The anthology, Sport in Canadian Society, contains theses about gender, violence, class, and other issues in sport. Although published in 1991, the chapter regarding media remains very salient. The authors believe that broadcasting sporting events can lead to a slippery slope wherein ratings influence telecasts in many ways. For example, a legitimate sport like skiing could be replaced by a dilatory exhibition like arm wrestling on A.B.C.’s Wide World of Sports or commentators might go beyond describing the action and actually create their own storylines. Competing for viewers, the networks distort the competition more and more, in order to create a product that appeals to more viewers.
Watching yesterday’s Raptors-Heat game, I couldn’t help but feel that the game was irrelevant. Spurious activities abounded: the mascot held up placards during play, Rasho Nesterovic was digitally inserted into Saturday Night Fever, and many fans missed the first few possessions of each quarter because they were getting food. Association basketball is tepid and rarely engaging for a full forty-eight minutes. So I watch the weak-side, the trail official, or the post play.
It’s difficult to focus on the weak-side because the Air Canada Centre is excessively loud. It’s much more serene to watch at home but given the attendance figures, Serenity Now is not what the fans want. Instead of educating spectators about the game, teams in the Association have changed the experience to create a noisy, abrasive, and overwhelming experience. For many people, the competition is secondary to whether they can take home a mediocre slice of pizza (too often after a mediocre game.)