Sports media are ubiquitous, but how does one approach the many disparate types of media as a unified field of study? Media and Cultural Studies Assistant Professor Dr. Jason Kido Lopez recently took on this important question in a new book: Redefining Sports Media (Routledge, 2023). We asked him to share about his research, writing process, and passion for sports media.
How did you come to write about sports media? What drew you to this topic?
I’ve always been a sports fan, and playing and watching sports is a big part of my family (go Dodgers!). Maybe because of that, when I started teaching on ethics and entertainment media, I found the most interesting topics to be focused on sports. As I taught and researched more about sports from a media and cultural studies perspective, I thought there might be something interesting to say about the distinctiveness of sports in media industries, media texts, and fan engagement.
How do you conduct research on sports media?
This book expresses something that is somewhat latent in the literature on sports and sports media: that sports is a transmedia genre built on its connection to live and real competition. Therefore, this book surveys both the literature on sports media and the contemporary sports landscape to demonstrate the pervasiveness and reach of the genre. The most exciting aspect of the work, I think, is the pervasiveness of the conventions of liveness, realness, and competition. They, of course, are found in live game broadcasts, but also can be located in more surprising realms like corporate partnerships, commercials, podcasts, athlete activism, fan consumption, video games, and sports betting.
Writing a book on sports media sounds like fun – but it is also a big task! How did you approach the process and how did working at UW-Madison help you in that process?
This is my first book on sports and media, so it would not have been possible without having the time and support to write this. I really appreciate the Department of Communication Arts for giving me the opportunity to teach and write about things that interest me. I’m particularly thankful for Mike Xenos, who – during his time as chair – helped secure my current position and a post-doc during which I had the time to get this project up and running. I also couldn’t have finished this work without the expertise, support, and guidance of my Media and Cultural Studies colleagues.
You also teach about Sports Media and Sports Gaming —tell us about the classes you teach and how you’ve translated your research into the classroom.
I teach a class on Sports Media regularly, and my favorite part is getting students who are immersed in sports and media to think about what is around them all the time. As students who are usually either part of the Radio, Television, and Film track of Comm Arts or earning the Sports Communication Certificate, most are excited to explore a topic they are passionate about. We have fun working through the latest events and stories in sports and sports media.