An analysis of Present Media Ecology within the sport of Golf

In my previous blog post, we identified what media ecology is, and the impact it has on the people who operate within these ‘environments’. More specifically, the blog delved into the realm of sport and how the mass media and sport formed a symbiotic relationship over time and the impact this had on sport; specifically Golf. Within this blog then, I will begin to analyse the present media ecology within sport and again focus specifically on the sport of golf as this is a particular interest of mine. Furthermore, I will make comments on what I believe are the current trends within new media and somewhat predict what I believe will take place within the sport ecology landscape over the coming years.

From my last blog we acknowledged the importance of mass media and how it influences sport consumption. It therefore must be noted how rapid technological advancements in recent years have transcended the mass media landscape; how the passing of information has in turn, become forever digitalised, resulting in a complex interactive network of communication. This digitalised world was largely formed due to the phenomenon that we know as the internet, which has completely transformed the way in which we all live our current lives. A direct impact of the internet was new emerging digital mediums (new media or media 2.0) in the form of: Television, social media, video streams, websites and blogs being just a handful of services that have established themselves within the current mass media for the delivery of information. Through the use of these mediums Sport been able to grow exponentially and is now a frontrunner in the global mediated entertainment industry.

We are able to identify new media by breaking it down into five key categories, those being: interpersonal communication (i.e. Snapchat), interactive play media (i.e. Fifa 21), information search media (World Wide Web), collective participatory media (i.e. Instagram) and substitutes of broadcast media (i.e. Spotify). These new mediums posses certain ablitiies which saw the formation of the digital society. A society which has disrupted traditional media ecology by allowing audiences ownership/control of their content, thus providing these audiences with more ‘power’ through mediated interactions.

In relation to sport media ecology, TV has dominated the landscape as a platform for accessing sport for over half a century, largely due to it being the closest medium to actually attending the contest live. However, a shift has begun to emerge, online videos now constitute to more than 80% of consumer internet traffic, with 20% of the UK population in 2021, stating they watch less traditional TV and more online videos compared to the previous year. Golf surprisingly, has not benefited from the emergence of new media technologies in comparison to other sports. Notably, social media, which would enable the sport to connect with a younger audience, has largely been neglected by the majority of golf clubs within the UK. One of the greatest barriers to the sport is a decline in youth participation, from 2013/14 to 2017/18 the percentage of 10-15 year olds participating in golf within the UK decreased from 12.1% to 7.8%.

Historically, golf media has been shown to neglect certain demographics from the sport, specifically women. Delving into present media ecology in golf, it is evident that golf’s media at an amateur level remains outdated and behind the times, leaving many golf clubs unable to reach these new younger audiences. This could be attributed to the declining number of juniors within the sport. For instance, the majority of golf clubs in the UK only possess Facebook and Twitter accounts. Statistically, the most popular platforms used daily by Generation Z (a declining demographic in golf) are Instagram, Youtube and Snapchat, all of which the majority of golf clubs within the UK are not utilising.

In order to attract more juniors to the sport, it would be recommended for golf clubs to begin to implement their marketing strategies on the platforms used by Generation Z, in order to reach their intended audience. The days of using magazines for marketing (like many golf clubs currently do) are simply outdated in the modern era. Thus golf must accept the disruption of these new digital mediums and start utilising them for it to be a competitive sport in the years to come. In our next blog within this series we will begin to discuss Digital Disruption, and the impact this will have on specific organisations within golf.

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