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Using media to advocate Sport the right way
Unlike nineteen years ago where we had to depend on media reports from the Print media in the United Kingdom or Europe on clubs where several of our former overseas-based players campaigned to keep in tune with their exploits, the now rapid growth of internet sites and other networking platforms is at the centre of change, offering immediate access to information for anyone who can type the word “google.”
In other words, technological advances have severely altered the manner in which information is communicated. Presently there are a variety of driving forces fuelling the shift from traditional journalism of pen and print, to click and internet. Further, due to the increased access of sporting events via the internet, satellite, and other advances in technology, a mere review of sporting events and scores is no longer as important to audiences. People now want more. And it is important that that media, local and regional within the Caribbean begin to move with the times and give the readers and viewers what they want, the information away from the scores.
At the same time, the simplicity of the concept of sports journalism is that it should be focused on sport; on the athletic talents of professional athletes, not their personal lives. Unfortunately, the increased competition and economic pressures have led to decreased ethics in reporting, as journalists are forced to develop the most controversial stories that will sell. Too often these stories are laden with sensationalism and scandal, and have the potential to tarnish an athletes’ reputation.
The downside of social media is that it allows for shaming as easy as clicking enter. Now don’t misunderstand me, if wrong has been done and needs to be pointed out then by all means possible it should. But perhaps shaming has become a core competency of the Internet, and it’s one that can destroy both lives and livelihoods. But the question of who’s responsible for the destruction — the person engaging in the behaviour or the person revealing it — depends on whom you ask. At its best, social media has given a voice to the disenfranchised. The problem most times is that for many using the medium from the wrong reasons do not fully grasp the full power of the medium.
Here in T&T, the media could in fact play a greater role in promoting and marketing sport and the sporting disciplines deserve that without a doubt. From Super League to Secondary Schools and Pro League, Elite development programmes, Rugby, basketball, volleyball, cricket, athletics and more all have stories that would create a stir and interest and in the process market the product. The access to this is not as difficult as some make it out to be, but the desire to make stories and potentially develop role models should be firm.
It is important too, that the various heads, organisations and personalities understand that marketing will not and cannot fix everything. it’s more important than ever to make sure everything is in line. So as you develop your marketing strategies and messages, particularly through the media, make sure they are all in line with what you are actually delivering. After all, mutual trust is forever important in building durable relationships both in personal and professional life.
It has been repeated and must be stressed that the value of sport to local government and communities extends beyond sport for sport’s sake. It can play a role in bringing communities together, having a social and cultural impact, developing social capital and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. Let's play, support and encourage sport.
Shaun Fuentes was a FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and is currently a CONCACAF Champions League and competition's media operations officer.
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