weigh the options and enact our fate.Thesis (BA) — Boston College, 2003.Submitted to: Boston College. College of Arts and Sciences.Discipline: Communication.Discipline: College Honors Program

Topics: Mass Communications, Sports, media, major league baseball, television broadcasting
Publisher: 'Boston College University Libraries'
Year: 2003
OAI identifier:
Provided by: eScholarship@BC
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