This essay will discuss the media’s role in the creation anddestruction of sports stars worldwide.
The media have a massive role in thelife of a sports star, either in a good or bad it is impossible for the mediato not affect the athletes of the sporting world and how they go about theirdaily lifestyle during and after their career. Most sports have massivefollowings from fans therefore the sportsman within the sports are popularamongst the public eye and are in the spotlight of the news daily, which canmake or break someone’s career. The media has a key role in sport and the creation of asports star. The main reason for the media coverage of sport is to update thefans on immediate news and results that they will be interested in. The mediais crucial for making the special iconic moments the fans live for eligible tobe viewed globally. Sport is made to be global because the media transmitinstant news around the world to fans quickly and effectively, and also becausesport is played in the high majority of countries on the planet. Internationalsporting events are filled with logos of massive corporations, which areattracted by athletes doing well and being used for advertisement for consumergoods.
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The worldwide network that is media makes it easy for fans to reach newsand gossip of their favourite sports personnel, and near impossible for afollower not to read about the subject matter in his or hers day-to-day life. Thiscould have both positive and negative effects on the athlete, as the media maybe reporting untruthful news. ‘the growth and development of the internet has meant thatnews (whether accurate or inaccurate) has instant global reach’ (Harrison,2005, p. 27)There is a trend within the media of reporting news storiesabout a ‘rags to riches’ journey of an athlete, whom has come from a povertystricken background and made a successful career out of a sport. That (Boyle& Haynes, 2009, p.87) highlights ‘The rags to riches story is a familiarmotif in the narrative society tells itself about sport. The rewards of elitesport – the wealth and fame – are key motivators for wannabe professionalathletes’. These stories are popular among media outlets as they tend to gain alot of readers, as some readerships can identify with the sport star as theymay have the same upbringing, however they still managed to achieve theirdream.
This one story from the media can gain a lot of attention for one sportsstar, which then paves the way for a successful career and massive endorsementdeals from large corporations. NBA players are the prime example of this as it is thebiggest league for basketball in the world and followed by nearly every nation,especially America which is one the prime hubs for media coverage. (Smart,2005, p.94) discusses ‘NBA and its players had acquired a unique level ofpopularity and street credibility with young American males in particular,served to raise the status and the profile of individual players’ that the NBAhave a highly fashionable status amongst the public and represented in themedia which makes it an easy choice for sponsors to choose NBA stars. (Smart,2005, p.94) also suggests ‘NBA players became highly became highly marketablecommodities and the combination of their on-court prowess and on-screenperformances in games and advertising campaigns duly elevated them to thestatus of stars’ The mixture of media coverage and playing well in the sporttakes them to a whole new level of stardom.Born in 1984, LeBron James is an American basketball playerfrom Akron, Ohio.
LeBron’s family had much trouble living when he was growingup due to being poor, when he was nine years old he moved into the localfootball coach’s home as his mother wanted him to be in a stable familyenvironment. He then introduced LeBron to basketball and it turned out he was anatural at the sport. Throughout college LeBron kept on improving at basketballand wanted to turn it into a career, he turned professional in 2003 to play forhis hometown team Cleveland Cavaliers.
He elevated to stardom quickly and hewas dubbed the saviour for his hometown team whom haven’t won a championshipfor over thirty years. LeBron quickly broke onto the scene of NBA and the variousmedia outlets were praising his every move. NBA legend Michael Jordan hadretired in 2003, and LeBron James having immense talent and the potential of beinghighly marketable it was clear the NBA knew they had a new star on their handsto be the face of the sport and replace the great Michael Jordan.
He quicklygot endorsement deals from Nike and Coca-Cola. The NBA began to commercialiseLeBron to mould him into the most marketable sportsman in the world and themedia quickly began to portray him in a heroic tone which created a newnarrative of LeBron being the new hero of the sport. The media is influencingthe fans perception of LeBron James, and giving him an influential status tomany people whom will look up to him as a role model. The more people that see LeBron as a role model increasesthe level of attention he gets from the media, putting constant scrutiny on hisbehaviour all day every day. (Eileen, 2009, p. 3) suggests ‘sports stars areoften expected to serve as role models and behave in socially approved waysaccording to the demands of an assumed and imagined community’ the fancommunity govern the actions made by a sports star which they follow if they donot want repercussions.
(Slack, 2003, p.310) believes sponsors commercialise sportsstars as they ‘artificially fabricate perfect role models in the form of sportsstars through endorsement contracts and break clauses, this is effectively whatsponsors are trying to do: they are trying to get athletes to mimic whatsociety thinks is the perfect human being’ In this case the NBA and Nike are trainingLeBron James to be able to function on all levels not just on the basketballcourt. This means not only does he have to perform well whilst playingbasketball, but in interviews, on television and in public. LeBron started toappear on television shows such as the Ellen show and on the tonight show withJimmy Fallon. Two shows that have a very high amounts of viewers all around theworld, this makes him noticeable to the general public and not just basketballfans. After two years of playing for the Cavaliers thechampionships did not come, and LeBron left to search for glory elsewhere torivals Miami Heat.
This would ignite outrage amongst the fans of the team andthe media could not continue the narrative of LeBron being the new hero. Themedia now had to follow the trend of what the public want to read and he wasseen as the ‘traitor’ and ‘coward’ this representational from the media wouldaffect his performances for his new team. He was the new villain for NBAinstead of fans cheering him on, every fan of NBA other than Miami Heat wouldnow cheer against him. The fans outraged by the move would make a parody Nikeadvert of LeBron which didn’t go down well with the corporation as they saw itas a mockery of the brand. This would decrease his market credibility, (Smith,2009, p.
298) suggests ‘exploiting passionate fans and children who idolisesport stars through athlete endorsements of commercial products’ corporationsneed the fans to idolise the stars to maximise sales. Due to the many fans whodo not idolise LeBron James at that time it would dent his sponsorship status.This image created by the media landed LeBron endorsementincome of $42 million a year (Forbes, 2014) from a range of massive companiessuch as Nike and Coca-Cola. Making him one of the most paid sport stars in theworld. He bought out his own basketball shoe with a collaboration with Nike,which made him NBA’s top shoe salesman with over $340 million (Forbes, 2015) insales in the year 2014. The marketing that lead to the creation of LeBron Jamescareer would have been impossible without the widespread coverage of the media.
Many sporting stars are used as objects and this gives thema lack of the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, so theytreat others as objects. This is the system that is in place in the sportingworld nowadays. Sporting stars do not realise the consequences of their actionsoutside of the sports, only until after they commit the offence they realisewhat they’ve done, they believe they are above society and laws do not apply tothem. This is a key factor in the downfall of sports stars. In this case Paul Gascoigne didn’t follow the guidelines toplay football and represent his country at national level. Many times it wasreported that Gascoigne a serious drinking problem which went the rules set bythe FA.
In the build-up of the football European championships of 1996 themedia would feature many stories of the England players being drunken messes,Gascoigne being at the heart of it. ‘their behaviour was incompatible with thedemands of group discipline and national representation’ (Whannel, 2001, p.272)Only a year before the media would hail Gascoigne as the man to lead England toa major title, and everybody wanted his name on the back of their Englandjersey. After breaking onto the scene of English football in thelate eighty’s the media would take an instant liking to the Newcastle footballer.He was elevated to star status for his striking personality and his footballingtalent which fitted the criteria for making news the public love to read,meaning his activities were bound to attract the press. A transfer to Tottenhamhotspur gained momentum that he should be a regular starter for the nationorchestrated by the media.
In this period was the time ‘gazza’ was born(Whannel, 2001, p.265) describes Gascoigne as ‘God’s gift to the gimmickphotographer’. Gascoigne gained a place in the England squad in time forthe world cup of 1990. A historic moment in the semi-final Gascoigne got ayellow card, which would make him miss the final with suspension if England didreach it there. He then broke down in tears and a famous photograph emergedwith caption ‘there’ll always be an England’ which was shown on many news mediaplatforms. The t-shirt was produced to sell and was a big seller.
This was theevent that confirmed Gascoigne’s elevation to stardom was a myth. Which (Boyle& Haynes, 2009, p.88) describes as ‘The myth of the noble athlete,persevering against adversity, playing for the love of the game and bonhomie offellow competitors’.
The picture opened up many financial opportunities forGascoigne and with advice from his agent they chose the quick cash-In. Afterthe events of the semi-finals reached nearly everyone in the nation due tomedia, the new marketable commodity ‘Gazza’ was in every sports store and somegeneral outlets in the country selling merchandise. Gascoigne was now a household name in England and well-knownsport star across the planet, with the tabloid press and media being a massivepart of that. Now, they follow his every move. Gascoigne married his partnerSheryl in 1994, with a luxurious wedding documented in Hello magazine. Thiswould be the start of the decline in Gascoigne’s career and thedecline-and-fall narrative began to take place.