Why are sport stars central to celebrity culture? What are the implications of their fame? Proceeding from a broadly based discussion of heroism, fame and celebrity, Smart addresses a number of prominent modern sports and sport stars, including Michael Jordan (basketball), David Beckham (football), Tiger Woods (golf), Anna Kournikova and the Williams sisters (tennis). He analyses the development of modern sport in the UK and USA, demonstrating the key economic and cultural factors that have contributed to the popularity of sport stars, while examining issues such as race and gender, the impact of professionalization, growing media coverage, the role of agents and the increasing presence of commercial corporations providing sponsorship and endorsement contracts. This book situates the sport star as the embodiment of the various tensions of age, class, race, gender and culture. It argues that sporting figures possess an increasingly rare quality of authenticity that gives them the capacity to lift and inspire people. The book is a major contribution to the sociology and culture of sport and celebrity.
Chapter 4: Media, Sponsorship and Sport Stardom
Media, Sponsorship and Sport Stardom
The Media and the Making of Modern Sport
Sport, the media and sponsorship are closely articulated aspects of modern life without which contemporary forms of sport stardom and sporting celebrity would not exist. Modern professional sport is itself unimaginable without the media. Sport is now closely articulated with press, radio and television coverage of events, the results of matches, the performances of players, as well as the on- and off-field actions of sport personalities.
It was in the nineteenth century that newspapers and magazines first began to cover modern sport events on a significant scale, raising the status and profile of both the sports covered and the individual sporting figures singled out for special mention in reports. Indeed, ...