Spreadable Media in Sport

Before the birth of social media we had newspapers, radios and television as our main source of media. An article written by Boston University states that Television was seen as the main source of media influence in the 1960’s until the mid 20th century. These were easy to control and dictate was was shown and produced because they were usually overseen by multiple people and organizations. People would tune in a few times a day to get their fix of what is happening in their world. They would then go and talk to Aunt Sally about what John was talking about from the day or some funny comic they read in their local paper. Tune in for a few hours a day, create a discussion about what has been read or heard that day, and move on with your life.

Today it’s a little different. Technology has made news and opinions the main focus of everyday life. The rise of social media platforms has created this great divide between what is factual and what is opinion. People on these new social media platforms can take on a different persona and comment on someone’s thoughts hundreds of miles away without ever seeing them in their life. This has caused a decrease in social skills to the current generation and the generations currently growing up in the birth of these new platforms of communication. The Netflix Documentary, “The Social Dilemma” (trailer below), paints a good picture of how social media is effecting our way of life.

The Social Dilemma (Netflix, 2020) Official Trailer

Author David Rowe calls it the “media sport content economy” because it sport has become monetized online through social media outlets. Likes and followers become dollars signs instead of a popularity status. At the turn of the 20th century players popularity status were determined by how often their face get shown on Sportscenter or how much they appear on the front page of the sport section. Now individual players popularity status can be easier to see in today’s social media world because it can be easily measured by how many likes they have on their post and how many people follow them.

The sports industry has benefitted from this greatly. They understand that a majority of people in today’s world have a phone in their hands and can easily place their brand right in front of the consumer’s eyes. Spreadable media has helped spread the brands of the NFL and NBA worldwide. The NFL has began to play at least one regular season game in the United Kingdom and the NBA has become a worldwide brand. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the spread of social media. Social media has rejuvenated these industries and given them new demographics to pursue.

The unfortunate thing about this new form of spreadable media is that it can’t be regulated by the government because it’s all privately owned. So people of influence can say whatever they wish, even if it is not true, and people will consume it as if it were true. For example, former president Trump found solitude in twitter by posting daily thoughts and comments. Some of those tweets were aimed at the NFL and NBA community. In one tweet he challenged Commissioner Goodell’s stance on protesting during the national anthem. However, Twitter saw how strong of an influence he has on the masses and banned him from posting on their platform. This is one of the few cases where private companies have stepped in and stopped the spread of false information.

Media has always been an influential tool. News is always negative or positive. In the days of newspapers and radio it was easy to read or hear about something once and forget it ever existed. Today it’s a little harder with the many forms of social media and the ease at which news or information can be easily spread across platforms. It’s much harder to turn off the news when technology has become essential to our way of life. Media has become a war zone for good verses evil, fact verses fiction, and left verses right. The sad thing is that so much happens in this world that we forget about the protest that went on for months against racial injustices or the domestic issues that the United States has been facing since it’s been a country. People forget what’s really important because the media is more concerned about clicks and engagement, rather than focusing on what really matters. The Truth.

The birth of influencers has helped grow social media into the platform it is today. They have a closer connection with a younger audience since most of the influencers are around the same age and grew up using these platforms. This helps them understand what motivates the audience, what content will help them engage with the consumer, and how they can built long lasting relationships with their audience. Jenkins talks about how content creators are savvy marketing experts that know how to use social media to spread their brand to their specific target audience. Athletes benefit from this because they have taken on this role of being an influencer without even knowing it. They are appealing to a young audience and are constantly in the media. They have this platform that lets them influence their audience. Lebron James a good example of this when it come to talking about his views on social justice issues.

Media use to be the escape from your life. People use to get excited to hear the news at night on the radio. It was an event for the whole family to enjoy. Now society feels as though that can’t live without it. Rather than it being a special time for the whole family to enjoy, it has become a drug that every member consumes in a different part of the house. It has given people a false idea of what life is really like. The reality of the situation is that media in today’s world is too much for the average person to handle. Dr. Jason Peterson, a professor of communication at Charleston Southern University talks about how modern media is shaping our beliefs and helping us forget the past. The link below will direct you to his eye opening ted talk about media.

How Sports and the Media Influence our Beliefs (TED Talk)

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