1 Sporting moments
1.1 They think it's all over
They think it's all over … it is now!
(Kenneth Wolstenholme, 1966)
This is one of those iconic sporting media moments. It happened a long time ago, when Geoff Hurst's third goal in the dying seconds of extra time clinched England's 4–2 win over Germany in the 1966 football World Cup final. People who were not even born, let alone at Wembley or watching the game on television, still recognise the phrase. The expression may have become a cliché, but it is the media transmission of the moment that makes it so memorable and iconic in the history of football. It is moments like these that create media–sport relationships and illustrate their importance.
Much of our experience of sport as a spectacle is mediated – most of the time, most of us cannot actually be there. Media coverage has been central to extending the reach of sport across time and space. However, what we see, hear and read through the media is not the same as being there; the technologies of the media and the choices made by journalists, producers and directors stage and structure what we experience.
In this course we are going to explore the close relationship between sport and the media. To become an iconic moment in the history of sport, like the 1966 World Cup final, there has to be media coverage. Those sports that are not covered suffer, while others have been staged specifically for television. How do the media frame sport? What stories do the media tell?
We start by exploring the links between sport and the media in the modern world. In Section 2, we look at two of the dominant modes in which the press has traditionally reported on sport, namely celebrity and sensationalism, and ask how social ideas and debates stage what is reported and how. In Section 3 we turn to two key features of sport that generate core pleasures of watching, following, reading and writing about sport – the creation of narratives and heroes.
The media are strongly implicated in how people understand the meaning of sport and thus have a part to play in changing understandings of sport. The sporting conversation associated with this course is an interview with Sue Tibballs, chief executive of the Women's Sports Foundation (WSF), focusing on the role of women in sport and its representation. The WSF plays a big part in promoting the participation of women and in ensuring that they are central to sport and not on the sidelines. Listen to this conversation now.