Media Analysis: Track and Field

This photo of Track and Field sprinter Usain Bolt is an excellent medium to analyze about the cultural values, practices, and assumptions regarding the sport.  The candid shot shows Bolt close up with a pleased look on his face and appears to be jogging easily from his relaxed shoulders and head position, as well as leg position.  Behind him are sprinters acting in the same manner, and all athletes are at the at the far end of the track.  A bright yellow machine is placed near the end of the straightaway, which is most likely the clock, capturing the times of the athletes as they finish their race.  The position of the camera at this point of the track allows the viewer to see the entire length of the stadium, which is full of cameraman trying to capture pictures of only Bolt.  A scoreboard showing results of the race is also seen in the back, and a noticeably big sign with the words “IAAF World Championships: Moscow 2013” along with a lightning bolt shooting down from the sky against a dark purple sky.  Also, the flags from different countries are strung all across the perimeter of the stadium, with people filling the stadium.  The stadium lights are shining down bright on the athletes, and creates a shadow over the front side of Bolt.

            The physical elements of the shot represent many assumptions regarding Usain Bolt and the sport of Track and Field.  First, it is important to note the shot of the picture.  From the physical expressions on the runners’ faces, along with the cameraman chasing after Bolt on the infield, it can be concluded that this was the end of the race.  This is supported by the scoreboard at the far side of the stadium showing, what appears to be, the results from the race.  The shot is taken from the curve of the Track that Bolt, being a 100m and 200m racer, would never be racing on, which supports the idea the picture was taken at the end of the race.  Also, the position of the yellow clock in the back gives the viewer the idea that Bolt and the other runners had just passed the finish line and are easing up their running.  The athletes running behind Bolt, combined with the cameraman chasing along side, and the relaxed physical expressions indicate a sense of awe.  It is apparent that Bolt has won the race. 

            A great shot of Bolt, and one of my favorites in the sport of Track and Field, this shot does add to the stereotype that athletes of color dominate the Track and Field world.  Here, bolt is presented as a God, easily dominating his competitors.  Also, it should be noted that there are no viewable Caucasian runners, only colored.  A more subtle observation, this signifies that there are no Caucasian sprinters that even made it to the final heat of the race, adding to the assumption athletes of color are the better Track athletes.  The rain and the lightning bolt signify toughness, that the men can run and succeed in any condition.  Overall a powerful shot, it is images like this that cause the audience to disregard Caucasians as good athletes, and focuses on sprinters of color as ruling the sport.  

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One Response to Media Analysis: Track and Field

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    This is a really interesting image and seems to be particularly intriguing because of the lightening bolt in the background. How would you analyze this aspect of the image? What about the angle from which the shot is taken? How does this angle and other aspects of the image, such as the photographers chasing the athletes for a good shot relate to the position of the black track athlete? What about the racial politics of the camera crews in relationship to the athletes? Attending to what else is in the photo as discussed earlier on will deepen what you can say about the racial politics of this image.

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