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Sports Event Analysis, Research Paper Example

Pages: 10

Words: 2714

Research Paper

In the modern world, experience of any physical event has evolved in a rich and multi-dimensional experience for people who use various kinds of mass media (both traditional and new types thereof) to watch or listen to the event occurring. There are cases when people are unable to be physically present at the venue, which used to be highly problematic and disappointing for people enjoying some kinds of sports, for instance, basketball, tennis, or golf. The majority of world-famous championships and tournaments take place in the USA and Europe, or in the Far East, which makes being present at them physically impossible for millions of fans. Hence, such traditional forms of mass media as radio and television, and later – the new forms of mass media such as social networks, fan sites, YouTube uploads, and video broadcasts live on the official sites of the events have solved the problem of physical presence, offering the online viewers and listeners even a richer experience than that received by people present at the sports event.

The key to understanding the difference in the representation of sports events in traditional and new media is in the focus on the target population, and the mode of communication commonly accepted in that type of media. For instance, the traditional broadcast media such as radio and TV are aimed at the adequate and objective rendition of the events occurring at the event; commentators may refer the viewers to certain facts about the teams, about the history of their performance, or provide some news about the recent events related to the teams or players, but the focus is still the live performance at the event. As for new media such as the official fan site, or the Twitter thread, the experience of users is much more augmented than that of conventional viewers is; the users can discuss multiple issues, can re-watch the interesting moments of the event several times, can comment on the most spectacular fragments of the event, and initiate specific thematic discussions of the issue right at the site. Hence, their reality of experiencing an event is multi-dimensional and multi-directional, which makes the sports event lose its centrality in the user experience, and making communication around it the focus.

One of the examples that can be used to illustrate the point is the recently held golf tournament Ryder Cup 2012; it took place at the end of September in Medina, and the focus of the tournament’s viewers was the struggle between Europe and the USA. The traditional form of media, the TV broadcasting of the event, was available for viewers all over the world on commercial satellite channels, and in the USA, broadcasting took place via NBC. As one can see from the introduction theme designed by the NBC specialists for the Ryder Cup, the event is positioned and branded as an elite, exclusive venue with the history of many years – the kaleidoscope of winning moments from previous years of the Ryder Cup tournament is shown to remind people of the golf tradition embodied in the present event, and to keep that tradition alive by watching and attending the venue.

The presentation of the Ryder Cup championship on NBC is clearly traditional in its form – branding the event to increase the number of live viewers, and exhibiting the best moments from the whole history of the event is quite a popular technology on TV to market the kind of sports, and to improve its status as a prestigious event to watch (NBC, 2012). The majority of sports events and championships are presented on TV in a similarly attractive way to intensify the suspense, to increase the feeling of unity for people watching the event and co-sympathizing the participants who protect the honor of their country and their team. Hence, it is possible to say that the TV branding of the event is quite successful, since it indeed increases the curiosity and willingness to watch the event, mainly due to the attractive introductory theme broadcast on TV.

During the championship itself, the focus is made by the commentators and announcers on the play mainly; the intense rivalry on the golfing field is the focus of attention, which makes the viewers pay the key attention to the events in the field. However, the commentators at times deviate to the discussion of the celebrities present at the play,, or the previous events from the lives and professional careers of golfers taking part in the Ryder Cup – the present technique of filling the air is quite popular at all sports events, since the course of actions is not always robust, and the viewers may get bored. Hence, the role of commentators is to provide useful and interesting information every minute to keep the public in front of their TV screens (NBC, 2012).

Looking at this presentation, one can note that the online media construct the game in a totally different way; the reason for this is the extended space and time in which the online media function, giving the users a realm of opportunities to follow the path they find the most interesting for them. As in the case of the Ryder Cup overview, the site espn.com may be a powerful source to compare the traditional and online framing of the sports event like Ryder Cup. Entering the site, one has to go to the section “ESPN Golf”, where the news and related posts of all recent golf events are located (ESPN, 2012). Opening the page “Ryder Cup”, users find themselves in the section full of varied content – photos, videos, top stories, and top podcasts. The key to understanding the online media representation of an event is to recognize its dynamic nature – the online media serve not only to present data to passive viewers, but also to encourage their participation in the process of data elicitation (ESPN, 2012). Thus, for instance, if one visits the page of the second day of Ryder Cup (Thursday), he or she will find the central snapshot with Tiger Woods, the true star of the US golf, and some stories related to the events of the day. The stories regarding Thursday include the discussion of the top American veterans in golf and their experience – the article of Bob Harig about Davis Love III’s experience sharing is accompanied with a 1-minute video. Another top story is about the apology Tiger Woods made to other players regarding his bad performance at the Ryder Cup; among other stories, the detailed schedule of the Ryder Cup events is also presented at the site (ESPN, 2012).

As one can see, the events at the online media presentation site are not linear, and the person visiting the site of ESPN can touch upon the Ryder Cup-related events from all perspectives; it is possible to reads the news and highlights from every day of the tournament, or to watch the videos dedicated to some special moments of the games. However, the experienced is user-directed, and not presenter-directed. Users of the ESPN site can choose which day to review, which events to watch, and which ones to listen to (ESPN, 2012). The site can also be called hyper-textual – visiting the page of the day 2 schedule, the users are offered to visit some additional golf headlines; for instance, the new data about Tiger’s attitude to being in “conversation” about no. 1, Woods and McIlroy losing the World Golf match play, or the apologies Woods made to rookies for the Ryder Cup play. The references are made not only to the golf news, since the sports fans may be interested in attending the sections of other kinds of sports; thus, some breaking guidelines such as “O’Neil: Chris Mooney’s immeasurable impact” or “Reports: Lions great Karras has kidney failure” are also offered at the page to facilitate the user’s navigation of the ESPN site (ESPN, 2012).

The Ryder Cup page also contains several podcasts dedicated to the overall Ryder Cup event; the podcasts enable the users to listen to audio files, offering a different experience other than watching a video, or reading articles. One of the podcasts invites the visitors to listen to Rick Reilly talking about the dramatic comeback of Europe to the Ryder Cup scene, another podcast is dedicated to the discussion between Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo regarding the meaning of Ryder Cup’s results for the legacies of several European golfers. One more podcast represents the link between one sporting event that has finished (Ryder Cup), and another forthcoming sporting event – the Monday night’s game between the Cowboys and Bears. The present feature of the ESPN site is called interconnectivity and cross-referencing. When users visit certain online media, they have to be aware of the fact that various events are cross-referenced to increase attendance – links to videos, announcements about broadcasting time, and initial indications of breaking news and sensations awaiting the viewers are the common practice in the modern online media (ESPN, 2012).

It is obvious from the present discussion that the online media focus on some points of specific interest for the viewers; as for golf, Tiger Woods appears to be one of the central personalities, and one of the hottest topics at the ESPN golfing section. The majority of articles and video tracks are dedicated to his performance during and after Ryder Cup. The site even has a separate section called “Tracking Tiger” – its description states that the section is explicitly dedicated to tracking the news and events in the life and professional activity of the most-talked-about golfer in the world. Visiting the page of Tiger Woods shows that the golfer’s early years, pro career data, and personal data are provided in separate sections; the selection of interesting videos is also presented for the viewers at that page (ESPN, 2012).

Summing up the experience of tracing the Ryder Cup at the ESPN site, one can note that there is a clear thematic division between the contents. First, the type of content is distinguished – audio materials, video materials, photo reports, and textual data on the Ryder Cup are all provided separately for users. However, there are also some blended media, such as a combination of a news report and a video track introducing the topic of the written piece of information. Moreover, opening each new page refers the users to thematically related data, which is also specific for online media. In case fans of Tiger Woods enter the site, they receive a realm of links and content types available regarding various aspects of Woods’ life and career. Here, the experience of the user is more important for the creators of the site – people visiting the ESPN site may find out specific data not only about the event itself, but also about some of its participants, about the post-tournament events, etc.

Another interesting medium to consider in relation to a sport event rendition is Twitter; it is a social networking tool that has been used widely as a PR 2.0 method recently. The power of Twitter is in the ability of users to co-create the threads of discussion in which the topics interesting for every specific moment of the game are discussed through the prism of their personal vision thereof. Twitter is the least about the event, and the most about how people perceive that event, what they feel about it, and what they are eager to discuss about it. Hence, exploring the Ryder Cup tournament from the perspective of Twitter users is also a useful piece of experience in considering the way online media affect the presentation of a sports event (Ryder Cup, 2012).

The Ryder Cup tournament has its own tag in Twitter – #RyderCup; the introduction of the Twitter user #RyderCup indicates that the fans of any of the teams may trace the teams’ news at their separate Twitter tags – @rydercupteamusa and @rydercupteaneur. These two separate tags are the place where fans of the European and American teams can exchange their specific emotions, opinions, and attitudes regarding the course of the play, while the @RyderCup tag is a more official tag where all fans can speak (Ryder Cup, 2012). The case for tracing is 28 September, the first day of the Ryder Cup discussion. The first message on that day was posted by the Ryder Cup Team USA who informed the Twitter readers that they could watch the LIVE action from Medinah on the ESPN, or at the official site of Ryder Cup – the present tweet can be considered cross-referencing, since the users of one media platform refer the readers to another one, the ESPN channel and the official site (Ryder Cup, 2012).

After the initial post with some photos, the short discussion between the fans of European and American teams takes place, with the latter stating “Phil Mickelson & @Keagan_Bradley are PUMPED! 2-up & chest bump. Getting it done!”, and the former replying, “The ebb & flow of match play is extraordinary & no more so than at a #RyderCup – what a roller coaster morning so far”. The present tweets show that the fans of both teams are present in the discussion, and each of them is ready to highlight the successes of their teams (Ryder Cup, 2012). The RyderCup, the official Twitter account holder’s role is to announce updates and scores throughout the thread, and to disseminate certain news – it is true that the majority of smart-phone owners tracked the development of events in Twitter at the golfing event, and the easiest way to contact them was to send a tweet asking to keep their phone in the silent regime, or the vibration regime during the golfing tournament. Among sharing the impressions about some great shots by both teams’ fans, the NBC Chicago and NBC Sports channels posted their tweets with some content at their channels’ sites regarding the interesting content the Twitter readers could find (Ryder Cup, 2012). This way of referring readers to other readers may also be called cross-referencing – the sites of related providers of content, such as sports news or channels may post some links to their contents, inviting the Twitter users to follow the link in the hope that they will continue surfing their sites after viewing that link as well. The end of the Twitter thread on September 28 is the announcement about the time of Saturday pairings, and the provision of links for users to get a close look at the schedule (Ryder Cup, 2012).

As one can see from the present account of the presentation of a certain sports event through the lens of three different media – a traditional broadcast media kind, the online media kind, and a social networking tool – provides quite a different image of the event from all three perspectives. Thus, the focus of the traditional media is on the rendition of the game process, together with proper references to the key players, visiting celebrities, related sports news etc. aimed at keeping the viewers entertained and occupied in the periods when little action takes place in the field. The ESPN site is more focused on provision of various types of content for golfing fans such as videos of the best Ryder Cup moments, the news and photo snapshots of the key famous players, and the podcasts regarding some important events related to Ryder Cup. Hence, the aim of the online media tool is to store information for visitors to re-create the event, to be able to return to the most striking moments, and to obtain the fullest information possible through a realm of media content types. As for Twitter, it should be perceived as the ongoing communication tool used for sharing the reactions, emotions regarding some strikes, and the announcement tool used by the administration of the event as a useful method of getting in touch with the majority of attendees. It is thus obvious that each type of media adopts a specific way of rendering the sports event, mainly for the sake of being distinguished in the competitive environment of the modern plenty of mass media that have to compete for viewers and users.

References

ESPN (2012). Championship Central: Ryder Cup. ESPN. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from http://espn.go.com/golf/championship/_/tournament/ryder-cup

NBC (2012). Retrieved October 10, 2012, from http://www.nbc.com/

Ryder Cup (2012). Twitter. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from https://twitter.com/rydercup

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