The Best Of The Best

This essay has a total of 2318 words and 11 pages.

The Best Of The Best

Remember the time when Michael Jordan hit the game winning shot, with Byron Russel from
Utah in is face, to win his six NBA title? Remember all the times that Joe Montana and
Jerry Rice connected for touchdowns? Remember the time when Mark McGuire hit his
sixty-second home run to break the old record? All of these sporting events are part of
the mosaic that is the American society. The media bombarded American viewers with
dazzling athletic feats and heroism. But has the media gone too far in making these sport
figures seem larger than life? Could it be that the media has corrupted the spirit and
integrity of the once proud and traditional games?

During the pre-television era sports were filled with hard work, loyalty, and
self-determination but as times changed people began looking for instant gratification. It
is easy to see this happening in the much watched and listened to game of baseball. Thus
the fans preferred the towering home runs of Babe Ruth rather than the hard work style of
base hits, base stealing, sacrifices and hit-and-run plays personified by Ty Cobb.
American heroes were no longer lone businessmen or statesmen, but more often the stars of
movies and sports. Young boys now dreamed of becoming athletic heroes rather than the
Captains of Industry.

The incredible influence television has had on sports is clearly stated in the scholarly
essay In Its Own Image: How Television Has Transformed Sports by Benjamin Rader. This
scholarly essay is a well-written piece of work that takes a look at how much of an effect
television really has on sports.

Benjamin Rader states as his thesis "Television has essentially trivialized the experience
of spectator sports. With its enormous power to magnify and distort images, to reach every
hamlet in the nation with events from anywhere in the world, and to pour millions of
additional dollars into sports, television-usually with the enthusiastic assistance of the
sports moguls themselves-has sacrificed much of the unique drama of sports to the
requirements of entertainment. To seize and hold the attention of viewers and thus
maximize revenues, the authenticity of the sporting experience has been contaminated with
a plethora of external intrusions. To capitalize upon the public's love of sports,
television-again with the aid of sports promoters-has swamped viewers with too many
seasons, too many games, too many teams, and too many big plays. Such a flood of
sensations has diluted the poignancy and potency of the sporting experience. It has
diminished the capacity of sports to furnish heroes, to bind communities, and to enact the
rituals that contain, and exalt, society's traditional values," (Rader, 6).

This statements clarity and truth makes it very difficult to argue with. Rader makes it
evident that television has affected the experience of the sports for spectators. He also
makes a very important point by saying that television has the power to distort images.
Television has brought out a new part of sports that no one had ever seen before. They
were dazzled by new action shots and the fact that they could watch the game from the
safety of their living room. Although for a while the viewers had some troubles seeing the
ball while it was in the air and they often missed some of the action. (New York Times, 1)

As Rader goes on in chapter one to tell the reader about how sports used to be he explains
how the sports world made it possible for Americans to continue to believe in the
traditional gospel of success: that hard work, frugality, and loyalty paid dividends; that
the individual was potent and could play a large role in shaping is own destiny. He also
makes it clear that in the world of sports before television, Americans found a rich
history of fact and fancy, of legendary heroes, and of precise benchmarks for measuring
present performances. (Rader, 12)

The first part of this book starts off explaining his thesis wonderfully by telling the
reader how sports used to be and by how the interaction between the spectator and sport
stars will never be the same. It brings forth what the sports were intended for and the
reasons why the athletes played the game. It goes deep into the early sport stars and
shows the reader how enjoying the game can be without the television. According to Aaron
Baker and Todd Boyd, "Sports before the television era showed the athletes true love for
the game and gave the spectators a look at how wonderful the game could really be."

As television came about it begun to take over the other areas of media that displayed
sporting events and their results. They were still there and they did their part of
broadcasting and printing sports stories but it seemed that television had a greater
influence on sports. Long before the advent of television, various forms of the media had
been intimately involved in the history of sports. Few dreamed that after World War II the
new medium of television would exert a far more profound influence on the history of
American sports than had magazines, newspapers, and radio. (Rader, 31)

I am convinced that television has had a greater influence on sports than any other form
of media but I do not agree completely that the newspaper faded away when television came
about. Without the newspaper we would not be able to read the different areas of sports we
missed the night before or we would not get the individual stats. The newspaper was and
still is a great way to catch up on many different things and to find out how your
favorite sports teams are doing. According to www.mediahistory.com, "The television did
have a outstanding influence on but the newspaper has always been there for Americans to
view that statistics of each individual player and to read what the writer though of the
game."

Television's influence on sports led to different programs that aired the sports as a form
of entertainment. This caused for a few, what seemed to be secondary sports, to be turned
into much watched television shows. "The marriages of the electronic medium to boxing,
professional baseball, and college football had been far from blissful or problem-free;
yet at least one marriage, that of the medium to a mere youngster-professional
football-resulted in the transformation of a secondary sport into a phenomenally
successful form of entertainment," according to Benjamin Rader.

Like Rader mentioned in this point of the book, television did take some seemingly
secondary sports and turn them in to what they are today. The fans obviously enjoyed these
programs and found a new exciting way to spend their Sunday afternoons. Rader did a good
job showing that the influence television had was not all bad and that it created some
sports by molding them into extremely popular television shows. He showed that television
allowed people to see the programs on television that would never have a chance to go to
an actual game. According to Benjamin Rader in one of his other novels, "Before the 1950s,
newspapers, magazines, and radio had stimulated interest in sport, but television
permitted millions who had never seen a major league baseball game, or pro football game,
or the Olympic games to hear and see the spectacles in the comfort of their homes."

Although television did make some sports what they are today there are also some sports
that made television. College football became to be a growth sport in the 1960s while
professional football and television were locked in a marriage. While television had
assisted in making pro football a major sport, sports could also help make a major
television network. Some television networks were only around because of the sports that
they aired. (Rader, 99)

Rader brought up a very good point that some television networks relied on the sports.
Networks were looking for ways to grow and start and could there be an easier way then
showing sporting events once or twice a weak and bringing in tons of viewers?

Continues for 6 more pages >>