Sports in first place

Photo: Šime Zelić/PIXSELL

Sports is probably the only mass media content that is watched in real time, and whose loyal audience is regularly glued to the screens. What is the synergy between sports and show business? Do journalists get on the athletes’ nerves? How are brands created in sports? What will the World Cup be like this year when we’ll be drinking mulled wine instead of beer? Marko Šapit, editor of the sports newsroom at HRT; Damjan Rudež, retired basketball player and director of the Sunset Sports Media Festival; Sandra Perković, Olympic discus champion, and Pete Radovich, VP of Production & Senior Creative Director at CBS SPORTS, discussed these and related topics on the phenomenon of sports from different perspectives on the “Sport in first place” panel moderated by Martina Validžić.

“In sports, everyone knows how difficult it is to get a good result. Sport instills pride, patriotism and is the best way of communication. People have a natural desire to belong, and sport enables us to do that. It’s our desire and willpower that instills hope in others to realize their dreams,” explained Sandra Perković.

Photo: Šime Zelić/PIXSELL

When asked if sports will save live television, Damjan believes that it will, and the reason is simple – sports needs to be watched live because during and after the game a whole microcosm takes place on social networks and it makes no sense to watch it afterwards.

Athletes should exercise a certain degree of caution when communicating with journalists. For example, in the NBA, the collective agreement stipulates that media appearances are approached positively and with lots of preparation. “We used to have media training where crisis situations are practiced. In the end, that makes sense – everything together, players, branding, and image are all part of the package that is sold as the NBA,” said Rudež.

Photo: Šime Zelić/PIXSELL

Synergy between domestic media and athletes

Šapit emphasized that he personally had no unpleasant situations in communication with athletes because he believes that as long as journalists are fair and correct towards them, they will reciprocate in kind. His opinion is shared by Sandra Perković, who believes that despite fame and fortune – one should still remain humble.

Pete Radovich believes that great sport and great storytelling are a winning combination. “It’s 100% showbiz. Water polo is the perfect example. We made a story about Barracudas, in which the players are just caps in the water. The media is therefore the key to conveying and telling the story to people. I also believe that the media is extremely important for the popularization of sports, as well as athletes.