EPL

Understanding English Premier League (EPL) football in India in terms of media commentaries and how they determine image of English football in this country

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India is a cricket crazy country but for the last few years football has become a popular game. Particularly EPL has established its clubs and academies at different parts of India. EPL has been popular in India and there is significant increase in the viewership of EPL matches among Indian since 2006. In this study the author has tried to understand EPL football in India in terms of media commentaries and how they determine its image. The author used coverage of EPL football by Indian media particularly print media as well as conducted interviews with journalists and personnel related to local football to explore how much influence media has on popularizing EPL in India and whether there is difference in the coverage of local and international teams. One significant finding of the study is that EPL has a rising fan base and media is just a medium of reaching the fans and not has much influence on image construction of EPL team. Four main themes emerged from the results of the study; (1) there is no significant difference in the coverage of EPL and Indian local football by media; (2) Football has become popular and there are predictions of its becoming more popular in future. (3) EPL has its viewership which is rising day by day. Seeing its popularity in India, Indian sponsors are purchasing the teams and tournaments’ rights. EPL has established clubs and academies in India. And there is scope of its becoming more popular. (4) Though at present local football teams are not able to compete with the international or EPL teams yet, AIFF is trying its best to achieve this standard through training and marketing.(5) Cricket is the top sport in the country and football may not reach its level in popularity but there is scope for it to be second famous game.

Table of Contents

Chapter-1 Introduction 5

Introduction 5

Background of the Study 6

Purpose of the Study 7

Chapter-II Literature Review 9

Theoretical Foundation 9

Sports journalism 13

Game coverage and story construction 14

Frame construction in journalism 16

Frame construction in sports journalism 19

Narrative and interpretive processes in sports writing 22

Chapter-3-Methodology 24

Data Sources and Collection 25

Personal Interviews 25

Content Analysis 25

Combining theme and content analyses 27

Chapter-4 Results and Discussion 29

Media commentaries about EPL in India 29

Rising Popularity of EPL in India 30

AIFF is Promoting Indian Football Team 30

Cricket Verses Football 32

Interview Analysis 32

Conclusion 41

Main themes 41

Media coverage has no significant influence 41

Rising popularity of football in India 41

Rising viewership of EPL and international Teams in India 42

Improving local football 42

Cricket verses Football 42

Chapter-1 Introduction

Introduction

English Premier League explored many regions like East Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the U.S. over and above other traditional countries for example Canada and Australia. These countries now have fan clubs of football particularly of EPL and they have helped to maximized the profits on EPL brands but till now India was not considered to be a potential market for Football because of huge popularity of Cricket in this area, hence, broadcasting of EPL matches on a regular basis, and recognition of English football among youth and glamour is present in this game and recently increasing popularity is being noted through media. (Bill Wilson, 2009)

English Football has felt potential in India and they have established clubs here. Mr. Kenyon. Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon expressed the interests and scope for English in India at the meeting of the UK India Business Council at Stamford Bridge. He Said; “There are real, real, positives in India for an English club as I believe football has got a real future in India over the next 10 years”

International business related to media and television programming has gone through a far-reaching conversion since the late 1980s, basically because of the privatization of media firms and the deregulation of industries, which formerly were being controlled by states in majority of countries in the world. In addition to this new video sharing technologies have been introduced, which increased the number of channels to be filled.

Fandom and media are the key elements in popularizing a sport. The growth of commercialization and popularity of football has increased the importance of a fan base. For the purpose of establishing a fan base, sport marketers use strategies to convert casual followers of their program into loyal fans. As loyal fans are more likely to spend money attending games, follow the team in the media, and purchase team apparel (Bauer, Stokburger-Sauer, & Exler, 2008). More importantly, loyal fans spend a considerable amount of time attempting to convince other that their favorite team should be supported. When a team develops a loyal fans base, they have a better chance of building revenues through ticket sales, merchandising, and sponsorship opportunities.

Several theoretical models indicate that an individual follows a fan progression that begins with an initial awareness of a team (e.g.,. Team Identity as Mediating Role Construct, Revised Psychological Continuum Model). Moving forward in the progression, individuals start to experience an attraction and/or attachment to the team (Funk & James, 2006). At this point, the individual has built a level of identification with the team, and experiences a sense of belonging to the group consisting of other fans of the team. The continued development of identification with a team will eventually lead the individual to exhibit attitudinal and behavioral loyalty to the team (Scremin, 2008). Thus, the individual has become a loyal fan of the team.

Being a fan give many people a sense of identity and pride. In cities with teams, local political and business leaders treat their franchises as treasured assets that help generate prestige and prosperity for their communities.

Background of the Study

The coverage of local football in both the English and Hindi press is sparse. As far as screenings are concerned, most matches are not televised and those televised are never advertised. The impression given is that this is a dying league with nothing exciting for the fan to watch or invest in. The English Premier League, however, is a different ball game altogether. While not in the same league as cricket, the EPL enjoys much wider coverage. Matches are telecast with regularity and there is major publicity involved. Newspapers, TV and news channels carry scores and updates on a daily and regular basis. Therefore there is need to dig into the commentaries, what the experts (and people who have actually played the game at its highest level) have to critique about EPL and its fixtures. Besides, what the broadsheets, print media and newspaper reports have to say about Indian engagement with EPL is a major set of articulation that many football fans and followers would indeed relish. The nature of fans of English football in India is intrinsically linked to the kind of coverage the sport receives. The media plays a massive role in how football is portrayed to the public and not just the fans. It is here that the idea of articulation comes into play.

The language differentiation is important since this is capable of offering different hues of EPL as compared to the local leagues. The aspect of print media is important since this contribution of the media is changing the image of football and making it inspirational too. This is important since the print media needs to position the readers’ through their writings, especially with regard to real and imagined readerships.

Purpose of the Study

Through this Dissertation the researcher will discuss and analyze focus on the English Premier League (EPL) football in India and its growing frenzied popularity in this country. In the background this writer shall discuss about the previous history of domestic football in this country and the differentiations between football and cricket from a spectator’s perspective and public imagination

The main objective of this study is actually the commentaries made by members of the Indian media articulate fans and spectators. It is they who tell the general public what it is that the spectators are doing.

It will also be considered which forces are behind the growing popularity of EPL in India, and the forces behind these phenomena. The author will analyze media commentaries about both the EPL football as well as local football leagues and a comparison of both. The focus of the research will be on two important aspects of EPL football- fan followings and media commentaries.

Chapter-II Literature Review

Theoretical Foundation

The moment one has to discuss sport, its spectatorship also comes into focus. Who watches the sport i.e. its fans are as crucial as the sport itself. Sports teams help communities define their uniqueness both to themselves and to the outside world (Winningham, 1979; Schudson, 1995; Oriard, 2001). In turn, the coverage of sports becomes an important part in reflecting, transmitting, and interpreting the cultural influence of the sport on the community. From its outset, sports journalism has been criticized from both within and outside the journalism profession as often playing more of a promotional role than an informative role. The symbiotic relationship between media and the sports they cover has always been tenuous at best, with media attempting to uphold the tenets of objectivity and sports promoters attempting to gain as much attention as possible for their events. Without media coverage, sports promoters lose a key element to their promotions; without well-attended games to cover, sports journalists lose some of their justification for covering the events. Therefore, one of the most difficult roles played by the sports journalist is the role that toes the line between simply informing an audience and playing a promotional role for the sports events themselves. As Boyle (2006) summarized, “It is unsurprising when seen in its historical context that there has been a perennial struggle at the heart of sports journalism between the notions of journalistic rigor and the more uncritical promotion of sports, teams and individuals by newspapers” (p. 32).

John Fiske defines fandom as ‘a common feature of popular culture that selects from the repertoire of mass-produced and mass-distributed entertainment and takes them into the culture of a self-selected fraction of people. (Fiske 1992: 30). He placed a great deal of emphasis not only on studying actual audience readings, but on studying the audience as ‘active’ in the construction of meaning. Fiske argues that fandom has three general characteristics. The first characteristic is that fans determine the boundaries between what falls within or outside of their fandom, thereby creating a line that clearly marks someone as a fan (Fiske 1992). It is argued that such investments in specific differences make fans divide the cultural world into ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ (Grossberg 1992). The second characteristic of fandom is that of productivity and participation. As Fiske notes,

“All popular audiences engage in varying degrees of semiotic productivity, producing meanings and pleasures that pertain to their social situation out of the products of the culture industries. But fans often turn this semiotic productivity into some form of textual production that can circulate among — and thus help to define — the fan community.” (Fiske, 1992:30)

The third characteristic of fandom is that of capital accumulation. Here, fan cultural capital lies in the appreciation and knowledge of texts, performers and events, therefore making the accumulation of knowledge fundamental to the accumulation of capital (Fiske 1992).

Fandom has also been understood as an ‘interpretive community’. Stemming from the work of literary theorist Stanley Fish, it suggests that different groups of readers — drawing on different communal codes and conventions — construct and interpret texts according to their community’s reading conventions. This is particularly interesting in light of the local and community nature of sports.

Also interesting is John Tulloch’s work which pays close attention to the issue of fandom not merely as a community but also as a social hierarchy. A common thought is that fandom is a social space without a pecking order, in which all fans are somehow equal. Where interpretive community approaches tend to emphasize communal agreement and fan resistance to the text-as-commodity Tulloch indicates that such agreement remains a matter of unevenly distributed (semiotic) power and fan knowledge: some fans have greater power to enforce and reinforce specific readings. These fans tend to be at the apex of their fandom’s social hierarchy, and indeed Tulloch refers to them as ‘executive fans’ (Tulloch and Jenkins 1995:149) This also holds true in the case of football fans. While fans may be equal in the level of their support for a club or team, factors like where they watch a match- at home or in the stadium or even access to seats in the stadium indicate that some sort of social hierarchy is prevalent.

The nature of fans of English football in India is intrinsically linked to the kind of coverage the sport receives. The media plays a massive role in how football is portrayed to the public and not just the fans. It is here that the idea of articulation comes into play. Ernesto Laclau described the term as “a practice, and not the name of a given relational complex” (1985: 93). He further added that articulations are not permanent. Rather they are subject to change and can be influenced and inflected by alternative

While the promotional role of the newspaper has diminished since the unabashed cheerleading that occurred in the first half of the 20th century, a sports section today remains dependent on promoting the sports that it covers, both to create reader interest to sell newspapers and to create community interest to make the event well-attended enough to justify the media coverage. The arrangement between the team and the newspaper remains a tenuous but symbiotic relationship, fraught with both tension and appreciation for what one does for the other. “[O]ne of the happiest relationships in American society is that between sports and media. This interface is delightfully symbiotic, since each helps the other survive” (Michener, 1976, p. 285).

Stuart Hall furthered this concept of articulation. For him, articulation ‘has the considerable advantage of enabling us to think of how specific practices articulated around contradictions which do not all arise in the same way, at the same point, in the same moment, can nevertheless be thought together. The structuralism paradigm thus does — if properly developed — enable us to begin really to conceptualize the specificity of different practices (analytically distinguished, abstracted out), without losing its grip on the ensemble which they constitute. (Hall, 1980a: 69)

In an oft cited quotation, Hall says of the media:

What is being articulated and put forth in the Indian media’s dealings with football is worth looking at. The coverage of local football in both the English and Hindi press is limited. As far as screenings are concerned, most matches are not televised and those televised are never advertised. The impression given is that this is a dying league with nothing exciting for the fan to watch or invest in. The English Premier League, however, is a different story. While not in the same league as cricket, the EPL enjoys much wider coverage. Matches are telecast with regularity and there is major publicity involved. Newspapers and news channels carry scores and updates on a daily basis

Another point to consider here is the link between articulation and the concept of hegemony. Hegemony might be too strong a word but the Indian press does paint a prettier picture of the English Premier League at the expense of the Indian one. Laclau writes that:

“A class is hegemonic not so much to the extent that it is able to impose a uniform conception of the world on the rest of society, but to the extent that it can articulate different visions of the world in such a way that their potential antagonism is neutralized.” (Laclau, 1977: 161)

The Indian league is now a poor distant cousin with the press (especially the English language ones) ensuring that more and more people identify with foreign leagues as opposed to the national one. As a result, football is now being perceived as an upper middle class sport, a far cry from say 10 years ago.

This is going in the right direction. However what you need to give the argument depth and detail is a detailed investigation of some of the commentaries made in India about watching soccer. I am sure that the broadsheets, up market magazines and even some TV coverage will address the phenomenon. In short, your object of study is actually the commentaries made by which members of the Indian media articulate fans and spectators. It is they who tell the general public what it is that the spectators are doing. You will find the theory outlined in my Just Talk, which is on BLE.

Sports journalism

Since the late 19th century, sports news has been a consistent element of most newspapers. However, sports journalism as a profession has continually reinvented itself, and the types of stories deemed acceptable for the sports pages as few as 10 years prior may no longer be acceptable. Because of their separation from the other sections of the newspaper in their goals and in their writing style, sports journalists at American newspapers have developed a distinct voice that sets their writing apart from other forms of newspaper writing.

Newspaper sports sections have carved a niche among a highly specific segment of readers, mostly middle- and upper-class males. Burgeon, Burgeon, and Wilkinson (1981) found that about 40% of newspaper readers read the sports section “most or all” of the time, but also found that 39% of regular newspaper readers rarely or never read the sports section, by far the largest of any section of the newspaper studied.

Football’s role in mass media is obviously one of entertainment. Sports journalism has long been classified by academic research as entertainment writing. Early newspaper accounts of football games were included by newspapers in their entertainment and lifestyles sections before stand-alone sports sections developed toward the end of the late 19th century. Because of this entertainment function, the writing in sports has always tended to be more dramatic and colorful than hard news sections of newspapers, but also presents familiar storytelling motifs to which readers can relate.

Football itself has long been known to be an important component of coverage offered by a newspaper. Stanley Woodward (1949) described the role of the football writer at the 1940s New York Herald-Tribune: “In the fall the football writer becomes the most important man on the paper. The hold this game takes on readers is incredible. Nothing the sports department does in the course of the year produces so wide-spread and so massive a reaction as the football story” (p. 148).

Game coverage and story construction

At the heart of a newspaper’s sports section is coverage of the games themselves. Although some of the organizational structures and language have changed, the basics of the sports game story, or “gamer,” have remained quite static since Woodward’s 1949 description: “By reading the story of a good modern sports writer, you will be able to find out at once which team won, how it won, where it won and what the score was. Secondarily you will be able to find out how many people saw the match, the first names of the important players, the strategic background of the event and what were the spectacular plays” (Woodward, 1949, p. 60).

Those basic rules applied to basic game coverage of all sports, but certain sports required their own certain set of guidelines for coverage, in part establishing journalistic conventions to follow. For example, in another passage, Woodward (1949) goes into more detail about the basics of the football game story: “In the present day the best story has come to be the one which sets forth some of the color of the game and also includes enough accurate description of its progress to satisfy a clientele whose grasp of technicalities no longer may be held in contempt. As a general principle the football story should have the score in the first paragraph, preferably in the first sentence. It should be devoid of animals, Indians and tides until it progresses to a point where the reporter needs synonyms. It should tell quickly how the game was won. It should have something about the crowd and the scene, but description should be woven into the patter rather than plastered all over it” (p. 151-152).

Fensch (1995) gave a similar description, illustrating the lack of change to the basic elements of sports writing over a span of nearly 50 years: “In general, the complete game story, no matter what sport, should contain these elements or items: the final score, usually in the top three paragraphs, often in the first paragraph; names of the teams; when the game took place and where (the where is often in the dateline); key players or outstanding plays or both; coaching strategies; crowd; quotations from players or coaches; injuries; records set during the game; effect of game on league standings; any oddities, length of game, number of penalties, etc.; weather — if a factor in outcome” (p. 74).

Gamers rely on supplying those basic details. Reader expectations play a huge role in what is addressed and what is excluded in a gamer. Often, stories are constructed with the idea that, by the time readers read the story; they will already know some basic details of the game, including the participants or the score. Stories are also constructed by sportswriters who know that, often, the readers have attended the same event as the reporter and are looking for more than a recitation of key plays. Even readers who did not attend the game and did not know anything about it prior to picking up the newspaper have learned a little bit about it by the time they reach the opening line, as Woodward (1949) explained: “By the time the reader gets to the first words you have written, he already has the general facts from the headline, which the copy reader has contributed. What he wants now is expansion and detail. Facts will make the story, if you have the right facts and present them in an order commensurate with the curiosity of the reader” (p. 158).

Frame construction in journalism

Gamers also rely on a structure, or frame, from which to base a story. The very definition of what qualifies as a frame is still the subject of debate. The distinction between themes and frames helps serve as a guide for studying the mass media, but the distinction between the two is often not clear. Different frames are used with similar themes, while different themes are with similar frames. In between, the definition of what is a “theme” and what is a “frame” has no clear definition within scholarly mass media research and are often used interchangeably, although the term “theme” tends to have a narrower theoretical definition than the term “frame.”

Entman (2004) summarized the standard definition of media framing used in academic research: “selecting and highlighting some facets of events or issues, and making connections among them so as to promote a particular interpretation, evaluation, and/or solution” (p. 5).

Gamson (1989) defined a frame as “a central organizing idea for making sense of relevant events and suggesting what is at issue” (p. 157) while Altheide and Snow (1979) defined themes as “a generalizing motif which shows this particular report to be related to other “facts”…thus, the selection of themes and angles is of major importance in providing substance to the news report and defining the practical and organization context in which the report will fit” (p. 90).

Once frames and themes are defined, though, interpretation of what has happened within the frame and how it centers on a certain theme is still subjective based on the observer. Reese (2001, pp. 11-12) said mass media frames carry several components: They organize; they are based on principles and are not the same as the texts themselves; they are shared, to make them significant; they are persistent and carry over time; they are revealed in symbolic forms of expression; and they organize into patterns. Entman (2004, p. 6) also addressed how frames have both resonance and magnitude. Resonance defines a frame’s ability for potential influence; magnitude addresses prominence and repetition of the frame.

Additionally, Hertog and McLeod (2001, pp. 142-143) gave frames five roles: Frames help determine what information is relevant to a discussion; they define the roles played by individuals and groups; they outline ways beliefs, values and actions are related; they are used symbolically (with words) and the frame influences the symbols used; and they outline values and goals inherent in a specified area of discussion.

Focus, perspective, and timing of events help create situations, but those ways of perceiving a situation can vary from person to person, leading to different interpretations of the same situation (Goffman, 1974). Therefore, journalists play a powerful interpretive role in society, helping set the terms for appropriate interpretations of complicated events. What journalists choose to stress, or, conversely, not to stress, in writing about an event influences the way in which that event is interpreted by the members of a society. McCombs (2004) drew the parallel between framing and agenda-setting theory, in which mass media tell readers less what to think and more what to think about. Scheufele (1999) drew larger generalized parallels between studies of framing and wider analysis of media effects

The availability of numerous frames helps give journalists options for defining the frame of a news story, but a frame in its very construction also excludes certain elements of an issue from being included as relevant in a discussion. Without a frame — or, in other terminology, a base — from which to build, the journalist can provide the facts but does not help the news consumer interpret the news event. Goffman (1974) explained that, once applied, a frame “is expected to enable us to come to terms with all events in that activity” (p. 347).

Entman (2002) said the bits of information highlighted in a frame make those aspects more meaningful, noticeable and memorable, and the increased salience readers experience makes the information easier to perceive and process. Frames, then, serve four roles: defining problems, diagnosing causes, making moral judgments and suggesting remedies. One sentence may serve all four roles, but entire frames may not include any of the roles (p. 392).

Van Gorp (2010) said journalists play a role in the public’s construction of meaning and reality simply by using the form of a news story. “They cannot tell stories effectively without preconceived notions about how to order story elements and about what meanings they could or should impose upon those story elements” (p. 84).

Frames are also defined by both inclusion and exclusion. Edelman (1993) described the social world as “a kaleidoscope of potential realities, any of which can be readily evoked by altering the ways in which observations are framed and categorized” (p. 232). Certain facts are ascribed newsworthiness simply by their inclusion alone; other facts can be de-emphasized or excluded from the realm of relevance by their exclusion. Therefore, choice of a certain frame helps lead reporters to choose certain facts to fit the working frame of the story (Gamson, 1989, p. 158).

What to include and what to exclude is driven by a number of factors. Pan and Kosicki (1993, p. 57) said news texts are written by journalists who operate with systematic rules, guided by working theories of news media, roles, conventions, structures of discourse, and anticipated audience responses.

Frames can also act on different objects at different times. Frames, when used as part of a reporting process, can frame three different types of objects: events, issues, and actors (actors can be either individuals or groups). News stories can frame more than one object at a time, and it is the gaps between these three objects that can expose media shortcomings that audiences can fill in on their own or ignore (Entman, 2004, p. 23).

Framing is a part of a greater media interaction that includes themes, formatting, and discourse (Altheide, 1996). Formatting includes selection, organization, and presentation within media. For example, as Altheide (1996, p. 29) explains, news consumers can easily tell the difference between a newscast, a sitcom and a talk show within the medium of television. Frames, then, refer to the structure of the report more so than its content, or “very broad thematic emphases or definitions of a report, similar to the border around a picture that separates it from the wall and from other possibilities” (Altheide, 1996, p. 30). Themes relate more directly to story construction methods “used by journalists who have a short time to tell a story that their audience can recognize and that they have probably heard before and, moreover, to get specific information from sources that can be tied to this” (Altheide, 1996, p. 30). Discourse is defined by Altheide as the “parameters of relevant meaning” used for discussion of topics (1996, p. 31).

Frame construction in sports journalism

Construction of a sports story begins with the lead paragraph, and the lead helps define the theme of the story, the direction the writer wants to take the reader. A lead or introduction of print news stories is “a critical stylistic component, for it is the lead that must successfully entice news consumers to attend to the news story” (Johnson-Cartee, 2005, p. 122). Numerous lead formats have long been available to sportswriters, and the list has not changed much over the past four decades. Gelfand and Heath (1969, p. 32-36) identified 17 different types of leads that could be used in sports writing: quotation; question; dialogue; descriptive; astonisher; punch; figurative; literary allusion; first person or eye witness; contrast; epigram; staccato; 1-2-3-4 lead; direct address; simple statement; verse; freak. Almost three decades later, Fensch (1995) identified 25 different sports writing leads, a list quite similar to the list established by Gelfand and Heath: anecdotal lead; “big play” lead; classified ad lead; comparison-contrast lead; delayed climax lead; descriptive lead; “epic game” lead; “false” lead; future lead; “I” lead; interior monologue lead; “letter to” lead; “list” head; literary reference lead; news lead; news reference lead; prominent name lead; question lead; quotation lead; simile (or metaphor) lead; statistics lead; statement lead; summary lead; “theme” lead; timeline lead; “you” lead; combination leads. Therefore, it can be summarized that many of the themes used by sportswriters today had long been available to informed sportswriters.

As noted previously, frames and themes must go deeper than a lead to provide a way to process and understand the information presented in a news story. Themes may be predefined before entering a story or may be defined after research is complete (Altheide and Snow, 1979), but themes and frames aid in a story’s construction by giving the writer a base from which to work. Journalists use themes and frames to make sense of new information, in turn leading to predictable, repeated structures. Therefore, the conventions used by journalists give a distinct structure to certain types of stories, including football gamers. Football gamers will be built differently than stories about state government or business stories, but the structures and conventions of the “typical” gamer are used by newspaper journalists across the profession.

Knoppers and Elling (2004) observed that sports journalists tend to remain in the sports department and do not fluctuate between departments as often as writers from other sections of the newspaper. This helps create a journalistic subculture in which conventions and traditions entrench more deeply and are more resistant to change, leading to more uniformity in perspectives on acceptable and unacceptable methods for reporting and writing.

Sports writing also puts more focus on cadence and rhythm than news writing does. Sports writers are often told to listen for repetition and pacing of words and phrases. Sports writers are much more focused than news reporters on this “style,” and are instructed to make their stories “sing” (Fensch, 1995, p. 167). Additionally, sports stories tend to use more “color” than news stories and with a quicker “tempo” (Gelfand and Heath, 1969, p. 19).

These professional conventions help give sports stories a consistent structure, a structure that creates predictability for readers and writers alike. Because of those conventions, it does not matter much who is writing the sports story, as long as they are versed in the conventions and standards of the profession. Koppett (1981) said readers often assume that individual reporters express individual views or the views of a strict policy guideline of that newspaper, not realizing the conventions and standards carry more weight than the individuals responsible for carrying them out: “In reality, there are few “views? And fewer “instructions. The policy decision that counted was the one to cover or carry the event. What follows is more or less automatic and the results are remarkably similar, in the end, no matter who the individual reporter is” (Koppett, 1981, p. 90).

However, these conventions do not mean that every single gamer is built in the same way. Although the conventions help guide the construction, no two stories can be built the same way because of variations within the games themselves — variations in what transpires on the field and what interviews are conducted off of it. Gelfand and Heath (1969, p. 19-20) put it simply, “[N]o absolute formula can be applied to the construction of a sports story.”

This is especially true of football, with 22 players executing numerous plays each game: “The game itself has so many phases and complications and its players and coaches are such good subjects for supplementary writing that football offers more opportunities for varied coverage than any other sport” (Woodward, 1949, p. 149).

Anderson (1985) observed: “There is no magic formula for organizing a football game story. Many games quite simply do not lend themselves to a summary lead in which the who, what, when, where, why, and how are jammed into a rapid-fire staccato first paragraph, followed by direct quotations, followed by scoring plays, and concluded with leftover tidbits” (p. 67).

Narrative and interpretive processes in sports writing

Touching on sports journalism’s inherent contradiction, Boyle (2006) asserted that a reliance on heroes and myths, often seen in contemporary sports writing circles as an old-fashioned, hackneyed approach to sports journalism, is nevertheless an inherent part of the sports narrative and in Western culture as a whole. “On one hand, as a journalist you face the challenge of telling the story as you find it and often have to resist the temptation to simply run with the “media pack?. While on the other, you must recognize that at the cultural and commercial core of the sports industry is the process of myth-making, with sports journalists a central element in that process” (p. 23).

In short, football stories tend to follow no single pattern. Numerous themes and angles within the frame of high school football are based on need, insight, and opportunism. Even once formed, the stories do not illustrate a single thought pattern or a single method of interpretation. Despite the powerful pull of technology and convention, the game itself remains open to each writer’s own experiences and interpretive frameworks. Although influential, the media have not yet become the sole interpretive method for the audience of a football game. Oriard (1993) explained this conundrum: “Football neither reinforces nor undermines existing power arrangements; it tells stories that serve individual needs from wherever they arise. In the 1990s as in the 1890s, football generates multiple narratives about work, gender, race, and success, many of our most hopeful and most disturbing fantasies. Print and electronic media powerfully influence our ideas about these matters, yet without resolving our conflicting beliefs into a single master narrative” (p. 282).

Chapter-3-Methodology

James D. Startt and William David Sloan broadly define communication history to be an integration of subject matter into the general currents of history. They also suggest that the topic of the research should be clearly defined and significant. All primary and secondary sources relating to the topic should be exhausted, thus providing the researcher with a sense of historical understanding. By compiling a complete record and evaluating the meaningful and accurate sources, Startt and Sloan explain that the researcher’s writing will include an explanation of the time and setting (James D. Startt and William David Sloan, 1989)

This qualitative study will examine trends in newspaper coverage of English Football Premier League in India to determine its role in popularizing English football in India. This study will include newspaper articles, television clippings and features published on the topic, tracking and analyzing the how the coverage has undergone. Various aspects of the sports “gamer,” including descriptions, quotations, summaries, and statistics, will be examined to see how they have helped or can help to popularize English football in India. This study will include both a content analysis and a framing (theme) analysis.

For this purpose the researcher has used primary and secondary sources. The primary sources include interviews with sports and media journalists like Darren Caldeira – Professional Indian footballer, Karthik Krishnaswamy – Sports Journalist/Reporter, Kunaal Majgaonkar – Sports Journalist/Reporter with TOI also avid football watchers and followers like Pradyumna Jairam and/or Suryavir Sood. Secondary sources for the current study were websites related to football such as goal.com and sportskeeda.com and two major newspapers reports- The Hindu and the Times of India- and sports news channel coverage — CNN or ESPN.

Data Sources and Collection

Multiple data sources can be incorporated into a case study to view a phenomenon from various angles and to complement with each other sources. Two data sources of evidence were used in the present study: personal interviews as a primary source and published content in the major newspapers, magazines and on websites as a secondary source. Personal interviews form the foundation for the current research, while secondary sources provide additional support for the research.

Personal Interviews

Data for the present study were mainly gathered through personal interviews with spots journalists and personnel related to Indian Football. The interviews were intended to obtain descriptive data related to media coverage of EPL and its role in popularizing English Football in India. It appeared that in-person interviews would provide a great depth of information about a research topic that other researchers had hardly collected before. Taylor and Bogdan (1998) claim, interviewing provides a useful means of access particularly when researchers are interested in understanding the perceptions of participants.

Content Analysis

Content analysis allows for inferences from texts. These inferences can then be used to test hypotheses (Carney, 1972). Those inferences can describe the message itself, the senders of the message, or the message receivers (Weber, 1990).

In its basic, most stripped form, content analyses focus on the “message” portion of the well-known Source-Sender-Message-Channel-Receiver model of communication, as well as encoding and decoding processes used by the sources and the receivers (Holsti, 1969). Budd, Thorp, and Donohew (1967) outlined content analysis as a step in this linear model, a step that focused intimately on the message but also on the meaning of the message within the framework of the entire model. That focus allowed for predictions of sources, receivers, and interactions between sources and receivers.

Carney (1972) outlined the nature of content analysis through its tie to semantics and word meaning within a larger context of the normal use of words within a media, a culture, or a population. Semantic differences are often the focus of content analysis and lead to questions of the writer’s tendencies and characteristics and how the writer’s use of words, phrases and sentences places the writer along a stratum of similar writers in the same field.

This study will use content from two websites goal.co and sportkida.com as well as two main newspapers of India Times of India and The Hindu. In addition to this the coverage of football by CNN about EPL and Indian local football will be used.

While content analyses can reveal inferences of texts, senders and receivers, it alone cannot fully reveal ways in which news stories are constructed and it cannot explain why such stories were constructed with emphasis, or de-emphasis, of certain elements present in the contest. In studying the way people read and process in discourse, van Dijk and Kintsch (1983) observed sentences must be studied as part of a discourse and not solely in isolation, as “studying sentences in isolation may tell us something, but it is also possible that it will mislead us” (p. 32). Questions of emphasis and de-emphasis are better answered with a frame or theme analysis.

In defining frames and themes for this study, the definition of formats, frames, themes, and discourse outlined by Altheide (1996, pp. 28-33), cited earlier, will be used. This study will also use Entman (2004) categorization of frames, cited earlier, by actors, events, and issues.

Combining theme and content analyses

Combining frame/theme analyses with content analyses is uncommon in communication research but has been encouraged, at least theoretically, by researchers such as Entman (2002): “The major task of determining textual meaning should be to identify and describe frames; content analysis informed by a theory of framing would avoid treating all negative or positive terms or utterances as equally salient and influential. & #8230; Unguided by a framing paradigm, content analysis may often yield data that misrepresent the media messages that most audience members are actually picking up” (p. 396).

This description follows the preferred path of content analysis outlined by Krippendorff (1980): “Presumably, the reason for content analyzing mass communications is rooted in the conviction that mass media, beyond being merely entertaining, reflect (social-economical-) institutional arrangements in society, are powerful molders of public opinion, or are perhaps causally connected with several social pathologies” (p. 171).

These analyses will be able to address various theoretical aspects of mass media, their ties to communities and cultures, and their role as a media/mediator between the event and the audience. This process is, in part, defined by what Andrews, Mason, and Silk (2005) call “situating sport” (p. 11). “Situating sport” means placing sports as “an element of the cultural terrain within a wider cultural politics” (p. 10) and is outlined in several ways — economic, political, aesthetic, gendered, historical, ethnographic, and textual contexts all included. While all of these elements will not be the focus of the present study, they will help to define ways in which stories were framed and constructed.

The theoretical framework of content and framing analysis outlined previously will guide the present study, a content and theme/frame analyses that will focus on the coverage provided by the Times of India, The Hindu and CNN of the English football.

Chapter-4 Results and Discussion

For the current study the author used Times of India, The Hindu, goal.com and sportkida.com as well as interviews with four sports journalists and one Indian footballer to explore the media coverage of EPL in India and how they playing their part in determining its image in India.

This chapter is an analysis of data obtained from both primary and secondary resources. The chapter is divided into two parts. Part-1 is an analysis of published content about the research topic and part two is an analysis of qualitative data.

Media commentaries about EPL in India

Indian media is playing a positive role and the content available in newspapers, magazines and TV Channels show that EPL has gradually become popular in India as now its rights are being sold on local TV networks and there are sponsors from India. Viewership of football has also increased as compared to previous years. There are also comparisons of Cricket and Football in media and it is being said that Cricket is undoubtedly the top sport in the country but football and EPL is moving forward and getting popular.

Times of India is creating a positive image of EPL For evidence, here are some of the headlines are;

India’s EPL link gets stronger (TOI, 5 August, 2011)

EPL team Tottenham Hotspur eyes tie-up in India (TOI, 5 August, 2011)

Soccer craze in Kolkata just like EPL, says Darby (TOI, 28 July, 2011)

Rising Popularity of EPL in India

First of all it is important to mention here a recent article on EPL describing interest of Indian advertisers and investors in EPL matches. Samidha Sharma (2011) has discussed the rising popularity of EPL in India saying that “The match happens at a time when football has been gaining popularity among Indian advertisers”

The journalist has stated that Barclays English Premier League (EPL) is getting sold out much earlier this season as compared to previous year. Mr. Sharma has also quoted ESPN STAR Sports spokesperson who said, “Football is the fastest growing sport in India and after cricket it is the most followed by fans. The growth pattern of football over the years has been multi-fold.” An increase of 64.2 million viewers in 2010 as compared to 2009 is also the proof of rising popularity of EPL in India. (Samidha Sharma, CNN, 2011)

Where there is appreciation of EPL, there is also criticism from the experts and commentators. One such example is the latest article published in TOI (Times of India) on 28th August 2011 saying that;

“the different styles adopted by the English club and its continental rivals reflects the EPL’s “greed is good” attitude as opposed to the stronger community development commitment clubs in Spain have.” (TOI, 2011)

AIFF is Promoting Indian Football Team

There is no difference in media coverage of Indian Football and English Football. Media is almost equally covering events. A look at content from TOI shows that Indian Football is improving its standard and FIFF is promoting the team and game by expending money on marketing and hiring coaches for training of the team.

AIFF President ‘Praful Patel’ said at a media conference; “Our aim is to break into the top 100 in three years. We have been sliding in the rankings consistently. We need to develop the infrastructure as well as concentrate on grass roots level development. That is possible only by making it totally professional,” He also said

“We have qualified for the Asian Cup after 26 years. We have a good coach (Bob Houghton) and all the selected footballers are being paid what they would have earned contractually with their clubs plus 15 per cent. We hope we would do well,” he said.

Media is also giving coverage by publishing news about different events as well as performance of the players. Some of the recent headlines say;

Raju Gaikwad to lead Pre-Olympic side (TOI, 16-06-2011)

Indian football team to leave for West Indies on Saturday (TOI, 13-08-2011)

Indian football team starts campaign against Kuwait (TOI, 27-10-2010)

Indian football team to play Hong Kong on October 4 (TOI, 24-09-2010)

We want Indian football team in top 100 in 3 years: AIFF chief (TOI, 18-09-2010)

Bob Houghton fails to hide skeletons (TOI, 09-09-2010)

Argentine goalkeepers have a feel of the Kolkata turf (The Hindu, 31-08-2011)

Legends Banerjee, Goswami hail Bhutia (The Hindu, 25-08-2011)

AIFF counting the positives (The Hindu, 01-09-2011)

“Football in India has always been a poor man’s sport. The bulk of the 100 million that come for the Kolkata derbies are from low income groups. But the ticket pricing for this game and the quick sale of it has proved that the game does have a huge following amongst the upper-middleclass and the upper-class,” AIFF Vice-President Subrata Dutta said. ((The Hindu, 01-09-2011)

Cricket Verses Football

Cricket is the most popular game in India and Indians are crazy about it but recently there has been seen a scope for football and this is evident from the fact that World Cup TV rights were sold for $3m in 2002 while for the 2010 tournament the rights have been sold for $40million. English Football is aware of that factor but Mr. Kenyone stated that Football is a game of youth while cricket considered as a game that fathers see. There is potential that India’s local football will get the lead as there is excitement and interest among young boys for this game.

The growing interest of brand in EPL matches in India is the proof of its rising popularity “The Indian youth is increasingly getting global and with that is watching sports like tennis, football and Formula One. This population is about 25-30 million and is growing rapidly and brands who are looking to invest ahead of time are jumping on to the non-cricket platforms,” said Gowthaman Ragothaman, Leader, Mindshare South Asia, the country’s largest media planning agency.

“While cricket in India is considered a religion, we cannot underestimate the increasing popularity of other international sports as they act as an ideal platform to connect with our audiences by offering a differentiated experience while providing stickiness to the brand,” said a Vodafone spokesperson (Samidha Sharma, CNN, 2011)

Interview Analysis

The researcher conducted interviews with prominent sports and media journalists Professional Indian footballer, Karthik Krishnaswamy – Sports Journalist/Reporter, Kunaal Majgaonkar – Sports Journalist/Reporter with TOI also avid football watchers and followers like Pradyumna Jairam and/or Suryavir Sood.

Following is a detailed analysis of the interviews;

1. Please describe your involvement in football? How long have you been attached to the sports journalism?

All the interviewees were related to football and had been in touch with EPL football matches in India. All of them described that they are “interested in the local and the European leagues. Right from football transfers to players lives read about them in the newspaper articles, magazines and online football sites”

2. What is your opinion about football media production in India as regards Local Football league & English Premier League?

The sports journalists and footballer informed that The AIFF (All India Football Federation) is aware of the importance of media production to promote football in India as it has been a cricket crazy country. They also described that media coverage has been increased during the last few years and newspapers and TV channels regularly telecast local games as well as there are advertisements on the leagues on certain TV channels.

While asked about the media coverage and popularity of EPL in India, all of them described that the popularity of English Premier League in India is huge because their matches are telecasted on the two major sports channels in India that are ESPN and Star Sports. In addition to that there are different shows on the English League where football experts discuss every team, players, strong and weak points etc. Further newspaper and magazines also give news about the English Premier League.

3. How do you see the football content available to viewers in India?

The interviewees described that local football as well as European Leagues get appropriate media coverage and there always a lot of content on television, newspapers about them. Newspaper print different articles for the covering of English League particularly the big teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United.

4. How do you see the current popularity of English Football Premier League in India? Is there an increase or decrease in the viewership?

This question was included to explore the trend in popularity of EPL as well as local football. The interview data show that the popularity of English Premier League is growing. “Sports Journalist from TIO said “its popularity is just growing every season. Its viewership is definitely growing.”

5. Do you think that Indian Media is promoting English Football? Is media playing a positive role in popularizing English Football?

The response from interviewees show that media gives importance and coverage to EPL because it is popular in India and has a growing viewership. One journalist stated that “The media make sure they’re always covering the English League as you always have viewers who want to read about the English League”

6. Is there a scope for EPL in India? If yes, To What extent?

From the responses it is evident that EPL has a scope in India because though Indian local football is on the rise but it needs time to meet the English Leagues standards. Also some foreign teams have local ownership like Blackburn and they play with local club.

7. What is the future of EPL in India?

All five interviewees were of the view that the future of EPL is very bright in India and are on the rise. Many English teams have set up academies like recently Liverpool set up an academy in Delhi, and in future English League will be more popular than today.

8. How does broadcasting of English Premier League & football contribute to creating a market in India?

Our experts were of the view that there is a big market for EPL in India and broadcasting helps to boost its popularity. This shows the significance of media commentaries on any team.

9. What is the difference in media commentaries of broadcasting of Local club competitions and International Football Competition?

The interviewees confirmed that preference is given to International Leagues in media as compared to local league. The reason they described was local teams are not as popular in India as is English Premier League and “viewers would prefer reading what happens in the EPL over the Indian League. The difference I see is the amount of content in the EPL which is way more than the Indian League.”

10. What influence the EPL has on IPL?

The interviewees were of the view that EPL has a very positive influence on Indian Premier League because IPL tries to follow EPL to improve its standard in all the fields right from infrastructure to marketing the sports. They described that “The Indian Federation takes notes of how things work in the EPL. The Indian Federation tries to rope in big sponsors, to get good grounds and training facilities to match European standards.”

11. How do you describe viewers’ tastes or preferences in your market?

This purpose to include this question was to explore expert opinion about the changing tastes and preferences of viewers. The interviewees were of the view that though Indians are cricket crazy but there is rising fandom of football has been seen in recent years. One of them states that “it is still surprising to see how popular a sport football is. Football is catching up and its viewership is definitely increasing”

12. Do you think viewers or readers in your market receive the EPL matches and related features well?

There was positive response on this question from all the interviewees. They confirmed that a lot of content is available in newspapers, magazines, television about the EPL. The journalists also confirmed that matches are broadcasted regularly and everyone has pretty much access to it.

13. Do you think audiences do not pay much attention to EPL matches due to cultural differences?

The interviewees completed rejected presence of favors for Indian Premier League based on cultural difference. The Journalist from Times of India described that “The EPL is more popular than the local leagues here in India. A football fan would rather own a jersey of an EPL team than a local club. So, I don’t think there is any sort of cultural differences.”

14. Do you think audiences do not pay much attention to EPL matches due to their love for local teams?

Question 14 was included to further clarify the cultural phenomenon. The interviewees were asked if audiences do not pay much attention to EPL matches due to their love for local teams. The response show that though EPL is popular in India but Indian definitely support and love local football teams. One of them states that there are “certain cities in India where the fans are way more passionate about their local teams than what’s happening in the EPL. This does not mean they don’t pay attention to the EPL; it’s just that if they had their local team playing and an EPL game on at the same time. They would watch their local team play.”

15. To what extent the media influences the audience

“The media plays a crucial role in bringing the EPL to India. With its articles it gives us a certain perspective on players, teams etc.”

The above statement shows the significance media commentaries in popularizing EPL in India. Also media has power to develop perspective on players, teams and matches.

16. How do you see your audience as regards English football?

The objective behind inclusion of Question 16 was to explore the perceptions of Journalists about football audience. Because any sport is given importance in news by media on the basis of its viewership. The interviewees confirmed that football audience in India is very large and increasing day by day. They also informed that “EPL is the most viewed league here in India”

17. .What you presume your reader will like?

The responses of the interviewees show that mostly readers are interested in the news and features about the lives of footballers, team profiles, player profiles, transfer news, expert opinions etc.

18. Do you believe that the commentary itself affect the fan?

“Normally fans have their own perspective about a player or a team…but articles on them by football experts can have a slight effect on them”

It is clear from the above statement that media commentaries are not of much influence in popularizing any support and it is fans choice and preferences as what they want to read and view yet media commentaries slightly influence them.

19. What are your views about sports/Football? Is there a difference as compared to a fan’s view of the sport?

The journalists said that they view football/sport in a professional way as well as write articles in a realistic way considering the characteristics of a team while fans have affiliation to a team or player and they support them.

The author also interviewed footballer who stated that “being professional footballer, football is everything to me and I’m very passionate about it. There are plenty of fans who don’t play the sport but are equally passionate about it as they love the sport.”

20. Do you agree with the statement that “the image of the EPL in India determined by the media commentaries on it?

This was very important question being the main research question of current study. The responses of the interviewees show that media commentaries have any influence on the current position of EPL in India. All of them stated that media is a medium for EPL to reach its fans but it is not much influential as regards the image of EPL in India.

One interviewee stated; “The EPL has already set in and I don’t think the articles make too much of a difference. The articles help in reaching out to the fans but I don’t think the EPL is determined by it in any way”

21. As we see, there is a craze for Cricket and it is the most popular sport how do you compare Cricket and Football? Please give your views?

Comparing cricket and football the interviewees said that Cricket definitely is the major sport in India and it has reached an ultimate level of popularity among Indians. At present both sports can’t be compared as one is at top and other (football) is emerging and becoming popular “but Football is definitely on the rise. Football may not get to the level of cricket but it is certainly is moving forward.”

22. What do you predict about the future of football in India? Also describe your views about the future of local football & English football?

“Football is fast growing and its future seems bright. With the Indian National team qualifying for major tournaments like the ASIA CUP it is certainly a step forward. The AIFF has been trying to build a fan base and pump in money to make the local leagues as professional as possible. To some extent they are getting the job done. Indian football is getting better every year and seems to have a good future. As far as the EPL is concerned, it is already a big market and with top English teams coming down to India, playing friendliest, starting football academies it is only going to get bigger.”

The above statement is a proof of rising popularity of football in India. It is also evident that AIFF is making efforts to improve local football by spending money on marketing, developing fan base and training of the team to improve its standard. The interviewees were also hopeful about the future of EPL in India because it is an established league in the world having a standard team and players and in India it will become more popular with the passage of time.

23. In the end what do you recommend to the local football team as well as for media policy about English Football Premier League?

Mostly, the interviewees recommended that Indian Football League should follow English Premier League and where necessary should get assistance from experts from EPL in for example club management. They described that Indian Premier League needs more time and training to meet the standard of EPL but with good management “strong corporate support Indian football will definitely get better.”

Conclusion

The basic research question of the study was whether media commentaries have any influence on popularizing EPL in India and if there is difference in the coverage of Indian local football as compared to international football. For this purpose the researcher used coverage of EPL football by Indian media particularly print media as well as conducted interviews with journalists and personnel related to local football.

From content analysis it is evident that EPL is becoming popular and has a rising viewership. There is significant increase in fans from 2006 to now. Though India is a cricket crazy country, there is scope for football.

One significant finding of the study is that EPL has a rising fan base and media is just a medium to reach fans and not has much influence on image construction of EPL team.

Main themes

Four main themes emerged from the results of the study;

Media coverage has no significant influence

It is evident from content analysis and interviews that there is no significant difference in the coverage of EPL and Indian local football by media. Our interviewees were of the view that media is a medium for EPL to reach its fans but it is not much influential as regards the image of EPL in India. Media commentaries are not of much influence in popularizing any support and it is fans choice and preferences as what they want to read and view yet media commentaries slightly influence them.

Rising popularity of football in India

Football has become popular and there are predictions of its becoming more popular in future. International matches are being telecasted. The viewers of football are mostly middle and upper middle class. Being a country with vast population India has potential to become a market for football and other internationally popular spots.

Rising viewership of EPL and international Teams in India

EPL has its viewership which is rising day by day. Seeing its popularity in India, Indian sponsors are purchasing the teams and tournaments’ rights. EPL has established clubs and academies in India. And there is scope of its becoming more popular. Our experts were of the view that there is a big market for EPL in India and broadcasting helps to boost its popularity. This shows the significance of media commentaries on any team.

Improving local football

Though at present local football teams are not able to compete with the international or EPL teams yet, AIFF is trying its best to achieve this standard through training and marketing.

The interviewees were of the view that EPL has a very positive influence on Indian Premier League because IPL tries to follow EPL to improve its standard in all the fields right from infrastructure to marketing the sports. They described that “The Indian Federation takes notes of how things work in the EPL. The Indian Federation tries to rope in big sponsors, to get good grounds and training facilities to match European standards.”

Cricket verses Football

Cricket is the top sport in the country and football may not reach its level in popularity but there is scope for it to be second famous game.

Comparing cricket and football the interviewees said that Cricket definitely is the major sport in India and it has reached an ultimate level of popularity among Indians. At present both sports can’t be compared as one is at top and other (football) is emerging and becoming popular “but Football is definitely on the rise. Football may not get to the level of cricket but it is certainly is moving forward.”

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