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 publics 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, societys 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