According to Poynton & Hartley cited in Bruce (126) sport represented through the media does not have an impact on the world and it is in most cases viewed as a story. However, because there is a lot of communication about sports through the media whether through social media, radio, newspapers and websites; it is imperative to study the messages that the mediated sport pass to the millions of people that get them (Messner 114). The reason why it is important to study the message passed by the mediated sports is because in most cases it is based on ideologies and open-mindedness. This means that the message passed through the media about a certain sport influences the assumption that a person may have about that sport and thus makes their interpretation of that sport less critical. Moreover, the message that the media convey about a certain sport can change our attitude towards it. It can also affect our cultural standards and our perception about the sport. The purpose of this blog is to analyze an image that represent American football to identify the cultural values, assumptions and practices that are imbedded within it.
Americans are introduced to football at an early age in their lives (Benavides par. 2). American football is highly considered and it is played in very many occasions ranging from homecoming party to friendly matches in schools. The sport is so popular in colleges and it has created a culture of rivalry and devotion. This culture is not only found among the players but it is also found among the fans of the sport. This culture has been spread to everybody through the use of the media. Through this footballers are considered very highly in America and it has helped in reflecting the culture of the American. However, presenting football through the media has led to many stereotypes about the game.
A number of this stereotypes, culture values, assumptions and practices are obvious in the image below. One of the stereotypes is that American football is a preserve of the male gender. All the players are male and even the spectators in the image are men. There is no woman in sight. This has contributed to the popular perception that men are the consumers of sport and especially American football. Another stereotype represented in the image is the fact that for one to be successful in American football, they must be macho and strong. All the players represented in this photo are strong, no player is a weakling.
This has contributed to the perception that the game is rough and one can get injured very easily. This is represented in the image by the way the players are struggling to get the ball. Some of the players have even been knocked down and the others are on top of them struggling to get the ball.
The image is represented in a way that looks like people are fighting. The two players on the ground on the far right appear like there are not struggling for the ball but instead they are fighting. This does not only create the perception of the roughness of the game but it also creates a perception that the game is full of rivalry. In fact it has created a stereotype that American football is a game of hooligans. This is a dangerous stereotype that can create a culture where children avoid playing the game to avoid being labeled as hooligans and this may eventually kill the game in America.
From the image above almost all the players are on the ground and those that remain standing are just staring on those on the ground. This may create the perception that there are no rules to be followed in playing American football. It may also create the perception that the rules provided for the game are very poorly done. This perception is not a good one for the image of this sport.
The above perceptions and stereotypes are not always correct. In most cases they are very subjective and are the opinion of the people who put them on the media. However, because they are put on the media and seen by huge number of people over a long period of time, they tend to appear like they are a true representation of the sporting event being represented. Therefore, it is important that whichever message, about any specific sport that is passed through the media, be examined critically by those that have access to it. This will go a long way in reducing stereotypes and wrong perception about sports.
Benavides, O. Hugo. Football and the Nation: Producing American Culture. 2013. Online <http://cargocollective.com/OppositionalConversations/Football-and-the-Nation- Producing-American-Culture>
Bruce, Toni. “Reflections on Communication and Sport on Women and Femininities.” Communication & Sport 1(1-2). Pp. 125-137. 2013. Print.
Messner, Michael. “Reflections on communication and sport on men and masculinities.” Communication & Sport. 1(1-2). Pp.113-124. 2013. Print.