Suggested by Writer, but it has to be You are to write a critical analysis of the presentation of a single sports event across three media
platforms. The writer must examine a professional sports event. must watch a live broadcast of the sports event as it happens. Failure to followÂ this prompt will result in you having to rewrite the paper.
Writing Assignment #1
Sports Event Analysis Paper
One of the premises of this class is that sports narratives are, to a great degree, shaped by the media on
which they exist. At the same time, we assert that elements of the sports narrative must remain coherent
across the various media on which the story is told or they will be meaningless. In this paper, you will
examine a sports narrative across several media, identifying key elements of the narrative that shift,
depending on the medium, and elements that remain stable.
As we discuss throughout the semester, for the vast majority of its audience, the narrative of a sporting
event is created in the mediated presentation of the event. Even at live events, fans are treated to
mediated framing of the event (scoreboards, replays, announcements of important milestones, and so on).
However, the experience for those viewing sports over traditional and online media is typically even
richer in narrative construction. The sports story told on the field or court is deconstructed by directors
and producers and announcers and reconstructed as a mediated narrative.
You are to write a critical analysis of the presentation of a single sports event across three media
platforms. One of those platforms must be traditional media (either television or radio). Another must beÂ some form of online media (espn.com, coverage on the league site, or the team site, take your pick). TheÂ third must be a twitter trend on some aspect of the game. You are to examine the varying ways in whichÂ these media create narrative coverage of the event.
Since you must follow these narratives concurrently, you must watch a live broadcast of the sports event
as it happens. Hence, you cannot watch a prerecorded
event from before the start of the semester. YouÂ need to watch an event as it occurs, live. Failure to follow this prompt will result in you having to rewriteÂ the paper.
Key to this assignment is recognizing that you are not examining the actions on the field but the ways in
which broadcasters and online sources reconstruct the actions into stories. You are examining how these
communicators create the experience of the sport for their viewers and readers and how, in creating that
experience, create messages that tell their viewers/readers what is important, who are the heroes/agents
of action, what is the struggle or dramatic focus.
You are to use the elements of narrative theory to make your analysis. You are to identify ways in which
each narrative creates a coherent (internally consistent) story out of the event and ways in which the threeÂ media create fidelity (or fail to create fidelity) between their accounts. For instance, you might find aÂ national broadcast on Fox Sports of an event that identifies a particular player or team as failing to live
up to expectations, having a poor outing, or failing to play hard. You might find that story recast by the
teamâs website so that the player or team is alleviated of blame for the failure. You can note that these
stories lack fidelity probably because of the conflicting values of the storytellers
(the broadcasters wantÂ to offer a relatively unbiased opinion, the team wants to sell you their producta
âgreatâ team worthÂ cheering for).
You are not to examine any sports from USC. You must examine a professional sports event. I cannot
make any exceptions to this policy, even if you mistakenly write a paper on an amateur event. You will
receive no grade for a paper on an amateur event and will have to rewrite the paper at a ten percent loss
of grade. So, make sure the event you want to examine is a professional event before writing your paper.
Drawing on class theory, your analysis should examine the ways in which the directors of classic media
construct the story of the event and compare that construction with those of nontraditional,
How do the playbypay
announcer, color commentator and director (who chooses the shots) reconstruct
the game? What do they focus on (and get you to focus on)? How do they create the impression that they
are constructing an objective report of the event? What do they do that supports the interests of the sportsÂ team or league or athlete?
Specifically, you are to examine the construction of characters by the media. Who are the lead characters
in this story for the media? Who are the heroes and/or villains? Who are the agents and who are the
opposition? What actional tendencies do the storytellers
point to in order to reinforce their identification
of certain characters as central, important, stars, agents, or heroes? What does this tell us about the valuesÂ of the storytellers
(what do they value in heroes/agents . . . what do they criticize in villains or heels)?
Compare this to how the online source constructs the game. What is the focus of the online source? If it
is a âfanâ site, what does it create as âof interestâ to fans (in other words, by focusing on one thing, what
does it imply should be of interest to you as a fan?)? If it is a team or league site, what does it do to
promote the interests of the team or league? What sort of advertising does it put forward? What
team/athlete products, services or events does it promote? How does it create a âhome teamâ language
(verbal or nonverbal)?
Finally, during the game, you are to find a twitter conversation on some element of the game and follow
the conversation to its end. You are to explain how the twitter users reconstruct the game. What do they
focus on? What is of importance to them? How do they create the story of the game or event? This
should only take a limited time and a limited part of your analysis as there are likely to be several
different conversations that appear and disappear during the time that the event takes place. Follow one,
review it, and explain how the twitter users create the game in a way that varies with those of the more
traditional purveyors of the game (and may conflict with their interests). I realize that we are already intoÂ the era of Snapchat and Instagram and a variety of other forms of social media that may supersede
Twitter. But, for the moment, Twitter will work fine as our engine of social media narrative.
This paper should be primarily descriptive in analysis. This means that you need to load it up with
specific illustrations from the various media you examine. You also need to demonstrate a mastery of
class concepts by showing how each narrative construction of the event: 1.) recreates the event in a way
unique to that medium and 2.) displays the interests of the communicators who employ that medium.
Note, in spite of the fact that this is a class paper, you will be performing a pretty comprehensive
marketing analysis (albeit, brief). Central to effective marketing is knowing your target audience(s), the
media you have available and the ways in which that media shapes your message. So, this can be a
particularly valuable exercise if you have any interest in working in sports media or marketing.
You donât have much space (only 57Â pages), so you need to have very clear illustrations and explain
them succinctly. This may seem like a lot to do during a single event. However, remember that you can
review twitter feeds after the event. So, make sure you focus strongly on the broadcast of the event. C
papers will simply repeat what was seen on the various media. B and A papers will show how the
different media create different forms of communication and how the interests of the communicators
inform their discourse.
Papers will be graded on clarity of explanation and analysis, strength of insights, and effective use of
class concepts. Papers with excessive errors in spelling or grammar (over fifteen) will be returned to the
author for a rewrite. Rewritten papers will lose a letter grade and the authors will receive a zero for the
assignment until the rewritten papers are handed in.
Good luck and let me know if you have any questions. Iâm excited to hear about what you find.
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