Fewer Canadians than ever are lacing up skates, swimming lengths atthe pool, practicing their curve ball, and experiencing the thrill ofcompetition. However, despite a decline in active participation,Canadians spend enormous amounts of time and money on sports, as fansand followers of sporting events and sports culture. Never has mediacoverage of sports been more exhaustive, and never has it been moredriven by commercial interests and the need to fuel consumerism, onwhich corporate profits depend. The power plays now occurring in thearena of sports are by no means solely a matter of money, however. Atissue as well in the media capture of sports are the values that informour daily lives, the physical and emotional health of the population,and the symbols so long central to a sense of Canadian identity.
Writing from a variety of perspectives, the contributors to thiscollection set out to explore the impact of the media on our receptionof, and attitudes toward, sports—to unpack the meanings thatsports have for us as citizens and consumers. Well-known hockey writerRoy MacGregor delves into the influence of big media and big sports onthe practice of objective journalism; Richard Gruneau examines theworrisome relationship between sports participation and socioeconomicclass; blogger Derrick Newman investigates the impact of fantasyleagues on sports coverage; sociologist Harry Hiller looks at theiconic dimensions of the Vancouver Olympics. Other contributors shedlight on the way in which the media serve to transformsports—including, of course, hockey—into a vehicle for theexpression of identity and nationalism. Still others probe the functionof sports as spectacle: the escalation of violence, controversies overdrug use, and the media’s coverage of tragic deaths. The goal isnot to score points but to prompt critical discussion of why sportsmatter in Canadian life and culture and how they contribute to theconstruction of Canadian identity.
David Taras holds the Ralph Klein Chair in mediastudies at Mount Royal University. He served as an expert advisor tothe House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and is theco-author of The Last Word: Media Coverage of the Supreme Court ofCanada.
Christopher Waddell is director of the School ofJournalism and Communication at Carleton University, where he holds theCarty Chair in business and financial journalism. He was formerlynational editor for The Globe and Mail and Parliamentarybureau chief for CBC television news.
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