The photographic coverage of professional football & college basketball championships now transcends the actual athletic performances. Evidence for this?
Only half the photographic coverage of both the Super Bowl and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship actually pictured the games themselves.
The four pie charts and 10 bar graphs below give a comparative overview of how 16 major news and sports websites covered the Super Bowl and the NCAA men’s basketball championship game — how much attention media gave to the “game,” and how much to to the surrounding entertainment culture.
The pie charts highlight the following points:
- News outlets, taken overall, covered the “game” of football and basketball in remarkably similar ways. Across the 16 sports and news outlets considered in the SportPix study, researchers found that roughly half of the photographs of the two events covered the on-the-field and on-the-court action, together with shots of players, coaches and scenes on the sidelines. There were distinctions in what those “game” photos showed, but most of the differences reflected how the sports themselves are played — far more goal opportunities in basketball, for instance, led to three times more shots of scoring play in the NCAA than Super Bowl coverage.
- But there were significant differences in what was covered beyond the play action. Media covering the Super Bowl committed a significant percentage of their “sports hole” to photographs of Beyoncé’s halftime show, to general scenes of New Orleans and the stadium, and even to photos of the famed Super Bowl ads — in other words, the entertainment culture surrounding the game. Media covering the NCAA Championship, by contrast, committed a significant percentage of their coverage to the fans, the award ceremony and the post-game celebration — in other words, media more focused on the “sport” of the event.
For a more in-depth evaluation, consider the following bar graphs below. They document how the specific sports outlets evaluated in this study apportioned their photo coverage of the Super Bowl and the NCAA Championship game among various categories of coverage, from on-the-field action to halftime coverage to post-game pictures.
- Note for example that news outlets across the board ran more photos of the winners — Baltimore Ravens and the Louisville Cardinals — than the losers… LOTS more. Some of that imbalance was due to extensive post-game coverage, but not all of it. Sports outlets also ran more photos of plays by the winning teams than by the losing teams.
Click each graph to see larger versions. Note several of the charts show the coverage of more than one media outlet.
The following bar graphs roughly show how the hometown outlets of each team in the Super Bowl (the Baltimore Sun & the San Francisco Chronicle) and the NCAA Championship (the Detroit Free Press & the Louisville Courier Journal) — as well as the online papers for the venues of the games (Atlanta Journal Constitution & the New Orleans Times Picayune) apportioned their photo coverage among various categories of coverage, from on-the-field action to halftime coverage to post-game pictures.
Click each graph to see larger versions.