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The media construction of Simon Whitfield : producing a Canadian Olympic champion 2003

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T H E M E D I A C O N S T R U C T I O N O F S I M O N W H I T F I E L D : P R O D U C I N G A C A N A D I A N O L Y M P I C C H A M P I O N by S I M O N C . D A R N E L L B .H .K . , T h e Univers i ty of Brit ish C o l u m b i a , 1999 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F M A S T E R O F A R T S in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S (Facul ty of Educa t i on ; S c h o o l of H u m a n Kinet ics) W e accep t this thes is a s conforming to the required s tandard : T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A M a r c h 2 0 0 3 © Simon C. Darnell, 2003 in presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date DE-6 (2/88) Abstract This thesis ana lyzes the media coverage and marketing of the Canad ian Olympic athlete S imon Whitf ield. Whitf ield, a 25 year-old from Kingston Ontario, won the first ever gold medal in the Olympic men 's triathlon at the 2000 Sydney G a m e s . The victory propelled him to the status of Canad ian celebrity and afforded him increased commerc ia l opportunities including corporate sponsorsh ips and product endorsements. Th is research combined two methodologies: 1) a textual ana lys is of Canad ian media coverage of Whitfield and a keyword search of the coverage, and 2) interviews with five Canad ian sports journalists that covered Whitfield and four marketing representat ives from compan ies that sponsored Whitfield or employed him as a product endorser. Whitfield was also interviewed to provide an athlete's perspect ive on the media production and marketing p rocesses . The results revealed thematic cons is tenc ies in the Canad ian media coverage of Whitf ield, particularly with respect to Canad ian national identity, the value of an Olympic gold medal and Whitf ield's status as a Canad ian hero. T h e s e results support previous research that found recurring themes of athletic hero ism and myths of Canad ian nat ional ism in the production of C a n a d i a n sports media (MacNei l l , 1996, Gruneau , 1989). Interviews with journalists confirmed the observed e lements of the Whitfield story - his Canad ian identity, gold medal victory, heroic performance, as well as other features (genuine personali ty, athletic good looks) - that made him newsworthy. Cover ing these attributes of Whitfield helped newsmakers to produce news that was attractive to aud iences, and maintained circulation, v iewership, and ad ratings, strengthening the media "audience commodity" (Sparks, 1992). Interviews with marketers revealed that Whitf ield w a s commercia l ly attractive because the meanings assoc ia ted with his media image could be attached to brands through the endorsement and sponsorsh ip p rocess in order to improve brand equity, the value that consumers attribute to a brand of product or serv ice (Keller, 1993). The results support a model of celebrity product endorsement based on the transfer of meanings from the endorser to the product and subsequent ly , to the consumer (McCracken , 1989). Overa l l , the results suggest intertextual l inkages between media production and marketing as they relate to celebrity athletes in C a n a d a . Whitf ield's posit ive media image was understood to impact his marketabil i ty and contributed to a "vortex of publicity" (Wernick, 1991) by linking s tages along the promotional cha in . ii Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents iii List of Tables iv List of Figures v Acknowledgements vi CHAPTER I Introduction 1 CHAPTER II Literature review 6 2.1 Theoretical approach 6 2.2 Mediated sport and sporting celebrity 12 2.3 Celebrity endorsement and consumer engineering 26 2.4 Whitfield: The next step 30 CHAPTER III Methodology 34 3.1 Textual analysis of Media Coverage of Simon Whitfield 34 3.2 Interviews with Media and Marketing Practitioners 40 CHAPTER IV Results 44 4.1 Textual Analysis 44 4.2 Interviews 55 CHAPTER V Discussion 109 Bibliography 128 Appendix 1 Interview Protocol 134 Appendix 2 UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board Certificate of Approval 135 iii List of Tables Table 4.1 - Explanat ion of T h e m e s in coverage of S imon Whitf ield p. 45 Tab le 4.2 - Summary of Journal ist Interviews p. 56 Tab le 4.3 - Summary of Marketer Interviews p. 56 iv List of Figures Graph 4.1 - Whitfield Keyword search : Total Resul ts p. 51 Graph 4.2 - Whitfield Keyword search : L inked Resul ts p. 52 Graph 4.3 - Whitfield Keyword search : C B C television p. 53 Graph 4.4 - Whitfield Keyword search : Newspaper and C B C television p. 54 v Acknowledgements Many thanks to the following people: To Bob , Brian and Stephen, for their t ime, effort and suggest ions To T e d , Sydney and the entire Annex crew for coffee breaks and brainstorms To M o m , for unending support, in grammar and in life A n d last, but not least, to Carr ie for being there every step of the way - S i m o n vi Chapter I - Introduction This thesis examines the media coverage and marketing of a Canad ian athlete: S imon Whitf ield. Whitf ield, a 25 year-old from Kingston, O N won the first ever gold medal in the Olympic triathlon at the 2000 S u m m e r G a m e s in Sydney , Austra l ia . The victory propelled Whitf ield, a relative unknown prior to the event, on a rapid ascent to the status of celebrity athlete, product endorser and Canad ian Olympic hero. A crucial e lement of his ascens ion w a s the positive press and television coverage he received in the Canad ian commerc ia l media . Celebratory stories about Whitf ield's victory contributed to the construct ion of his posit ive media image and helped to create sponsorsh ip and endorsement opportunit ies. T h e s e stories tended to emphas ize three themes: Whitf ield's victory, his identity as a Canad ian national hero, and his commerc ia l rewards for winning the gold medal . T h e s e themes were oftentimes interwoven in the accounts of his win and linked his ach ievements with prominent myths about sport and national life. I use the term myth in the sense of deep, cultural understandings that resonate emotionally with socia l groups (Miracle & R e e s , 1994; R o w e , M c K a y & Miller, 1998; MacNe i l l , 1996; G runeau & Whi tson, 1993). Accord ing to R o w e et a l . : "My ths are not total de lus ions or utter f a l sehoods , but partial truths that accen tua te part icular ve rs ions of reality and marg ina l i ze or omit o thers in a m a n n e r appea l i ng to deep -sea ted emot ions" ( R o w e et a l . , 1998, p. 121). 1 Two myths especia l ly prevalent with respect to Whitfield were the myths of sporting nat ional ism wherein sport is seen to create national pride and unity, and the myth of victory as the prime goal of sport participation. The mythological construction of Whitfield as a Canad ian icon and national hero provides a useful opportunity to explore the connect ion of sport and nat ional ism in C a n a d a and the role that commercia l media play in this construct ion. Nat ional ism remains c losely tied to sport despi te the blurred definition of the nation state in the face of global izat ion (Rowe et a l . , 1998; Bla in , Boy le , & O 'Donne l l , 1993). Mediated sports events serve to create and legitimize the political norms of ci t izenship (Rowe et a l . , 1998), yet the creation of nationalist mythologies can be problematic in that it narrows the accepted definition of c i t izenship in the nation state and serves to reinforce hegemonic socia l relations: " T h e m e d i a sport ing nation is s h o w n to be deep ly g e n d e r e d , tend ing to o b s c u r e and legi t imize not only h e g e m o n i c gende r d iv is ions, but a l so those that app ly to soc ia l c l a s s , to ind igenous peop le and to non -Ang lo /Ce l t i c migrants" ( R o w e et a l . , 1998, p.120). To accept the notion of a s ingular Canad ian culture se rves to depol i t ic ize the contestabil i ty of culture in C a n a d a in terms of c lass , gender, race/ethnicity, and other sources of socia l inequality (Jackson , 1994). The canonizat ion of athletes like Whitfield due to their s u c c e s s in the sports arena a lso potentially serves to legitimize the principle that winning is necessary to make participation in sport meaningful. It normal izes a narrow definition of s u c c e s s that leaves little room in sport for personal ach ievement or for constructing a healthy and active lifestyle. Further, the focus on winning has a 2 potential impact on the epidemic of cheating in high performance sport. Scho la rs have explored the relationship between cheat ing, in particular the use of performance enhancing drugs, and the social and cultural pressure to win (Burstyn, 1990; Beg ley and Brant, 1999). Burstyn (1990, p. 46) cites Kidd 's explanat ion of the play/win relationship, and the carding sys tem for Canad ian athletes, where athletes receive a stipend based on their world ranking: " H o w m a n y C a n a d i a n s are in the top eight in the wor ld in any f ie ld? Imagine mak ing the sa la r ies of C a n a d i a n lawyers or j udges dependen t on that cr i ter ion. But that 's wha t w e do to our ath letes. W e tell them, un less y o u w in , y o u don't eat" (Burs tyn, 1990, p. 46) . The media 's celebration of Whitf ield's gold medal as a symbol of sporting exce l lence reinforces a nearly impossible standard for others to follow and tacitly supports a system that too often uses unethical means to ach ieve victory. By exploring the socia l construction of sports celebrity and sports media in C a n a d a and the resulting marketing opportunities that this construct ion affords, this research will contribute to a better understanding of how media coverage is constructed and the manner in which media narratives influence the culture of sport in C a n a d a as well as the culture of C a n a d a . Th is study is informed by an understanding of the central position of the mass media in contemporary society. The emergence of a media culture in which images are constructed by media producers and subsequent ly consumed and interpreted by aud iences on a mass sca le has meant that med ia have come to play a central role in daily life, influencing beliefs and socia l pract ices. Whi le the full extent of media 'effects' is often debated, the understanding that the mass 3 media saturates and inf luences everyday life in contemporary culture is widely held (Kellner, 1995; O'Sul l ivan, Dutton, & Rayner , 1998). Resea rche rs in media studies and cultural studies have theorized the important role of the media in the process by which individuals construct their identities (Kellner, 1995; Grossberg , Wartel la, & Whitney, 1998). The mass media provide aud iences with many of the cultural materials and reference points from which they construct their percept ions of the socia l wor ld, including their sense of c lass , race, ethnicity, nationality, and gender. This means media are implicated in how people produce a sense of themselves and of others, of both their personal and socia l identities (Grossberg et. a l , 1998). Therefore, a c lear understanding of the media, and how it is constructed, is important for understanding and engaging the socia l and cultural implications of media consumpt ion. The research reported in this thesis has two components : 1) A n examinat ion of the media p rocesses that led to the construction of Whitfield as a hero and a celebrity and 2) an exploration of how this coverage w a s employed by corporate sponsors to help configure Whitfield as a celebrity endorser of their products. Th is study recognizes the product ion/consumption relationship and the important role that aud iences play in interpreting texts, but is concerned with issues of media construct ion, not interpretation. The impetus for this study w a s the privi leged themes used in the media construction of S imon Whitfield and their relationship to the marketing of his media image. The research focuses on how 4 sports media texts are social ly constructed and the professional and commerc ia l p rocesses involved in this construct ion. Severa l key quest ions are addressed : How was S imon Whitf ield portrayed in the Canad ian media after his gold medal victory in S y d n e y ? How w a s his image constructed through the media? W h y was his image created in this particular w a y ? What e lements of the S imon Whitfield story were cons idered newsworthy by the Canad ian press and why? What personal and professional dec is ions made by journalists affected the resulting coverage? How did Whitf ield's construction in the popular press affect his marketability and ability to attract sponsorsh ip? Did marketers and sponsors draw on Whitf ield's media image in their bus iness dec is ions? The thesis is organized into five chapters. Fol lowing this introduction, I provide a review of literature in Chapter 2, outlining prior research. In Chapter 3, I explain the research methodology used in this study. I present the results of the thesis in Chapter 4, and in Chapter 5, I d iscuss the socia l and cultural implications of the results and relate the findings to relevant theory. 5 Chapter II - Literature Review The literature review is organized into four parts. In the first part, I explain my theoretical approach to this study informed by five concepts from media and cultural studies. Second, I discuss theory and research that explores the relationship between mass media, spectator sports and celebrity athletes. Third, I discuss theory and research that examine sports marketing and celebrity product endorsements. Finally, I situate the study within these literatures. The definition of media production used in this chapter is deliberately broad, but primarily refers to the selective reporting of news in the popular press as opposed to the creation of entertainment or spectacle. This is meant to reflect my research focus on the choices made by journalists in shaping sports coverage, the impact of this coverage in terms of marketing and sponsorship, and the cultural implications of these processes. 2.1 Theoretical approach The process of creating news is not a natural one where actual events are directly reported to audiences (Berger & Luckman, 1967). Rather media production is a social process, actively negotiated by media practitioners and often based on personal and professional codes of newsworthiness, good coverage, objectivity, and balance (Gruneau, 1989; Lowes, 1999). This means that gender, race and class-related perspectives and political economic influences that underlie social relations and social processes in broader society are often reflected in the production of the media. As Gruneau (1989) notes, the 6 processes of meaning production in the media are not different in kind from those of life general ly. Mean ing is made by people. "The m e a n i n g s that h u m a n be ings g ive to events a re never natural ly con ta ined within the even ts t hemse l ves . [That is to say] real life d o e s not conta in or p r o p o s e its own integral , s ing le , a n d intr insic m e a n i n g , wh i ch is then neutral ly t ransmit ted to us through l anguage or other s y s t e m s of commun i ca t i on . O n the contrary, mean ing is a soc ia l p roduct ion . . . " ( G r u n e a u , 1989, p .151, d raw ing on Ha l l , 1982 , p.67). In recognition of the socia l p rocess of sports media product ion, research is needed to examine the p rocesses by which sports media coverage is produced and the reasons that it is produced in particular ways . It is on this basis that the study of the socia l p rocesses underlying the var ious product ions of S imon Whitfield as a speci f ic c a s e is a useful contribution to the current understanding of the relationship between media and sport celebrity. Th is research contributes to what Andrews and J a c k s o n (2001, p. 9) refer to as a " . . .cal l to critical interpretive arms" to use speci f ic c a s e s as a means to identify broader condit ions of power, posit ion, and socia l understanding. " W e a d v o c a t e focus ing on a part icular incident or celebr i ty a s the site for exp lor ing the c o m p l e x interrelated and fluid charac te r of power re lat ions a s they a r e const i tu ted a l o n g the a x e s of abil ity, c l a s s , gender , a n d national i ty. E a c h cultural incident offers a un ique si te for unders tand ing spec i f i c ar t iculat ions of p o w e r . . . T h u s these a n a l y s e s t raverse the boundar ies be tween l ived expe r i ence , know ledge product ion, and polit ical p rac t i ces" ( M c D o n a l d & Birrel l , 1999 , p.284; c f . , A n d r e w s & J a c k s o n , 2001) . Gruneau (1989) and Andrews and Jackson (2001) represent a tradition of research that has examined the construction of sporting spec tac les , including sports events and celebrity athletes, and the soc ia l , political and economic implications of these cultural forms. A n important part of this literature, and the focus of my research, is the manner in which these spectac les are reported by the mass media. The commercia l mass media are primarily in the bus iness of 7 developing aud iences that can be sold to advert isers to create profit (Hackett & Gruneau , 2000 ; Lowes , 1999; Rowe , 1999; Sparks , 1992; Jhal ly, 1984). By cover ing events in ways that produce insightful, informative, and/or entertaining news, the media work to construct consistent aud ience segments that attract advert isers wishing to target the segments . It is mainly through this process of creating and sel l ing aud iences to advert isers that commerc ia l med ia organizat ions make money. A s wel l , the effects of global izat ion and convergence among media corporat ions mean that an increasingly smal ler number of media practit ioners are responsible for an increasingly larger proportion of the flow of mediated information (Bogart, 1993). With this in mind, scholars have cal led for a critical analys is of how the bus iness of the media affects the media 's socia l role as political watchdogs and information filters as well as the media 's ability to provide a forum for socia l debate while reflecting the diversity of compet ing viewpoints (Hackett and Gruneau , 2000). In this sense , critical analys is of commerc ia l m a s s media is crucial in order to understand more clearly the implications of an industry that is increasingly focused on aud ience construct ion and profit-maximization. A s Hackett and Gruneau (2000, p. 67) suggest : " W i d e s p r e a d c o n c e r n s about the consumer i s t and b u s i n e s s or ientat ions of the commerc i a l m e d i a in North A m e r i c a n go back d e c a d e s . In the past 15 y e a r s , though, the acce le ra t ing p r o c e s s e s of concent ra t ion , profit max im iza t ion , mul t imedia ownersh ip , and the format ion of cong lomera tes h a s a rguab ly re inforced - and may wel l h a v e d e e p e n e d - the corpora te med ia ' s structural b i a s e s and bl ind spo ts . " It is within this cultural f rame of the contemporary media that i ssues of media coverage are important. Hackett and Gruneau (2000) argue that a critical analys is of media production should go beyond the recognit ion of the mass media as simply cultural filters, and examine the p rocesses , structures, and 8 interests that affect the final coverage, because the media provide a means for individuals to acquire and debate the information and cultural capital required for active and meaningful ci t izenship. Despi te the central role of broadcast media in this p rocess print media in genera l , and newspapers in particular, are still important vehic les for newsgather ing, producing, and d isseminat ing, a point noted by Hackett and Gruneau (2000). " (Newspape rs ) are still immense ly important veh ic les for democra t i c commun ica t i on . A t present , no other m a s s m e d i u m offers the s a m e c o m b i n e d possib i l i t ies for access ib i l i ty , in-depth ana lys i s , potent ial d iversi ty of v iewpo in ts , and sus ta ined ref lect ion on important polit ical and e c o n o m i c i s s u e s . Tha t is w h y w e can ' t ignore them or take them for granted." (Hacket t and G r u n e a u , 2000, p.12) Med ia coverage in its condition as a manufactured product is related to the way that media producers interpret, organize and make s e n s e of the world. In this s e n s e , the mass media are tied to ideology. Lull (1995, p. 6) def ines ideology as : "o rgan ized thought - c o m p l e m e n t s of va l ues , or ientat ions, and pred ispos i t ions forming ideat ional pe rspec t i ves e x p r e s s e d through techno log ica l ly med ia ted and in terpersonal commun ica t i on . " I use ideology in the tradition of Marxist crit iques of mass media product ion, where selected ways of thinking - dominant ideologies - are reinforced by those people in the society that hold political and economic power, a power that s tems from such people 's ability to publicly express their preferred sys tems of ideas (Lull, 1995; Berger 1998). In this framework, the mass media can be considered a tool used by the politically and economical ly powerful to express , through the socia l construction of media texts, va lues that are consistent with the dominant ideology of the culture (Lull, 1995). In turn, media va lues and perspect ives come 9 to inf luence culture more general ly. In other words, the Marxist tradition suggests that individuals within the media culture do not formulate their ideas or construct their identities independent of influence from the mass media , and that knowledge, like the production of media texts, is the result of a ser ies of social p rocesses (Berger, 1998). In this sense , the manner in which media are produced, and the resulting texts that aud iences consume, can potentially inf luence socia l reality. C lose ly l inked to ideology is Gramsc i ' s (1971) concept of hegemony, which descr ibes power and domination existing in a combinat ion of force and consent (Jhally, 1989). Hegemony is a subtle framing of ideological power in that it is not an overt attempt to stimulate thought or act ion, but rather reposit ions oppos ing definitions of reality within the standards laid out by the ruling c lass (Lull, 1995). Jhal ly (1989, p. 74) paraphrasing G r a m s c i , descr ibes the process of hegemony as "one of negotiation, compromise, and struggle in which the ruling c lass , or more precisely, the ruling bloc, g ives concess ions in one area so that it may receive them in another." Simi lar to ideology, hegemony is important for the study of media production because it theorizes the ability of the media to legit imize and normal ize socia l structures, as well as provides a conceptual basis from which to ana lyze how individuals working in the media end up negotiating their own points of v iew and socia l understandings. A critical analys is of media texts and media production, such as the coverage of Whitf ield, can yield insight into the legitimization of hegemonic social relations in Canad ian sport. 10 In this research, issues of ideology and hegemony are examined through an exploration of var ious aspects of commercia l ly produced media including the role of marketing and advert ising, and of media self-promotion in media production. Commerc ia l media are linked with marketing and advert ising as part of a promotional chain (Wernick, 1991). This chain links these different types of media in an intertextual matrix wherein media contents and advert ising become nearly indist inguishable (Wernick, 1991). Wernick (1991) dubbed this chain the "Vortex of publicity." Intertextuality refers to the consc ious or unconsc ious use of material from previous texts to create new texts (Berger, 1998). The result is a reflexive notion of the m a s s media where each mediated text is deve loped on the basis of previous texts, and aids in the development of subsequent texts in an ongoing process . This intertextual f ramework of media appl ies not just to the creation of texts but to the creation and maintenance of ideology and hegemony: "Te lev is ion may be the most obv ious conveye r of dominant ideo logy, but all m a s s m e d i a inc luding less recogn ized forms s u c h a s pos tage s t a m p s , s tore w i n d o w s , au tomob i le bumper s t ickers , tee-shir ts, even m u s e u m s and restaurant m e n u s , car ry m e s s a g e s that se r ve the interests of s o m e and not o thers" (Lul l , 1995 , p.9). The concept of intertextuality is compl imented by articulation, Hal l 's (1985) notion that media texts, and their inf luence on identity and socia l pract ices, are 'relatively anchored ' (McKay , 1995) within complex socia l and historical relations. In other words, the meaning or signification of texts is grounded in and linked to (articulated with) a particular set of historical condit ions that are exp ressed within these meanings and that help to sustain these meanings by support ing some interpretations over others. Hall (1985, p. 193) argued that ideology is "precisely n this work of fixing meaning through establishing, by selection, a chain of equivalences." In the case of Whitfield, articulation suggests that the Whitfield texts, and the struggle to create meaning and identity through these texts, is rooted in an association with previous media production and the dominant ideology of the Canadian sport culture. The final theoretical concept that is important to address is that of the mediated spectacle. French situationist Guy Debord (1994) argued that through cultural hegemony, society had transformed into a consumer and media-driven "society of the spectacle" where individuals consume a culture created by others rather than producing their own (Best & Kellner, 1997). As Belanger (2000, p. 381) explains, Debord's spectacle refers to "...the highly mediated image-based nature of contemporary life [where the] complexity and contradictions of life become unified behind the veil of appearance." While Debord's position problematically dismisses human agency by failing to acknowledge individuals' abilities to critically analyze and interpret the media that they consume, he effectively tied the creation, and increasing impact, of the spectacle to the ideology of capitalist accumulation. 2.2 Mediated sport and sporting celebrity In the context of sport, the relationship between sport and the commercial media is increasingly interdependent (Rowe, 2000; Lowes, 1999). As Rowe suggests (2000, p. 346) "...the media are central to the conduct and destiny of contemporary sport - and sport is crucial to the present health and future of the media." Jhally (1984) emphasized this interdependence when he identified the 12 media and sport as an inter-related industrial complex, or what he cal led the 'sport /media complex. ' Jhal ly 's (1984) framework was underpinned by the notion of mediated sport as a spectac le of accumulat ion. Jhal ly f ramed the creation of sports media spectac les as a way not just of creating advertising t ime, but a lso of del ivering particular aud iences (primarily male) to sponsors . The owners and producers of sports media work to create content that conforms to the dominant socia l code of sport in which men feature as the major producers and consumers of sports because this is profitable and maximizes capital accumulat ion. Accord ing to Jhal ly, this economic importance of television aud iences within the spor ts /media complex is reflected in the wi l l ingness of producers and managers to change the rules, t imes and/or locations of sports events in order to increase television v iewership and meet increased profit demands . R o w e (1999), in particular, drew on and ultimately reformulated Jhal ly 's f ramework into the 'media sports cultural complex ' highlighting the pr imacy of cultural symbols in sport and the two-way relationship between the sports media and the larger culture in which it resides. For R o w e (2000), the manner in which the media have reshaped sport fundamental ly alters, and ultimately undermines, a critical understanding of sport as a free-standing cultural institution. "If it is a c c e p t e d that m a s s m e d i a and sport c a n no longer be s e e n a s sepa ra te soc io-cu l tura l ent i t ies, it m a y a l so be accep ted that the m e d i a h a v e r e s h a p e d sport to the extent that they have inadvertent ly underm ined its e c o n o m i c , soc ia l and cultural integrity" ( R o w e , 2000 , 347) . Rather than simply lamenting the ever-c loser relationship between media and sport, however, Rowe (2000) advocated monitoring and regulating the ways 13 in which increased media control of sport might damage its integrity. He also cal led for a critical analys is of the ways in which sport mythologies are employed in media coverage through metaphor and as ideology. T h e s e types of ana lyses have served as departure points for critical research into sports media , including studies focused on sports media content and m e s s a g e s about celebrity athletes (Andrews and J a c k s o n , 2001 ; V a n d e Berg , 1998; Andrews , 1996; McDona ld , 1996). Most sports media studies have been narrative and text based , however some have also examined aud iences and the manner in which they make sense of the sports media texts that they consume (Wilson and Sparks , 1996, 1999). O n e of the least researched areas is that of sports media production, specif ical ly how professional and personal pract ices of media and marketing practitioners affect the creation of media narratives and texts. In the area of sports media production, three studies have been seminal for this thesis, and are briefly introduced here. MacNei l l (1996), G runeau (1989), and Sparks (1992), have argued for an empir ical understanding of the soc ia l , polit ical, economic , and regulatory factors that shape the creation of sports spectac les and the media coverage of these events. MacNei l l (1996) conducted an ethnography of C T V network coverage of the men 's hockey tournament at the 1988 Ca lgary Olympic Winter G a m e s . Her methodology, similar to the one used in this study, used two kinds of ev idence. First, she conducted a systemat ic analys is of research on Olympic sport, media and corporate sponsors - what she cal ls the "Olympic-media-advert is ing nexus" 14 (p. 105) - and evaluated their interaction and relationship and how these relate to the traditional construction of meanings within Olympic sports media coverage. S e c o n d , she worked behind the scenes at the 1988 Olympics with members of the C T V domest ic hockey crew and, through participant observat ions and interviews with the crew, w a s able to catalogue a multitude of factors including in- crew and intercrew relations, work routines, dec is ion-making, and struggles and negotiations over production pract ices and representational codes . Her results raised severa l key points. S h e descr ibed the manner in which ice hockey w a s televised as dependent on a process of socia l interactions among the C T V production crew and suggested that the C T V staff employed historical percept ions and understandings of hockey and its cultural re levance that helped to shape their coverage and televised storyl ines. MacNei l l argued that C T V ' s hockey coverage was part of a larger process in which one particular group of Canad ians remade their culture and posit ioned it as the dominant culture, and similarly, in which cultural s igni f icance was accorded to certain dominant d iscourses during the production process. Most notably, MacNei l l (p. 104) identified "national heroes, competit ive individualism in team sports, notions of rugged athletic masculinity, myths of nat ionhood, and the consumer hegemony of North Amer i can society" as prevalent in C T V ' s coverage. MacNei l l employed Jhal ly 's notion of the spectac le of accumulat ion to argue that these meanings were incorporated into the televised production of the Olympic hockey tournament to aid C T V ' s efforts in building a traditionally male aud ience that they could sell to sponsors . S h e a lso introduced the culturally legitimating function of 15 sporting spectac les in terms of reproducing establ ished meanings and cultural forms particularly as a by-product of cho ices made by broadcasters. In this way, C T V ' s hockey coverage both reproduced historical understandings of Canad ian hockey and reflected these meanings in their broadcasts. Gruneau (1989) conducted a similarly groundbreaking study of sport media production in his examinat ion of the Canad ian Broadcast ing Corporat ion 's ( C B C ) television coverage of a World C u p downhil l ski ing event in Whist ler, B C . He too performed a preliminary analys is of the political economy of the Canad ian spor ts /media complex and combined these results with ethnographic research into the creation of a commercial ly attractive ski ing spectac le . G runeau found that while some m e s s a g e s in the C B C ' s coverage had an "open-ended character," some accounts of the event were accorded more s igni f icance than others. This w a s considered to be the result of the routine accep tance among C B C staff of the ".. .making of good television" and not the result of political maneuver ing as some had suggested previously (p. 152). Gruneau examined the elective affinity - 'the way in which particular beliefs and material interests seek each other out' (p. 143) - that deve loped between athletes, event organizers, sponsors , and the television production staff. He found that the var ious groups involved in the production of the event held a common sense of purpose and that cho ices made by members of the production team reflected the affinity that they shared with other s takeholders. G runeau argued that the elective affinity among these stakeholders and the defining character ist ics of "good television" resulted in coverage that supported an 16 understanding of contemporary sport as open and meritocratic, and as des igned to further the careers of individuals and create investment. Accord ing to Gruneau , these types of television sports programs play an indirect role in normalizing a dominant socia l definition of sport that is consistent with that of a capitalist consumer culture. Gruneau added that the polysemic nature of media images, where aud iences interpret the texts that they consume, means that television producers work diligently and deliberately to "position v iewers in particular ways and gain credibility for their (the producers') own viewpoints" (p.152). In this way, Gruneau 's and MacNei l l ' s f indings both support the argument that the mediated sports spectac le a ides in capital accumulat ion and cultural legitimation. Spa rks (1992) investigated the political economy of commerc ia l television production by examin ing the role of the state and the role of market condit ions in the creation of The Sports Network (TSN) , a Canad ian cable sports network l icensed in the early 1980's. Simi lar to MacNei l l and Gruneau , Spa rks explored the context of the production p rocess , in this c a s e focusing on the regulatory function of the Canad ian Radio-televis ion and Te lecommunicat ions Commiss ion ( C R T C ) , and then used this context to d iscuss the implications of T S N ' s overtly mascul ine marketing formula. H e a lso examined T S N ' s initial bus iness plan and examined the manner in which T S N maneuvered through the polit ical, economic , and regulatory boundar ies in establ ishing their network. Sparks ' study has important implications for a c a s e study of S imon Whitf ield. Part icularly relevant is the concept of the aud ience commodi ty, a term 17 that descr ibes how the television industry stratifies aud iences based on their v iewing cho ices and socia l and psychological character ist ics, then ass igns them monetary va lues and sel ls these aud ience groups to sponsors and advert isers in commodi ty form. Sparks argued that T S N ' s commitment to (re)producing a traditionally gendered, predominantly male aud ience commodity s temmed from uncertainty as to how to create a successfu l new sports network, and that in the face of uncertainty, T S N resorted to a proven market formula. Thus , the network's aud ience commodi ty necessar i ly resulted in production pract ices that aided in the cont inued reproduction of this commodity. Beyond these three key studies, there is a lso an abundance of textual analys is research that expands current understandings of the way that spectac les of legitimation and accumulat ion are presented in sport media . For example , in Messner , Dunbar, & Hunt's (2000) textual analys is of te levised sports events most often watched by boys, ten recurrent and dominant themes concerning gender, race, aggress ion, v io lence, militarism, and commerc ia l ism were identified. Through the analys is of these themes, M e s s n e r et a l . deve loped the Te lev ised Sports Manhood Formula, a group of dominant mascu l ine meanings that aid in aligning the socia l and consumer habits of boys and young men with the interests of the commerc ia l sports media . M e s s n e r et a l . descr ibed the Te lev ised Sports Manhood Formula as : "[a] mas te r ideo log ica l narrat ive that is wel l su i ted to d isc ip l ine boys ' bod ies , m inds , and consumpt ion c h o i c e s in w a y s that const ruct a mascul in i ty that is cons is ten t with the en t renched interests of the spo r t s /med ia / commerc ia l c o m p l e x " ( M e s s n e r et a l . , 2 0 0 0 , p. 380) . 18 M e s s n e r et a l . suggested that the Te lev ised Sports Manhood Formula serves to create portrayals of gender norms that are commercia l ly viable as well as to inf luence consumpt ion patterns among young male aud iences . The Te lev ised Sports Manhood Formula is consistent with the spectac le f rameworks in that it e n c o m p a s s e s the dual roles of accumulat ion - packaging aud iences of young males that can be sold to advert isers interested in such target markets - and of legitimation - the normalization of mascul ine va lues and behaviours. M e s s n e r et a l . a lso made an important link between the construct ion and posit ioning of sports media , in this case televisual media , with dominant cultural norms. Th is link is relevant to the Whitfield case in that it helps to combine a critical analys is of sports media production with an understanding of the manner in which these construct ions potentially inf luence consumer culture and consumpt ion cho ices . Simi lar studies have used Michael Jordan as a c a s e example for critical analys is of sports media coverage as well as sport marketing and celebrity advert is ing. Andrews (1996) ana lyzed portrayals of Jordan in both the popular press and marketing and advert ising, focusing on representat ions of race in order to identify and interpret dominant racial d iscourses in the complex socia l and political cl imate of the United States in the mid 1990's. And rews argued that Jordan 's image was constructed and manipulated in an attempt to t ranscend racial stereotypes and appeal to a broader audience. In this s e n s e , Jordan was presented as a non-stereotypical black man, which according to Andrews , a lso made Jordan a non-threatening black whose "racial t ranscendence" fit within the 19 . dominant (White) ideology of American culture. Andrews suggested that the creation and celebration of Jordan's mediated persona as an example of popular culture is characterized by ideologies of race that "...are publicized and authorized in support of the multiple inclusions and exclusions that delineate the post-Reaganite American imaginary" (p. 125). Similar to Andrews (1996), McDonald (1996) suggested that Jordan's image within a variety of celebrity endorsements was carefully positioned to make him as de-politicized as possible and consistent with the renewed focus on the nuclear family, traditional American family values and Conservative politics in the United States. In her analysis, McDonald deconstructed a series of advertisements featuring Jordan, in particular an advertisement for Hanes underwear, where Jordan is presented as a devoted, sensitive father figure, in contrast to typically hypersexualized images of White celebrities in underwear ads. This construction, McDonald argued, emphasized the notion of Jordan's body as 'safely erotic' (p. 355) in order to downplay fears of black sexuality. Similar meanings are included in a Jordan endorsement of Ball Park Franks which, according to McDonald, can be read as further emphasis on the traditional family and backlash against the progress of women and other political minorities. An important implication of McDonald's analysis is the continued relationship between accumulation (the profitability of Jordan's endorsements) and legitimation (the reinforcement of conservative and potentially hegemonic ideologies of race and family disseminated through popular media and advertising). 2 0 Kel lner (1996) argued that Michael Jordan 's s u c c e s s as a celebrity product endorser represents an intertextual relationship between media product ion, the construction of sport spectac les and spectacu lar personal i t ies, and their promotion and marketing through the process of advert is ing. Kel lner suggested that: " . . . M i c h a e l J o r d a n represents a highly success fu l market ing p h e n o m e n o n and ca l ls attention to the construct ion of the med ia spec tac le by corpora t ions , pub l ic re lat ions, and the techn iques of adver t is ing. Jus t a s J o r d a n marke ted N ike , W h e a t i e s , and other products , s o did these corpora t ions help p roduce the J o r d a n image a n d s p e c t a c l e " (1996, p. 461) . In this sense , the creation of Jordan 's image and assoc ia ted cultural meanings through media production and coverage was incorporated and perpetuated by his role in marketing and endorsing consumer products, a ser ies of activities that all took p lace within the s a m e promotional chain. Final ly, severa l recent studies have examined gender in sports media texts and explored the resulting social implications of var ious gender representat ions. For example , G o o d m a n , Duke, and Suther land (2002) used a combinat ion of semiological and content analys is to examine the gendered portrayals of male and female athletes in U .S . advert ising aired during the Sydney Olympics . Grounded in a Jungian understanding of archetypal heroism, their study found that both male and female athletes were portrayed in a variety of advert isements as Warr iors, an extension of the athlete-as-hero construct ion. At the s a m e time, G o o d m a n et a l . found ev idence of gender stereotyping, namely that heroic female athletes were somet imes sexua l ized, whereas males were not and that male hero athletes were celebrated as conquerors who vanqu ished their 21 opponents , whereas females were more often portrayed as grac ious and graceful victors. Sche l l and Rodr iguez 's (2001) textual analys is of C B S ' coverage of the 1996 Para lympics found that media representation of Para lympian Hope Lewel len undermined the possibil i t ies of Lewel len subvert ing stereotypical understandings of gender and disability by portraying her in ableist ways . Wright and C la rke 's (1999) analys is of media production of Austral ian W o m e n ' s Rugby Union suggested that overt and tacit d iscourses in media production tended to reinforce heterosexual beliefs about femininity and sport and contribute to the invisibility of sporting exper iences of lesbians. Finally, Kennedy ' s (2001) textual analys is of te levised coverage of women 's tennis conc luded that the gendered nature of female sports coverage resulted in physical ly act ive femininity being character ized by perpetual ado lescence , as an activity to be rel inquished in womanhood , and subject to dominant ideals of heterosexuali ty. W h e n combined with an understanding of the media 's influence in identity construct ion (Grossberg et a l . , 1998) and the construction of dominant ideology (Lull, 1995), these studies are seen to account for some of the var ious ways in which sports media texts reflect or potentially (re)produce hegemonic socia l relations. The analys is of Jordan d iscussed above a lso draws on a body of literature that examines sports celebrity, its construct ions and politics, as a site where the mass media play an important role. The implications of the celebrity culture are w idespread. Contemporary notions of celebrity represent the 'twinned d iscourses of late modernity: neo-l iberal democracy and consumer capi ta l ism' (Marshal l , 2 2 1997, p. 1; c f . ; Andrews & J a c k s o n , 2001). More importantly, through the pervas iveness of the mediated exper ience, celebrit ies have real effects on the manner in which people negotiate the exper iences of their l ives despi te the fact that we most likely never truly know them (Andrews & J a c k s o n , 2001). Ultimately, "the celebrity is a person who is known for his (sic) we l l -knowness" (Boorst in, 1992, p. 57). With regard to sports celebrit ies, V a n d e Berg (1998), Tudor (1997), and L ines (2001) have provided textual ana lyses of athletic heroes and the ways in which they are f ramed in the mass media as celebrit ies. V a n d e Berg traced the origin of the word hero to the Greek word heroes referring to a person duly noted for except ional courage, outstanding accompl ishments , or super ior qualit ies. In this sense , the hero is an archetype, and heroes across cultures share common traits and characterist ics (Campbel l , 1968). At the s a m e time, V a n d e Berg problemat ized the definition and distinction of hero ism by suggest ing that the qualit ies of a hero or heroic act ions are not consistent, and that contemporary heroes perform acts of much less signi f icance than traditional or mythological ones . To define contemporary heroism, V a n d e Berg , citing Boorst in (1978), c lassi f ied the hero as a human being who has shown greatness in an ach ievement that has stood the test of t ime. In response to the ambiguit ies of contemporary hero ism, V a n d e Berg emphas ized the role of celebrat ion and media coverage as crucial in constructing a hero and then separated sporting heroes into five categor ies: the traditional, the modern, the antihero, the hero as commodity, and the postmodern. In her 23 analys is of each category, represented by a different celebrity athlete, she acknowledged the role of the media in representing, and reinforcing, dominant cultural themes. V a n d e Berg conc luded that "...the mass media serve as the primary vehic les through which we learn of the extraordinary accompl ishments , courage, and deeds of cultural heroes and the faults and ignominious deeds of vil lains and fools" (p. 152). Tudor (1997) differentiated athletes as heroes, stars, and/or celebrit ies, three over lapping yet distinct categor ies that are useful for analyz ing the manner in which the mass media at taches images and va lues to athletes. Tudor 's athlete as hero is understood through archetypal notions of hero ism, often grounded in mythology, and character ized by the hero's fabulous victory which is shared with others. The athlete as star is character ized by the combinat ion of an outstanding athletic performance and accompany ing media attention. The athlete as celebrity c o m e s with the negative connotation of lacking actual athletic ach ievement and relying almost exclusively on the media for his/her celebrity image. Through this framework, Tudor examined the dominant cultural d iscourses of three athletes, Ryne Sandberg , J im M c M a h o n , and Michael Jo rdan , treating them each as media texts. Her analys is suggested that the mediated images of all three athletes were based , in part, on hegemonic d iscourses of race, gender, and socia l c lass . Clear ly , this analys is has implications for the legitimating role of sports media production. L ines (2001) ana lyzed the celebrity athlete phenomenon as it relates to youth and critically examined how media coverage is implicated in the posit ioning 24 of sports heroes as contemporary role models. S h e argued that the media coverage focus on scanda ls and sensat ional ism creates tension about the character ist ics of the ideal sports hero. S h e also suggested that representat ions of heroic athletes are often gendered , wherein celebrity male athletes are more often presented as worthy models for youth. L ines (2001) a lso pointed out that the po lysemic nature of sports media texts means that the manner in which the media and the public produce and understand sports celebri t ies and heroes does not necessar i ly reflect the interpretations of sports fans. There have also been studies that focused on Canad ian celebrity athletes. J a c k s o n (1994, 1998, 2001) examined the ways in which media coverage of Canad ian athletic heroes has been inf luenced by, and contributed to, a crisis of Canad ian national identity. Jackson ' s (1994) research into the media d iscourses surrounding the trading of hockey star W a y n e Gretzky to the Los Ange les K ings focused on the media 's role in highlighting political, economic , and cultural factors that fit the d iscourse of cr isis. His analys is (1998) of discredited Canad ian Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson examined how Johnson 's racial identity w a s reposit ioned within the media after he tested positive for a banned substance. By changing Johnson from a Canad ian to a Jama i can -Canad ian , J a c k s o n argued that the m a s s media contributed to a crisis of Canad ian national identity and attempted to d istance Johnson as a national symbol of sporting exce l lence. W o n g and Trumper (2002) built on Jackson ' s work by compar ing and contrast ing Gre tzky and Ch i lean futbol star Ivan Zamorano , a n analys is that they situated within contemporary notions of global izat ion, transnationality, and 25 deterritorialization. They argued that the representat ions of Gretzky and Zamorano as national symbols in C a n a d a and Chi le respectively, are 'ambiguous, paradoxical , and contradictory' (p. 168) given that these two celebrity athletes p o s s e s s transnational c i t izenships enabled by the condit ions of increasingly g lobal ized economics . 2.3 Celebrity Endorsement and Consumer Engineering The use of celebrity product endorsers as a means of support ing brand imagery is a common practice in contemporary marketing and corporate communicat ions (Erdogan, 1999). Resea rch has examined the theoretical and practical aspec ts of the celebrity endorsement process and a variety of theories and models have been proposed to help account for the effects of celebrity endorsers . M c C r a c k e n ' s (1989) 'meaning transfer model ' is one of these. M c C r a c k e n posits that the celebrity comes to the endorsement p rocess with an already (at least partially) developed identity and framework of cultural meanings. M c C r a c k e n def ines the celebrity endorser as " . . .any individual who enjoys public recognition and who uses this recognition on behalf of a consumer good by appear ing with it in an advert isement" (P.310). M c C r a c k e n intended his model to overcome shortcomings he had found in two prominent prior models of the celebrity endorsement process . T h e s e two models are the source credibility model and the source attract iveness model . The source credibility model (Hovland & W e i s s , 1951, Hov land, Jan is & Kel ley, 1953) has its roots in socia l psychology and holds that a message ' s ef fect iveness is reliant on percept ions of expert ise and trust in the source. Exper t ise is the ability 26 of the source (celebrity endorser) to make valid c la ims and trustworthiness is the wi l l ingness, or l ikel ihood, of the source to make c la ims that are true. The second model is McGu i re ' s (1985) source attractiveness model that posits that the effect iveness of a m e s s a g e is dependent on familiarity, likability, and/or similarity of the product endorser. Familiarity is knowledge of the source , likability is affection for the source, and similarity is a perceived resemblance between the source of the m e s s a g e and its receiver. Whi le acknowledging the fact that both of these models have been confirmed empirically, M c C r a c k e n argued that the models are insufficient in explaining or account ing for the complexi ty of the celebrity endorsement process . For example , in the source models, as long as the criteria for credibility and attract iveness are met, any celebrity should be effective in endors ing any product. Accord ing to M c C r a c k e n , these models place too much emphas is on the celebrity and do not account for endorsements that fail as a result of a 'mismatch ' between product and endorser. They emphas ize condit ions under which consumers might identify with an endorser, but cannot account for the reasons why, which suggests that the models are incomplete. Ultimately, M c C r a c k e n argued, "the source models tell us about degrees of attract iveness and credibility when what we need to know about is kinds of attract iveness and credibility" (p.312). Other models have also been developed in the celebrity endorsement literature. Accord ing to the match-up hypothesis (Kamins, 1990, Kah le & Homer, 1985), an endorsement is more effective when there is a 'fit' between the 2 7 endorser and the product (Till & Busier , 2000). This approach is based on socia l adaptation theory and suggests that, for example, an attractive celebrity may serve as an effective endorser for a product that is attract iveness related (Brooks & Harris, 1998). The match-up hypothesis has a lso been examined from the perspect ive of attribution theory, suggest ing that consumers infer the c a u s e s of behaviour of the celebrity endorser (Folkes, 1988; c f . Brooks & Harr is, 1998). Thus , in the c a s e of a success fu l athlete endors ing athletic equipment, for example , consumers may infer that the endorser would only choose to endorse equipment that would cause him/her to perform at a high level. Overa l l , however, further empir ical support for the theory of endorser/product match-up is required (Till & Busier , 2000). Of all of these theoretical contributions, the one with the most to offer to the study of athletes like S imon Whitfield is M c C r a c k e n ' s (1989) meaning transfer model , based on a "conventional path" of movement of cultural meaning. Accord ing to M c C r a c k e n (1989, p. 313) "meaning begins as something resident in the culturally constituted world," inf luenced by the prevail ing culture, then fol lows a path of transfer to consumer goods and in turn to the life of the consumer . It is through this meaning transfer p rocess that consumers acquire goods that not only serve their needs, but a lso provide the "bundles of meaning" with which to build a cultural and social identity (McCracken , 1989, p. 314). F rom this understanding of cultural meaning movement , M c C r a c k e n deve loped a model that appl ies specif ical ly to the endorsement process . Accord ing to this model , meanings are attached to the celebrity through previous 28 events and per formances, and it these meanings that the celebrity brings to the endorsement process. T h e s e meanings are then transferred to the product through an (effective) endorsement , and subsequent ly c la imed or acquired by the consumer in the development of socia l identity. Mean ing Transfer - C o n s u m e r engineering and brand equity To understand and apply M c C r a c k e n ' s model - based on meaning transfer through culture - requires an understanding of the ways that meaning is constituted within culture. Thus , an understanding of the celebrity endorser relates to the influence of style and image. Within the advert ising and marketing industries, the notion of sel f -expressive style and its inf luence on consumer purchasing is accepted and implemented into marketing pract ices (Brooks & Harris, 1998). Market ing activities are des igned to package and sel l cultural " images and i l lusions" by moving them from the celebrity (athlete) endorser to the product so that the images desired by the consumer can be c la imed through purchasing (Brooks & Harris, 1998, p. 37). This process of consumer engineering (Sheldon & A rens , 1932) has been practiced throughout the history of modern marketing (Ewen, 1988) but is best exempli f ied in the consumer culture by Ho lmes ' (1863) landmark concept of the separat ion of form and function. With its roots in architecture, this concept ion of structural meaning suggests that products, like buildings, can be des igned and produced not only to serve a practical purpose but a lso to create and distribute meanings to individuals or consumers . In a consumer culture, products are vehic les of cultural meanings. 29 In addition to consumer engineering, an important concept for this discussion is that of brand equity. Brand equity, a combination of brand awareness and brand image, is the value that the consumer inherently attributes to a consumer brand (Keller, 1993, Brooks & Harris, 1998). Brand equity is based on meanings and images interpreted and retained in memory by the consumer. The implications for the process of celebrity product endorsement and meaning movement are profound. By successfully positioning the athlete in an effective endorsement, meanings associated with the celebrity transfer to the product or brand. These meanings can be claimed by consumers purchasing the product, and this contributes to customer-based brand equity for the endorsed brand. This process is partly a matter of image transfer. The consumer builds an awareness and image of the brand that incorporates the meanings transferred through the endorsement, and these meanings in turn transfer to the consumer through the purchase and use of the product. McCracken's model is not only effective in conceptualizing a successful endorsement in terms of increasing product sales, but also in terms of building brand equity over time. 2.4 Whitfield: The next step This study is designed to contribute to understandings of a) sports media production and sports marketing as social, political and economic processes and b) the cultural meanings that underlie and are incorporated into these processes. Informed by the notion of spectacle, this research focuses on the choices made by reporters in covering sporting events, the meanings that journalists incorporate into their coverage, and subsequently, the ways in which marketers 3 0 use these meanings in branding and promoting products. Little research has examined the p rocess by which athletic events are covered and reported and the ways in which this coverage is used in marketing. In exploring these two realms s imul taneously, this study traces cultural codes of sport through a process of select ion, promotion, and incorporation. It is important to note that while studies that inform this research have examined the production of the sporting spectac le , often through the medium of television (MacNei l l , 1996, G runeau , 1989), this research explores how media organizat ions, primarily print, cont inue the process of creating a sustained spectac le through interpretation and coverage of sporting events and personal i t ies. A s demonstrated, research on media production has often examined sporting events and not individual athletes. Med ia and marketing pract ices and socia l meanings of achievement , nat ional ism, and commerc ia l i sm are potentially unique in the construction of single athletes versus entire events. Stud ies that have focused on individual athletes have mostly examined professional athletes, such as Michae l Jordan and W a y n e Gretzky, and the manner in which they are portrayed in mass media (McDona ld , 1996, Kel lner 1996, And rews , 1996, J a c k s o n , 1994, 1998, 2001). This work has tended to concentrate on the athletes' public profile, their commercial izat ion through marketing and endorsements , and the socia l and cultural implications of these condit ions in terms of the media 's portrayal of their race, gender, and socia l c lass . However , O lympic athletes such as Whitf ield, still cons idered amateur in sports like triathlon because of the lack of a professional league or circuit in which to 31 compete, have not been examined in terms of media product ion 1 . Thus , the unique va lues attached to the Olympic G a m e s and the ideals of amateur competi t ion have not been critically examined in the context of sports med ia production. Th is study provides an opportunity to learn more about the ways in which Olympic athletes are portrayed in commercia l mass med ia and the potential implications of media production pract ices for sports culture and the broader Canad ian culture as wel l . The majority of prior research in this area has been text-based with authors interpreting the meaning and impacts of media portrayals of particular athletes or coverage of events. This methodology over looks the key role played by journalists, editors, broadcasters, producers, marketers and agents in determining the newsworth iness of e lements of sporting spec tac les , as Gruneau (1989) expla ins: " . . . this ' textual ' perspec t i ve has tended to downp lay ana lys i s of the poli t ical and e c o n o m i c l imits and p r e s s u r e s that opera te a s context for te lev is ion spor ts product ion, and it has all but ignored the ana lys is of the actual techn ica l and pro fess iona l prac t ices - the labor p r o c e s s - invo lved in p roduc ing spor ts for te lev is ion. In the a b s e n c e of deta i led c a s e s tud ies in these a r e a s , a s s e s s m e n t s of re la t ionships be tween te lev is ion spor ts ' texts' and their ' contexts ' of product ion h a v e been specu la t i ve at best" (p. 135). To gain a better understanding of the social and commerc ia l va lues underlying media coverage of Canad ian Olympic athletes, it is necessa ry to engage those whose va lues , dec is ions, and pract ices are most influential: media and marketing practit ioners. In the following methods sect ion, I descr ibe how interviews with 1 Jackson's (1998) examination of the media production of Canadian Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson is one of the few studies to examine Canadian Olympic athletes. However, this work focuses primarily on issues of racial representation and less on the issues relevant to this proposal: nationalism, elitism, and commercialism. 3 2 journalists and marketers were utilized as a means of addressing some of these shortcomings. Finally, nearly 15 years after the key studies in this area were done (MacNeill's research took place during the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games, Gruneau's took place at a World Cup downhill ski race in 1986, Sparks' interviews were conducted at TSN in 1988), it is unclear to what extent similar processes are still at work in Canadian sports media production and how these practices are similar or different in the case of a single athlete like Whitfield. This prior research made an important contribution to understanding sports media production and the social process of creating sports spectacle through mass media, but new research is needed. 33 Chapter III - Methodology This chapter summar izes the research methods used in this study. The research had two components : 1) an analys is of the media coverage of S imon Whitfield and 2) interviews with journalists and marketers. Th is combinat ion of research methods was used previously in the study of Canad ian sports media production by MacNe i l l (1996) and Gruneau (1989). The textual analys is , compr ised of an interpretive reading of news articles about Whitfield and a keyword search of the Canad ian N e w s D i s c database, w a s des igned as a prel iminary step to the interviews, in order to identify the manner in which the Canad ian press covered Whitf ield's gold-medal performance. The primary focus of the research w a s the interview component , intended to build on the textual data by providing insight into the personal , professional and ideological factors that inf luenced the final media and marketing coverage of Whitf ield. For both steps in the research process, a descript ion and rationale is provided and strengths and w e a k n e s s e s are d i scussed . 3.1 Textual Analysis of Media coverage of Simon Whitfield The goal of the textual analys is was to identify and document thematic cons is tenc ies that emerged in the Whitfield coverage. Attaining this goal required a compatible combinat ion of qualitative and quantitative strategies. I chose a methodology informed by both semiology (for the interpretive reading) and content analys is (for the keyword search). This combinat ion of research strategies has been used in the critical study of advert isements (Le iss, Kl ine, & 34 Jhal ly, 1986, G o o d m a n , Duke, and Suther land 2002), in order to conduct research that is r igorous and systemat ic as well as sensit ive to multiple meanings. Semio logy (or semiot ics) developed from linguistics as a means of understanding and analyzing the p rocesses through which cultural mean ings are constructed (Leiss et a l . , 1986). Essent ia l ly, any meaningful object, event, or practice can be studied using a semiological approach (Leiss et a l . , 1986). The essent ia l unit of meaning construction in semiology is s igns, and semio logy may be understood as the "sc ience of s igns," wherein researchers examine how arrangements of signifiers come to specify particular meanings to particular groups of people. Context and interaction of signifiers are important in the semiological approach where: " . . . re la t ionsh ips a m o n g the parts of a m e s s a g e or commun ica t i on s y s t e m [are cr i t ical, for] it is only through the interact ion of c o m p o n e n t parts that m e a n i n g is fo rmed. " (Le iss et a l . , 1986 , p. 150) W h e n conduct ing semiological ana lyses , a sign may be thought of as a combinat ion of two component parts: "the signifier" (the vehic le of the meaning) and "the signif ied" (the meaning itself) (Leiss et a l . , 1986). A semio logica l approach is useful in this research as a means of interpreting and analyz ing the cultural meanings that are signif ied in the media coverage of Whitf ield. However, there are several w e a k n e s s e s to the semiological approach that should be cons idered. First, semio logy relies almost exclusively on the skills of the interpreter. In this way, a less skil led or exper ienced analyst may produce results that are superf ic ial , inconsistent, or unrel iable. S e c o n d , because a semiological analys is can only be appl ied to 35 speci f ic texts and instances in which they have been examined , it does not lend itself to results that are general izable to the larger populat ion. Therefore, accord ing to Le iss et a l . (1986, p. 165), "What insights may be extracted from (semiology) must remain impressionist ic." Third, semio logy is often p lagued by unequal a c c e s s to all texts within a large sample or to different types of texts. For example , a semiologist may choose texts that support previously constructed arguments, as opposed to exploring a random sample (Leiss et a l . , 1986). To account for these w e a k n e s s e s in semiology, this thesis research a lso employed a keyword search informed by the method of content analys is . Content analys is is des igned to break down a group of texts into fields of representat ion and then interpret the results (Leiss et a l . , 1986). Thus , while semio logy is concerned with the interpretations of s igns and mean ings , content analys is seeks to reliably descr ibe texts by restricting the unit of measurement to surface content. The main strength of content analys is is its ability to objectively detect patterns of similarity and difference across a sample group (Leiss et a l . , 1986). However , content analys is has w e a k n e s s e s as wel l . The primary crit icism of content analys is is that it fails to accurately ana lyze the meanings of texts, concentrat ing instead on isolated issues of occurrence or repeatability (Leiss et a l . , 1986). Content analys is says little, if anything, about the signification of a text, nor can it make any reasonable inference about the manner in which aud iences might interpret the meanings imbedded therein. G iven the strengths and w e a k n e s s e s of semiology and content analys is , combining the two is a reasonable way to employ the strengths of both in order to 36 " . . .be r igorous and systemat ic while a lso being sensit ive to the multiple levels of meaning and the multiple codes that [texts] employ (Le iss, et a l . , 1986, p. 175)." The textual analys is used in this study drew on both techniques but modified them in order to create a method of data collection and analys is that fit the research goa l , namely establ ishing context from which to deve lop an interview protocol and conduct interviews with journalists and marketers. With this understanding, I des igned an interpretive content analys is that combined a reading and a keyword search . Textual Read ing The first step in the textual analys is w a s an interpretive reading of Canad ian media coverage of Whitf ield. The reading served two speci f ic purposes: 1) to identify any thematic consis tencies in the media coverage of Whitfield and 2) to interpret, and where appropriate, deconstruct, the socia l and cultural meanings imbedded in this coverage. The reading w a s conducted by scann ing newspaper articles publ ished in ten major Canad ian daily newspapers , (Calgary Hera ld , Edmonton Journal , Edmonton S u n , Montreal Gazet te , National Post , Ot tawa Ci t izen, Vancouve r Prov ince, Vancouve r S u n , Victor ia T imes - Colonist , Winn ipeg Sun) each of which covered the Sydney Olympics and Whitf ield's gold medal victory. The reading included materials publ ished between Sep tember 1 s t and November 3 0 t h , 2000, which covered the Sydney Olympics , held Sep tember 1 6 t h to October 1 s t , 2000. Scann ing the articles, and interpreting the meanings ascr ibed to Whitfield through press coverage, al lowed for similar types of coverage to be grouped 37 together accord ing to how the journalists constructed the "Whitfield story." This process enabled me to identify major themes that emerged in his coverage and to identify how these themes were constructed semiological ly. To supplement the initial reading, I performed three subsequent s c a n s using the Canad ian N e w s D i s c da tabase and the microfiche stores of Canad ian newspapers in the University of British Co lumbia library. This was meant to provide depth to the analys is and further specify the most prevalent themes. In the tradition of responsible textual ana lyses , the analys is in this study w a s envis ioned as a means of establ ishing a critical lens through which to examine the Whitfield case as well as to develop a basis from which to d iscuss Whitfield with media and marketing practitioners. W h e n conducted in a sensit ive manner, textual and product ion-based research is relevant and justified in that it sheds light on issues of cultural and socia l representat ions and provides a basis from which to draw inferences of interpretation: "Responsible textual studies do not assert with absolute certainty how particular texts are interpreted. But they do suggest the kinds of interpretations that may take place, based on the available evidence, and likely interpretations of a particular text. Ultimately these interpretations must be judged on the basis of the persuasiveness and logic of the researcher's discussion" (Duncan 1990, p. 27). Keyword Sea rch The initial reading was not des igned to objectively ana lyze the number of articles that compr ised each theme but rather to focus on the meanings that were produced. Recogn iz ing the need to support my interpretive analys is with more rigorous, s tandard ized, and self-reflexive accounts (Leiss et a l . , 1986), I a lso conducted a structured keyword search using the Canad ian N e w s D i s c Database 38 and Olympic coverage from C B C television in order to document the distribution of themes within the Whitfield coverage. The keyword search was intended to ana lyze how the thematic cons is tenc ies identified in the reading were distributed among a large sample of art icles. The search documented the prevalence of keywords that represented themes identified in the interpretive analys is while a lso remaining open to emergent themes. To maintain a manageab le sample s ize , sea rches were limited to five newspapers (Edmonton Journal , National Post , Vancouve r Prov ince, Vancouve r S u n , Victoria T imes-Colon is t ) that represented national, local , and regional papers (as determined by circulation rates) and a lso represented distinct geographic areas of C a n a d a , including Whitf ield's hometown of Victor ia. T h e s e newspapers were a lso selected because they employed the journalists targeted for interviews in P h a s e 2. The keyword search was limited to stories publ ished by the five newspapers between September 1 s t and October 1 s t , 2000, a time period that covered the two weeks before, and the two weeks during the Sydney Olympics . I dec ided it was unnecessary to include the two w e e k s of coverage after the Olympics because the men's triathlon took place on Day Two of the Olympic G a m e s which meant that the majority of the coverage that Whitfield received was covered in the sample frame. C B C television coverage of Sep tember 16, 2000, the day of Whitf ield's victory in the Olympic men 's triathlon, was a lso recorded and ana lyzed for content that directly related to Whitf ield. This e n c o m p a s s e d 12.5 hours of televised coverage, and included a preview of the 39 men's triathlon, a biography of Whitfield and the race itself. It represented most of the focused coverage afforded Whitfield by C B C . Th is research was facilitated by having a c c e s s to the C B C television coverage of the 2000 Sydney Olympics (recorded in the Leisure and Sport Management audio/video lab at the University of British Co lumb ia between Sep tember 1 6 t h and October 1 s t , 2000), the Canad ian N e w s D i s c da tabase through the University of British Co lumb ia library websi te, and Canad ian newspaper microfiche archives in the University of British Co lumb ia library. 3.2 Interviews with Media and Marketing Practitioners The primary method used in this part of the thesis research w a s semi - structured interviewing with media and marketing practit ioners. The interviews were des igned to build on the textual analys is by providing insight into the p rocesses that directly inf luenced the media coverage and marketing of S imon Whitf ield. Interview methodology fits within the phenomenolog ica l approach to socia l research , which focuses on understanding socia l interactions from the perspect ive of socia l actors (Bogdan and Taylor, 1975). Phenomeno log ica l research is less focused on facts or causes of socia l reality, and more on descr ib ing socia l structures from the perspect ive of the subject (Bogdan and Taylor, 1975). There are several approaches from which the interviewer can approach the interviewee (Hollway and Jef ferson, 2000), three of which are d i scussed here. In the traditional approach, the s u c c e s s of the interview is seen to be primarily a matter of good investigative technique on the part of the interviewer (Hol lway and Jef ferson, 2000). For example , fol low-up quest ions that 4 0 build on previous answers are crucial for extracting as much information from the interviewee as possib le. In the narrative approach, the interviewer's role is to be a good listener, and the interviewee is seen as a storyteller (Hol lway and Jef ferson, 2000). Th is technique often employs open-ended quest ions that allow for emergent and in some c a s e s , unexpected results. The clinical case-s tudy approach , most often used in psychoanalys is , requires a large degree of reflexivity with the onus on the interviewer to interpret the results of the interview while account ing for issues of objectivity and bias (Hol lway and Jef ferson, 2000). For this study, I des igned an interview protocol based on semi-structured interviews that combined elements of the traditional, narrative, and clinical approaches . Us ing the results of the textual analys is , in particular the thematic cons is tenc ies in the meanings ascr ibed to Whitf ield's gold medal victory, I deve loped a protocol to use as a template for conduct ing interviews (see Append ix 1). The interview protocol w a s des igned so that key themes and topics were addressed in the quest ions asked of all interviewees. At the s a m e time, all quest ions were open-ended to al low interviewees' responses to inf luence the direction of the protocol. Fol low-up and probing quest ions were used whenever appropriate. Not ions of reflexivity from the clinical approach were a lso employed to promote objectivity and minimize bias wherever possib le. For example , quest ions were des igned to be of neutral tone and every attempt w a s made to avoid any leading quest ions. No proprietary information was requested. Ultimately, the interview protocol focused on the media and marketing 41 construct ion of S imon Whitf ield, but a lso remained open to important and reveal ing points introduced by interview subjects. In addit ion to issues of objectivity and interviewer b iases , interview methodology can be compromised by the difficulty in establ ishing an interviewer- interviewee relationship and knowing whether or not subjects' responses are truthful (Bogdan and Taylor, 1975). In this c a s e quest ions that related to bus iness strategies had the potential to threaten the interview relationship or result in mis leading or untruthful responses. Therefore, in addit ion to not requesting any proprietary information, all interview participants retained the right to refuse to answer any quest ions at their discret ion. Interview S a m p l e Pr ior to recruiting interview participants, I appl ied to the Off ice of R e s e a r c h Serv ices at the University of British Co lumb ia for Behavioura l Eth ics approval . Approva l w a s granted on February 2 2 n d , 2002 (See Append ix 2). The process of identifying potential interviewees for this project began on February 17 t h , 2002 through email cor respondence with a representat ive of International Management Group (IMG), the firm that represents S imon Whitf ield. Through this initial cor respondence, a list of five compan ies with market ing- based relat ionships with Whitfield w a s obtained. In Apri l , 2002 a list of journalists who had covered Whitfield was compi led from the byl ines of the articles used in the textual analys is . Formal interview recruitment began on M a y 2, 2002. Fourteen packages were mai led, including a letter of recruitment and an informed consent form, to ten journalists and four sponsor ing/market ing compan ies . 4 2 Te lephone cal ls and e-mail m e s s a g e s were used as fol low-ups to complete the recruitment process and determine journalists' wi l l ingness to participate. In the c a s e of marketers, the follow-up cor respondence was a lso used to identify the manager with direct knowledge of and exper ience with the Whitf ield account. Five journalists and four market ing/sales representat ives agreed to interviews for the research project. The other five journalists who were contacted did either not feel qualif ied to speak knowledgeably about the Whitfield c a s e (one), were not avai lable during the study's t imeframe (two), or did not respond to repeated recruitment cor respondence (two). A recruitment package w a s a lso sent to S imon Whitf ield's coach on September 5 t h , 2002, and contact information for Whitfield w a s obtained through subsequent cor respondence. Whitfield himself was recruited for an interview via te lephone on September 1 2 t h , 2002 and Whitfield agreed to a te lephone interview. I conducted all interviews personal ly. G iven the researcher 's geographic location (Vancouver) and the var ious locations across C a n a d a of sports reporters and marketers involved with S imon Whitf ield, face-to-face interviews were not a lways feasible. In these four c a s e s , te lephone interviews were substituted. 43 Chapter IV - Results This chapter is organized into two parts, the textual analysis, including the reading and the keyword search, and the interviews with journalists and marketers. In each part, I explore recurring themes . 4.1 Textual Analysis Reading the Texts The reading component of the study was conducted between November 15 t h and December 17 t h, 2001. Sixty articles from ten major Canadian newspapers (Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun, Montreal Gazette, National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Province, Vancouver Sun, Victoria Times-Colonist, Winnipeg Sun) were printed out electronically and then reviewed four times each. Through these readings, I identified three major themes that recurred in the media coverage of Whitfield. First, media coverage of Whitfield tended to focus on his status as an Olympic champion, valued because of his victorious achievement and gold medal victory. Second, Whitfield was referred to in the Canadian press as a national hero valued because of his contribution in constructing a positive Canadian identity. Third, Whitfield was portrayed as a commercial success, valued and celebrated because of his ability to transform his status into sponsorship money and product endorsements. Table 4.1 illustrates how I operationalized the development of the three themes. Row #1 identifies the theme. Row #2 describes the major characteristics of the theme and the way that the theme aligned with media portrayals of 4 4 Whitf ield. R o w #3 provides a list of descriptors or keywords that represent the theme and were used to descr ibe Whitfield in media coverage. (These keywords were used again in the keyword search.) Table 4.1 - Explanation of Themes in Coverage of S imon Whitfield 1. Themes in the coverage of S imon Whitfield: #1 Champion #2 Canadian Olympic Hero #3 Commercial Success 2. Characterized as: One who claims a victory through sheer determination and effort. A victor, despite being an underdog. A refusal to accept anything but victory. One who has shown greatness in an achievement that has stood the test of time (Boorstin, 1978; cf. Vande Berg, 1998) One who claims a fabulous victory which he shares with his fellow man, based on archetypal notions of heroism, often grounded in mythology (Campbell, 1968; cf. Tudor, 1997) One able to parlay athletic success into commercial opportunities, specifically sponsorships and product endorsements. 3. Descriptors of Whitfield or keywords: Champion, Gold, Gold Medal, Driven, Victory, Win, Underdog, Come from behind Hero, Nation, Canada, Maple Leaf, Role Model, Inspired Commercial, Marketing, Sponsor, Endorse It is important to note that these three themes were not intended to be exhaust ive or mutually exc lus ive. It is reasonable to suggest that other investigators may have der ived different themes by reading the s a m e coverage. However , the three themes do provide important and informative context from which to further develop understandings of the media portrayals of Whitf ield. I use excerpts from newspaper coverage to provide ev idence of the manner in which S imon Whitfield w a s portrayed in the Canad ian media. It is important to note that these excerpts are examples of sports writing, a particular genre within the popular press. T h e s e samp les p o s s e s s unique e lements of the sports writing style; they are colourful, 4 5 theatrical, bombast ic and verbose and often employ c l iches and even stereotypes. This is important context when descr ib ing the manner in which Whitf ield's victory was interpreted and reported in the Canad ian press. The three themes are examined in more detail below with examples provided from exemplary newspaper articles. Champ ion From the outset (September 17 t h , 2002) newspaper stor ies about Whitfield focused on the fact that he had won the gold medal . The fact that Whitfield received significant media attention for winning a gold medal is not surprising s ince this is the norm for media coverage of Olympic athletes, but his coverage demonstrated a flair and hyperbole that from the start had heroic and nationalistic pretentions. " S i m o n Whi t f ie ld . . .had d o n e it the C a n a d i a n way , com ing f rom w a y back , f inding a reserve nobody thought w a s poss ib le , running his w a y into content ion in the gruel ing m e n ' s tr iathlon event . A n d w h e n there w a s a c h a n c e to w in - not just win a m e d a l but win the gold - Whit f ie ld m a n a g e d what the other con tende rs cou ld not. H e found a way . First push ing his w a y into third p lace , then s e c o n d , then that m a d despe ra te d a s h to the f inish l ine." - S t e v e S i m m o n s , W i n n i p e g S u n , 09 /17 /00 The Canad ian media praised Whitfield for his personal drive to victory, assuming in its coverage of his achievement that he had been motivated, primarily, by the goal of winning the race. "If there 's o n e thing C a n a d i a n s admi re about spor ts f igures, it's grit. S i l ken L a u m a n n w o n our hearts by cou rageous l y rowing to a b ronze meda l in 1992 desp i te a grisly injury to her leg just w e e k s before the big event . Th i s year , C a n a d i a n gold meda l triathlete S i m o n Whit f ie ld captured nat ional respec t by f ighting f rom the back of the pack to a t r iumphant f in ish - dr iven by a pure hunger for victory." - L i ane Fau lder , Edmon ton Jou rna l , 09 /26 /00 The focus on Whitf ield's victory took other forms within the Canad ian med ia . A s well as being valued for his victory, Whitfield w a s posit ioned as a 46 valuable athlete relative to other Canad ian Olympians who had failed to medal . For example , in the s a m e article as that cited above, Fau lder chast ised other members of the Canad ian Olympic team, specif ical ly track stars Bruny Sur in and Donovan Bai ley, for not adequate ly performing despi te an injury and an i l lness, respectively. A popular d iscourse thus emerged within the Canad ian media that examined how poorly Bai ley and Surin had performed, and how particularly disconcert ing their per formances were relative to the outstanding performance turned in by Whitf ield. In this context, Whitf ield's win w a s posit ioned as a benchmark for Canad ian per formances in Sydney and al lowed for the vilification of other Canad ian athletes who did not win medals . "The G a m e s aren' t over but the verdict is in. W e are hav ing a very d isappo in t ing O l y m p i c s . Congra tu la t ions to S i m o n Whit f ie ld on a hero ic a c h i e v e m e n t in the men ' s triathlon and to the men ' s basketba l l t eam on an a m a z i n g s h o w i n g , but they are c lear ly the excep t ions . T h e rule is underach ievement . " - T o m Barrett , E d m o n t o n Jou rna l , 09 /26 /00 National hero The posit ioning of Whitfield as a victor and standard-bearer for other Canad ian Olympians al lowed for a smooth transition to a second theme in the construction of his media image. Cove rage emphas ized Whitf ield's va lue to Canad ian culture, identity, and pride and posit ioned his gold medal as a symbol of C a n a d i a n expert ise, competence on the international s tage, and an enviable amateur sport sys tem able to produce Olympic champions. Th is adulat ion of Whitfield took different forms. It was clearly tied to his victory, as seen in the previous sect ion, but it was a lso linked to his physical attributes and persona. For 47 example , the following statement appeared in an article in the National Post under the headl ine "Our Hero Heard the Cry of a Nation": " H e is a wiry spri te of extraordinary g race . His cur ls a re the very go ld of that pod ium in the sun of S y d n e y Harbour he k i s s e d , then s tepped upon to accep t his meda l and his f lowers , into wh ich he s o b b e d and p r e s s e d his co l l aps ing f ace as his an them p layed , his f lag rose , and his ove rs i zed heart fi l led to burst ing." - Chr is t ie B la tchford , Nat iona l Pos t , 09 /18 /00 This excerpt demonstrates the rhetoric of nationalistic heroism involved in the coverage of Whitf ield, yet the focus was almost non-sport related. Whi le Whitfield w a s valued for winning the gold medal , the coverage afforded his victory was val idated by this particular author because he fit the image of the 'golden boy,' suggest ing that his sprite-like qualit ies, gracefu lness, and golden curls are the marks of a champion. The article continued by linking his heroic character to his genuine victory: " H e is funny and pro found. H e is mad ly extroverted and w icked ly self- depreca t ing , wh i ch is to m e a n comp l i ca ted . H e is intell igent and creat ive, with s u c h e n o r m o u s intuition that his quiet, thoughtful father, Geof f , s a y s of h im, ' H e responds to th ings I don't e v e n hear. ' O n e of those th ings the c h a m p i o n heard w a s the cry of a nat ion hungry for victory." - B latchford (con't.) i The link seen in this article between Whitf ield's s u c c e s s and his Canad ian identity cont inued in var ious forms in other articles. The relationship between the athletic s u c c e s s of Olympians like Whitfield and the state of Canad ian national identity was a privi leged theme in Canad ian media . Canad ian coverage of the Olympics a s s u m e d that Canad ian athletes serve as ambassado rs of C a n a d a and represent the positive moral va lues that character ize Canad ian socia l identity. It a lso a s s u m e d that, in the case of sport, this representation is best served by athletes who win. 4 8 " O u r C a n a d i a n sport s y s t e m , and the O l y m p i c s , in part icular, s y m b o l i z e what w e be l ieve in our hear ts , a s a nat ion. W e be l ieve in fair and hones t compet i t ion , and e x c e l l e n c e . O n e cannot help but be inspi red by the go ld -meda l pe r fo rmances of C a n a d i a n s S i m o n Whi t f ie ld , Dan ie l Igali, Dan ie l Nestor , and S e b a s t i e n L a r e a u . T h e tears and emot ion of Whit f ie ld and Igali, the imp lacab le restraint of Nes to r and L a r e a u , s p e a k to the d ichotomy of our country." - J o h n Mi l ls , C a l g a r y He ra ld , 11/25/00 Thus , an associat ion was establ ished within the media d iscourses of Whitfield and other gold medal winners between the act of winning and the attributes of an heroic figure. There was a lso ev idence to suggest that Whitf ield's accompl ishment was perceived as that of a role model for youth and that Whitfield could inspire posit ive changes in Canad ian society and within the Canad ian sport del ivery sys tem: "After wa tch ing C a n a d a win gold in the tr iathlon, ch i ldren are d r e a m i n g of be ing the next S i m o n Whit f ie ld. A n d why not? O l y m p i c ath letes h a v e to start s o m e w h e r e , s o go a h e a d and e n c o u r a g e your chi ld to be the next O l y m p i c c h a m p i o n . " - J i l l Barker , Mont rea l G a z e t t e , 09 /26 /00 " A s t rong, phys ica l ly fit nat ion can ' t exist without hero- l ike ath letes to inspire the rest of us , s a y athlet ic spec ia l i s ts . ' Invest ing in s u c c e s s f u l posi t ive ro le -mode ls , l ike (Go ld-w inn ing triathlete) S i m o n Whit f ie ld, m a k e s a lot of s e n s e , ' s a y s Ter ry McK in t y , a p rogram director at the C a n a d i a n A s s o c i a t i o n for Hea l th , P h y s i c a l Educa t i on , Rec rea t i on , and D a n c e . " - Ke l ly C r y d e r m a n , O t tawa C i t i zen , 09 /21 /00 Commerc ia l s u c c e s s The first two themes demonstrate how Whitf ield's athletic s u c c e s s was posit ioned with respect to the cultural va lues of winning and national pride. The third theme is related to these, but demonstrates how the media posit ioned Whitfield as valuable to commerce and consumer culture as well as to national culture. Cove rage that focused on the commercia l ou tcomes of Whitf ield's newfound fame and status emerged two to three weeks after his victory. For 49 example , severa l Sports sect ion articles reported on Whitf ield's commerc ia l progress and his contracts to endorse consumer products such as Cheer ios breakfast cerea l . "Simon Whitfield, who won gold in the first ever Olympic men's triathlon, has signed a sponsorship deal with General Mills, which currently sponsors Olympic gold medallist Daniel Igali. 'General Mills is delighted to have Simon join the Cheerios team,' says Christi Strauss, president of General Mills Canada. As part of the multi-year sponsorship deal, Cheerios will design a commemorative Whitfield cereal box. The Kingston, Ont., native won gold with a time of 1:48:24:02." - Sports section, National Post, 10/03/00 Further, Whitf ield's signing a contract with a sports management company was also deemed newsworthy and helped to legitimate his status as a commerc ia l s u c c e s s . "Whitfield...had some inkling of what's in store because two days before the Games ended, he signed on with Capital Sports Ventures, a sports management company based in Austin, Tex., that also represents American cyclist Lance Armstrong. 'It's fair to say he's in high demand,' said Capital's Bill Stapleton, who said Whitfield's face will appear on the side of a breakfast cereal box next spring. Whitfield was already under contract to Nike." - Donna Spencer, Canadian Press, National Post, 10/02/00 Keyword Sea rch The keyword search was conducted between Sep tember 1 5 t h and October 1 5 t h , 2002 in order to explore the validity of the textual readings by determining the prevalence and distribution of themes within Canad ian media coverage of Whitf ield. A bas ic search for the term "Whitfield" in the C a n a d i a n N e w s D i s c da tabase revealed 118 total articles that made reference to him within the five newspapers in the sample (Edmonton Journal , National Post , V a n c o u v e r Prov ince, Vancouve r S u n , Victoria T imes-Colon is t ) between Sep tember 1 s t and October 1 s t , 2000. 5 0 Using the NewsDisc database, the term 'Whitfield' was coupled with keywords from the textual reading (See Graph 4.1), and searches were conducted using the resulting term combinations. Each search yielded a count of articles that included both terms ('Whitfield' plus the keyword) at least once each, anywhere within the entire text of the article. These results are outlined in Graph 4.1. G r a p h 4.1 - Whi t f ie ld K e y w o r d sea rch : Tota l resu l t s C a n a d i a n N e w s D i s c Database - Sep tember 2000 Marketing Sponsor Hero Champion Nation Go ld C a n a d a M 6 123 J 6 7 170 102 H104 20 40 60 80 100 120 The initial search results were found wanting, however, because there was no way to account for whether or not the two search terms (e.g. 'Whitfield' & 'Champion') were directly linked in the article and the results did not exclude the possibility that the two terms appeared in a non-related fashion. A second search was conducted within each of the initial term combination results and each article was reviewed to identify whether or not there was a direct relationship between 'Whitfield' and the respective keyword. This second analysis resulted in a more accurate list of articles (See Graph 4.2). 51 Graph 4.2 - Whitfield Keyword search: Linked Results Canadian NewsDisc Database - September 2000 • Total results • L inked results 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 It is important to note, as wel l , that during the scanning p rocess for l inked keyword references within each article, care was taken to recognize any new or emergent themes. If themes did emerge, new keywords representat ive of the themes were coupled with 'Whitfield' to form a new search term combinat ion and subjected to the process descr ibed above. C B C television coverage of Whitfield from Sep tember 17 t h , 2000 (the day of the Olympic men 's triathlon) was also analyzed using the s a m e key terms employed in the Canad ian NewsD isc database analys is . Within the television coverage, the number of references to each key term w a s recorded provided it directly related to Whitf ield. Emergent themes and representat ive keywords were also accounted for. A list of references to Whitfield and accompany ing keywords was constructed for C B C television coverage, using the s a m e method as for newspaper coverage (See Graph 4.3). 52 Graph 4.3 - Whitfield Keyword search CBC Television - September 16, 2000 E n d o r s e Marke t i ng M a p l e L e a f S p o n s o r C h a m p i o n R o l e M o d e l He ro Na t ion M e d a l G o l d C a n a d a 0 0 ] 1 ] 1 • 2 Zl3 • 3 ] 11 J 6 8 10 20 30 4 0 50 6 0 7 0 77 8 0 90 Finally, a compar ison of newspaper and television coverage w a s prepared that listed the number of l inked references in both newspaper and television coverage (See Graph 4.4). 53 Graph 4.4 - Whitfield Keyword search Newspaper and CBC Television coverage Marke t i ng S p o n s o r H e r o C h a m p i o n Na t ion G o l d C a n a d a 8 r n o 7 1 • C B C T e l e v i s i o n • N e w s D i s c 20 40 60 80 100 The results of the Whitfield keyword search suggest that Whitf ield's gold medal and his Canad ian identity were the most prevalent descr iptors within both Canad ian television and newspaper coverage of his O lympic win. The results are significant in that the gold medal and Whitfield's C a n a d i a n - n e s s were used in media coverage exponential ly more often than the next most frequent keyword identified in the textual analys is , nation, which itself related to his Canad ian identity. The representat ions of Whitfield took different forms but primarily the gold medal and his Canad ian identity became shorthand used to identify Whitfield in media coverage. After his victory in the Olympic triathlon, for example , Whitfield w a s often referred to as "Canada ' s gold medall ist." S i nce the keywords were developed to represent the three themes, the results suggest that proportionally television coverage of Whitf ield demonstrated 54 similar themes as newspaper coverage. In both instances Whitf ield's identity as a Canad ian athlete who won the gold medal were more frequently cited than other possib le themes or representat ions, including his commerc ia l s u c c e s s . The results a lso indicate that the representation of Whitf ield as an Olympic hero and the focus on his commerc ia l s u c c e s s as a product endorser, were not as prevalent in media coverage of Whitfield as originally ant ic ipated. A s descr ibed in the textual reading, coverage of Whitfield d id, in some c a s e s , posit ion his accompl ishment as heroic and some coverage focused on his commerc ia l s u c c e s s , but not nearly as consistently as expected. 4.2 Interviews The final sample consisted of Whitf ield, five journalists from four major Canad ian daily newspapers and four market ing/sales representat ives from four (out of a poss ib le five) compan ies that had relationships with Whitf ield. Of the journalists interviewed, three were male and two were female. Al l four of the marketers interviewed were male. Tab les 4.2 and 4.3 descr ibe the interview participants and their professional affiliations. The interviews took place between May 9, 2002, and October 16, 2002, and ranged in duration from 30 to 90 minutes. Five of the interviews were conducted face-to-face, three of these in Vancouver , British Co lumb ia , and one e a c h in Burnaby, B . C . , and Victor ia, B . C . T h e s e interviews took p lace at the participant's office or home (three) or at a neutral location such as a coffee shop (two). Four interviews were conducted over the phone because of the geographic locat ions of participants across C a n a d a . Three of these participants were 55 marketing representat ives based at their company 's head off ices in Toronto or Montreal . The other w a s a journalist from a national newspaper a lso based in Toronto. The final interview, with Whitf ield, was conducted via te lephone because Whitfield was training in Switzer land at the t ime. Al l interviews, both face-to- face and by te lephone, were audio taped and then transcribed into a M S Word computer file. Data analys is software was not used . I ana lyzed all the interview data by repeatedly reading interview transcripts and grouping similar responses together into themes. Table 4.2 - Summary of Journalist Interviews Regular Beat Newspaper Type (Weekly Circulation, 2001) Covered Whitfield in Sydney? Gender Journalist #1 (J-1) Spor ts Loca l (523,804) N o M a l e Journalist #2 (J-2) High Schoo l /Un ive rs i t y Spor ts Reg iona l (1 ,006,882) N o M a l e Journalist #3 (J-3) Olymp ic /Ama teu r Spor ts Reg iona l (1 ,204,718 Y e s F e m a l e Journalist #4 (J-4) N e w s Reg iona l (1 ,204,718) N o M a l e Journalist #5 (J-5) N e w s / S p o r t s Nat ional (2 ,057,353) Y e s F e m a l e Table 4.3 - Summary of Marketer Interviews Product Category Company 's Relationship with Whitfield Gender Marketing Representative #1 (M-1) Spor ts Nutrit ion Produc t E n d o r s e m e n t & S p o n s o r s h i p M a l e Marketing Representative #2 (M-2) F o o d P roduc ts Produc t E n d o r s e m e n t M a l e Marketing Representative #3 (M-3) B i c y c l e s S p o n s o r s h i p M a l e Marketing Representative #4 (M-4) Fi tness appare l S p o n s o r s h i p M a l e 56 Genera l ly , the Canad ian media coverage of S imon Whitf ield's Olympic gold medal , and the manner in which this coverage contributed to constructing a posit ive media image of Whitf ield, was inf luenced by the professional , polit ical, and personal dec is ions made by journalists covering the Whitfield story. L ikewise, Whitf ield's relative s u c c e s s as an endorser of consumer products was due in part to the professional and strategic dec is ions made by marketing representat ives from the compan ies assoc ia ted with him. W h e n asked to comment on the construction of Whitf ield's image in the Canad ian press, and the resulting impact on his marketability, journalists and marketers responded with a complex and varied range of perspect ives that over lapped in some areas and differed noticeably in others. In many c a s e s , journalists spoke knowledgeably about the marketing function with respect to celebrity athlete endorsement , and marketers showed an equal ly c lear understanding of sports media production. However , perspect ives on the factors that inf luenced the Whitfield c a s e often differed between the two groups. With regard to particular i ssues - such as Whitf ield's genuine personality and media savvy - there appeared to be a near consensus among all respondents Qournalists, marketers and Whitfield). Never the less, the overall pattern of responses was complex and varied across participants and the results were not homogeneous . It is a lso important to note that the complexity and subject ive nature of the quest ions raised in the interviews resulted in responses that often over lapped and inter-wove with other important issues and topics raised during the interview 57 process . Throughout this chapter, themes are somet imes revisited as they relate to var ious issues. This is an indication of the depth of the data col lected through interviews with journalists and marketers, as well as a reflection of the complexity of factors that inf luenced Whitf ield's coverage and subsequent sponsorsh ip contracts. I have organized this sect ion using the key themes found in the textual analys is . I explore the soc ia l , political, professional and ideological i ssues identified by the journalists and marketers, and examine, from the interviewees' perspect ives, how these factors contributed to the construction of S imon Whitf ield's media image and the use of his image in marketing and endors ing consumer products. A s wel l , Whitf ield's own perspect ives are integrated into the analys is to provide a more complete picture of the media construct ion and marketability of celebrity athletes. S imon Whitf ield: A Canad ian Olympic Hero The results of the textual analysis showed that, in s o m e instances, S imon Whitfield was descr ibed by newspaper and television journalists as a Canad ian Olympic hero. This coverage was anchored in a perception of Whitfield as having exhibited heroic characterist ics during his gold medal per formance, character ist ics that separated him from other Canad ians and other Olympic athletes and made his accompl ishments particularly notable and worthy of celebrat ion. Despi te the keyword search results that downplayed the cons is tency of the Whit f ield-as-hero theme, all five journalists interviewed acknowledged that 58 Whitfield had been portrayed as a Canad ian hero, and that his accompl ishments had been posit ioned as heroic within the Canad ian media coverage. Both journalists and marketers a lso general ly agreed that this portrayal had impacted his marketabil i ty to s o m e degree. W h e n asked to comment on why Whitf ield's image had been constructed this way, journalists and marketers produced a variety of perspect ives. The interview results demonstrate that the fol lowing factors contributed to the mediated construction of Whitfield as a Canad ian Olympic hero. First, the fact that Whitfield won the gold medal despi te his underdog status prior to the Olympics , was cited by three of the five journalists as an heroic characterist ic. Whitfield w a s not favoured to win a gold medal in the triathlon and even during the early portions of the event, when he languished near the back of the main group of competi tors, his chances at victory appeared minimal. His unexpected dash to victory in the race's latter s tages, and the come-from-behind manner in which he c la imed the victory, gave his story an heroic quality that journalists could easi ly identify and , in turn, employ in their coverage of the event. In other words, accord ing to journalists, the Whitfield story w a s heightened and made more dramat ic because he was not expected to win a medal at the Sydney Olympics , let a lone come away with the gold. " (He w a s port rayed) a s a hero, aga in , b e c a u s e I think he w a s an unde rdog . A n d ( C a n a d i a n s ) s e e m to real ly rel ish this underdog status and the fact that S i m o n c a m e through a little bit unhera lded or unexpec ted - a l though he w a s hav ing a very g o o d s e a s o n a n d gett ing better al l the t ime - the fact that h e c a m e through w h e n it real ly, real ly coun ted I think C a n a d i a n s really l iked that b e c a u s e w e are underdogs . " (J-3, F e m a l e , Reg iona l paper) 59 ( The manner in which Whitfield captured the gold medal w a s a lso portrayed as heroic because it was accompan ied by a pervasive s e n s e that his image w a s fresh and untainted by overexposure or scanda l . Journal ists suggested that the surprising manner in which he captured the gold became a platform from which Whitfield burst on to the scene and dramatical ly entered into the col lective consc iousness of Canad ian sports media and fans. Four of the five journalists said that if Whitfield had been expected to win, or had received significant media attention prior to winning the gold medal , the coverage of the story would most likely have differed and media consumers ' understanding of Whitfield as representat ive of a genuine Canad ian hero would most likely have been altered. W h e n combined with the perception of him as a genuine, friendly, and approachab le individual, in opposit ion to the stereotypical spoi led, surly, and overpaid contemporary (professional) athlete, Whitf ield's underdog status resulted in a mediated canonizat ion and a sense that his accompl ishment w a s heroic and worthy of celebration within Canad ian sport. "I think for eve rybody , (the key) w a s the surpr ise of it. Jus t the total s h o c k of it, that nobody expec ted h im to w in , and I think the who le f resh- face th ing. H e w a s a total f resh face . A n d nobody had ever heard of him before . S o ins tead of a lways talk ing about D o n o v a n Ba i ley , Bruny Sur in , that s a m e old s o a p ope ra , peop le get tired of it, y ' know the high-strung amateur athlete, the pr ima d o n n a s , and here w a s a guy nobody had ever heard of. A n d he w a s an appea l i ng personal i ty , I think that real ly a p p e a l e d to a lot of peop le , he w a s the a l l - C a n a d i a n boy. S o he h a s his personal i ty , he w a s f resh f a c e d , and nobody had eve r heard of h im before." (J-1, M a l e , Loca l paper) The journalists cited other factors that a lso contributed to Whitf ield's heroic image. O n e reporter suggested that the dedicat ion and exhaust ive effort put forth by Olympic athletes towards their training and the sacr i f ices made in the name of 60 sporting s u c c e s s made, in her opinion, all Canad ian Olympic athletes worthy of heroic treatment. "We l l , I'm p re -d i sposed to think of all O l y m p i a n s a s he roes , f rankly, b e c a u s e (Sydney ) w a s my e igh th . . .O lymp ic G a m e s go ing back to 1976 and every t ime I go I fall comp le te ly in love with all of them all over aga in . A l t hough , I'm not a s marr ied to the notion that they ought to win all the t ime a s s o m e peop le might be . (But) I just l ike the b reed . T h e y tend to be the best of young C a n a d a in my v iew. They ' re d isc ip l ined , and ambi t ious and they're g lor ious to look at." ( J -5 , F e m a l e , Nat iona l paper ) This particular journalist posit ioned Whitf ield, as well other Canad ian Olympic athletes, as heroes in the manner of role models, and assoc ia ted Whitfield and other Olympic athletes with broadly held characterist ics of sporting exce l lence, namely hard work, perseverance, and meri t-based accompl ishment . Th is notion of Whitf ield's heroic status being grounded in his accompl ishment and athletic performance was one held by severa l journalists who covered his story. In effect, his accompl ishment w a s v iewed as heroic in part because he had engaged in a demanding physical activity, confronted a t remendous chal lenge and had overcome that chal lenge to c la im a victory. In this s e n s e Whitf ield's victory separated him, in the eyes of journal ists, from other Canad ian celebri t ies, such as popular music ians and celebrity actors, who could not attain heroic status because of a lack of a physical accompl ishment . The physicality of claiming the gold medal was important in the media 's perception and celebrat ion of Whitfield as the Canad ian hero. " . . . you never hear Nel ly Fur tado or D i a n a Kral l referred to a s he roes . W e wouldn ' t s a y ' C a n a d i a n hero D i a n a Kra l l . ' But w e s a y it about Whi t f ie ld . S o in that s e n s e , it's k ind of l ike a sport ing term. B e c a u s e he ' s d o n e some th ing phys ica l l y , he brought great pr ide to (his) country s o you ' re a hero. Tha t ' s the w a y that I think the m e d i a meant it and the w a y that peop le genera l ly took it. I think that the phys ica l aspec t c o m e s into it b e c a u s e he 'd actual ly run and beat guys to do this, he de fea ted the entire wor ld to get to the top of the pod ium s o 61 that 's an hero ic thing. I think that peop le use the term hero more often in spor ts than they wou ld in enter ta inment or cul ture." ( J -1 , M a l e , L o c a l paper ) Underly ing the journalists' perspect ives of Whitfield as a Canad ian hero was a general consensus that this construction was in response to a perceived eagerness among Canad ian sports fans, both dedicated and casua l , to embrace a national athletic hero. In this way, portraying Whitf ield's victory as heroic was a means of delivering an attractive, positive story to media aud iences . For journalists, the hero theme used in the construction of Whitfield w a s understood as a way to create a story and an image that appea led to a m a s s Canad ian aud ience, a means , in effect, of delivering popular news. " W h y w a s (Whitf ield) newswor thy? P e o p l e we re in terested. C a n a d i a n s love a hero. I hate to put it that way . I hate that who le conven t ion , actual ly . But C a n a d i a n s l ike to honour s o m e o n e , espec ia l l y at the t ime of the O l y m p i c s w h e r e the country is actual ly thirsting for s o m e c o m m o n patriotic s y m b o l . S o he w a s one and that's w h y I went (to cove r him)." (J-4, Ma le , Reg iona l paper ) " E v e r y b o d y wants a hero. W e all go to the mov ies to c h e e r for S p i d e r m a n , w e don't go to c h e e r for the G r e e n Gob l i n . W e do. I m e a n , w e love the G r e e n Gob l i n but e v e r y b o d y wan ts to be the hero . E v e r y b o d y wants their 15 minu tes of f ame , and (Whitf ield w a s ) lovab le b e c a u s e he 's totally regular." ( J -2 , M a l e , R e g i o n a l paper ) The hero construction was a lso seen as important or significant in opposit ion to the somet imes overwhelmingly negative news items that often appear to dominate media coverage. "The thing about n e w s p a p e r s too - and I don't think at least for s o m e o n e at my level that it's a c o n s c i o u s thing - but good n e w s keeps peop le happy and se l ls pape rs and all those other th ings. A n d these aren't th ings that I think of but I know n e w s p a p e r edi tors think of that. Y ' k n o w n e w s p a p e r edi tors look at the front p a g e and go ' D a m n , another pi leup on the C o q u i h a l l a , more t rouble with the C a n a d i a n A l l i a n c e . . . J e a n Chre t ien is off at the mouth aga in , there w a s a lmos t a nuc lear w a r . . . O H W O W , there 's a hero! ' A n d you want to kind of mix it up on the front p a g e of a n e w s p a p e r s o that 's part of it. S o I don't doubt that p layed into (the Whit f ie ld c a s e ) . 'F inal ly ! G o o d news ! ' W e ' r e not all b a d , w e do l ike printing good n e w s . S o m e t i m e s w e b low it out of proport ion. I don't know that Whi t f ie ld w a s b lown out of proport ion. I don't think that he w a s , but I haven ' t d o n e an ana lys i s . " (J -4 , M a l e , Reg iona l paper) 62 Final ly, within the overlapping and disparate v iews regarding the celebrat ion of Whitf ield, one general ly accepted perspect ive emerged , a sense among both journalists and marketers that the hero image w a s strongly tied to Whitf ield's Canad ian identity. His heroism was posit ioned as an extension of his image as the 'good Canad ian kid,' and linked to his perceived wi l l ingness to accept the burden of Canad ian nat ional ism. "I think it's just an exp ress ion of nat ional pr ide that w e don't get to e x p r e s s a lot of t imes s o (the result is to) turn h im into a h e r o . . . W h e n you s a y hero, I think it m e a n ' s s o m e o n e w h o ' s d o n e someth ing wel l for C a n a d a , he w a s a C a n a d i a n hero, s o m e o n e w e shou ld congratu late, not (necessar i l y ) look up to, but a 'we l l - d o n e ' thing." (J-1, M a l e , L o c a l paper) "I think through spor ts , in terms of the O l ymp i c type stuff, w e s e e (sport) a s be ing a ro le for ( C a n a d i a n s ) , r ight? C a n a d a ' s g o o d b e c a u s e wel l , w e w o n the go ld meda l in hockey . S i m o n Whit f ie ld w o n the gold meda l and (therefore) he ' s a great C a n a d i a n , b e c a u s e he won the gold m e d a l . I m e a n , that 's all w e know: ' H e w o n the go ld m e d a l , he must be good..."'(J-2, M a l e , Reg iona l paper ) Whitf ield's heroic status was descr ibed by journalists as due, in part, to his ability to embrace and effectively convey the stance of a proud Canad ian champion. Th is resulted in a strong s e n s e among media that Whitf ield's victory w a s worth celebrat ing and his accompl ishment heroic s ince it w a s an ach ievement on behalf of C a n a d a and Canad ians . " A s I reca l l of Whi t f ie ld , h e w a s kind of the typical C a n a d i a n he ro , at leas t h e fit into the c l i che of the typical C a n a d i a n hero: so f t - spoken , intell igent, y o u n g , g o o d - looking guy. M idd le - c l ass (or) upper m idd le -c lass . I don't know his backg round but he kind of gave that.. .he just fit into s o many kind of C a n a d i a n s te reo types or c l i ches . H e w a s a n ice guy or at least that's what eve rybody had hea rd , and eve ryone had s e e n h im interv iewed." (J-4, M a l e , R e g i o n a l paper ) Paradoxical ly , while all five journalists and three of the four marketers recognized and acknowledged the media construction of Whitf ield's gold medal 63 victory as heroic, and commented knowledgeably on the factors that inf luenced this coverage, two of the journalists and one marketer a lso expressed personal discomfort with the concept of Whitf ield, or other athletes, as heroic or representative of Canad ian heroes. Thus , with respect to the hero theme, there were dissent ing vo ices amongst both groups of interviewees, in the s e n s e of quest ioning whether or not the construction of Whitfield as a hero based exclusively on his sporting performance was justified or even posit ive. "We l l , I think eve ryone u s e d (the hero) in their c o v e r a g e . (But) I don' t e v e n know what that m e a n s in that context . T o m e a hero is s o m e o n e rush ing into a burning bui ld ing and taking s o m e o n e out but C a n a d i a n hero, in this context , I think it's just an e x p r e s s i o n of nat ional pr ide com ing out. H e ' s a hero. I m e a n y o u can ' t c o m p a r e it to a guy go ing off to w a r and dy ing like those four peop le . I think it's just an exp ress ion of nat ional pr ide that w e don't get to e x p r e s s a lot of t imes . . . " (J -1 , M a l e , L o c a l paper) Beyond personal discomfort, another journalist a lso quest ioned his professional participation in the construction of Whitfield as a hero. For this reporter, discomfort w a s represented through a problematic s e n s e of compl iance in the media production process . " M e d i a , w e manufac tu re he roes . O r we ' re a real ly important part in the p r o c e s s . W e do m a k e peop le into he roes some t imes . I don't think I've ever d o n e that persona l ly , I don't think I'd want to. But there 's no quest ion that the p ress do that . . .we ' re a part of the mach ine ry and that 's the w a y it g o e s . " (J-2, M a l e , Reg iona l paper ) For the journalists who expressed personal and professional discomfort with the construction of Whitf ield's heroic image based solely on his gold medal victory, their response was to include and highlight other images and meanings in their stories about Whitf ield, in an attempt to create a more complete (positive) image. Thus , other posit ive Whitfield traits - personality, speak ing ability, patriotic 64 embrace , sincerity - were a lso included in the media coverage, and done so in an attempt to create, in these journalists' view, a more complete heroic form. Genera l ly , marketers seemed less willing or able to try and explain or account for the construction of Whitf ield's heroic image and , similar to the journalists previously descr ibed, expressed personal reservat ions in acknowledging the canonizat ion of Whitfield as a posit ive socia l convent ion. "If you s p e n d s o m e t ime with him or y o u s e e what he 's invo lved in often it's to do with ch i ldren and kids and posi t ives s o w e l iked him more in that s e n s e , m a y b e not s o m u c h a s a hero b e c a u s e of what he did on the sport ing f ield - I'm a little reticent about the word 'hero ' in spor ts - but just l ike what he w a s a s a pe rson and that kind of th ing. S o I think, y e s a s e n s e of pr ide a s s o m e o n e w h o s p e a k s wel l and is obv ious ly educa ted and you ' re proud to h a v e that kind of athlete represent ing C a n a d a . Not s o m u c h the hero but more pr ide in 'aren't w e lucky to have an athlete l ike that . . .per forming wel l for C a n a d a and then s p e a k i n g (for our c o m p a n y ) ? ' " (M-1, M a l e , Spor ts nutrition) However , three of the four marketers were c lear that Whitf ield's heroic image was important and in the end, potentially culturally influential, in that it contributed to a mix of posit ive meanings that, when attached to Whitf ield, made him a success fu l product endorser. For these marketers, the hero image w a s a factor in successfu l ly marketing Whitfield and using assoc ia t ions with him to increase the equity of their brands. "I think that his image be ing very c lean and very youthful and exuberant , and the th ings I desc r i bed a l ready we re key in mak ing h im compat ib le with what our b rands represent . But I think the w a y that he w a s port rayed a s s o m e w h a t of a hero, and s o m e w h a t of a hard-worker (who d isp layed) p e r s e v e r a n c e , and all those types of th ings, o n c e aga in directly re lated to what w e w e r e trying to c o m m u n i c a t e with our assoc ia t ion with h im. S o , I think that the w a y that (the med ia ) por t rayed h im in those fash ions w a s very app l i cab le to what w a s important to us . " (M-2 , M a l e , F o o d products) For his part, Whitfield expressed some discomfort with the hero construction and downplayed its importance. He suggested that the heroic portrayals of his accompl ishment constituted a rare form of media attention 65 particularly for an amateur athlete and that he understood that this type of coverage w a s temporal ly limited. "The C a n a d i a n hero...I don't know, I've sa id it quite a few t imes, that I had 15 minutes of f a m e and I've used 14 minutes and 30 s e c o n d s of it. S o . . . t o be por t rayed that w a y for the brief amoun t of t ime that the m e d i a s e e m e d to f ocus on ama teu r athlet ics w a s an interest ing expe r ience . But . . . i t 's not some th ing y o u train for or you ' re ready for. Y o u just kind of roll a long with it." ( S i m o n Whit f ie ld) Whitf ield's Canad ian Identity Resu l ts of the textual reading and keyword search indicated that Whitf ield's representat ion was strongly tied to his Canad ian heritage and subsequent ly , his identity as a Canad ian became an important theme in the construction of his mediated image. Interviews with journalists and marketers provided a variety of responses and viewpoints as to the e lements that made up Whitf ield's Canad ian identity, the importance of his Canad ian -ness within the media coverage, and the role that his national ties played in terms of reporting and marketing strategies. Clear ly , though, journalists and marketers involved with Whitfield perceived a strong connect ion between his media image, his status as a gold medal winner and his Canad ian identity. Interview results revealed several key factors that f ramed the representat ions of Whitf ield's C a n a d i a n - n e s s and the manner in which his national identity was incorporated into newspaper stories and marketing strategies. First, all five journalists shared the view that Whitf ield's accompl ishment w a s important in that it resonated with the average Canad ian , particularly in response to a perceived Canad ian inferiority complex in relation to the United States. In this sense , Whitfield was posit ioned by journalists as a representat ion 6 6 or an affirmation of Canad ian s u c c e s s , one to be shared and celebrated within the col lective national psyche. Accord ing to journalists, Whitf ield's gold medal victory as a Canad ian created a sense of conf idence within the country as to C a n a d a ' s ability to compete and succeed internationally, and a lso contributed towards forging an identity of separat ion from the U .S . "I think more than A m e r i c a n s , C a n a d i a n s real ly get into the O l y m p i c s , and w e s a w that aga in in S y d n e y , there 's a real s e n s e of pr ide. B e c a u s e it's o n e of the few t imes w h e n w e c a n s a y we ' re not A m e r i c a n , r ight? W e c a n h a v e an a c c o m p l i s h m e n t w h e r e peop le say , ' O h , it's C a n a d a ' a s o p p o s e d to be ing l umped into a Nor th A m e r i c a n g lob that mos t peop le think of." (J-1, M a l e , L o c a l paper ) " Y e a h , aga in here 's a guy w h o real ly c a m e through. C a n a d a ' s this unde rdog nat ion, w e s e e ou rse l ves a s this little brother to the S ta tes , ' G e e z , we ' re just poor little C a n a d a . ' He re ' s this little guy winning s o m e event w e real ly don't know that m u c h about . I'm wil l ing to bet that if you su rveyed (Canad ian ) peop le about what he d id , a s far a s d i s t ances and t imes and th ings l ike that, no o n e w o u l d real ly know, but here w e are (celebrat ing his accomp l i shmen t ) . " (J -2 , M a l e , R e g i o n a l paper ) Whitfield was seen by journalists to have touched a col lect ive s e n s e of Canad ian pride, heightening the importance of his accompl ishment , and increasing the newsworth iness of his story. This perceived sense of national pride then was incorporated by journalists into their coverage of Whitf ield's gold medal . In a similar ve in, journalists commented on the manner in which Whitfield won the men 's triathlon as being quintessential ly C a n a d i a n . For one journalist in particular, the come-from-behind victory, combined with his understated and polite demeanor , and his g rac iousness in accept ing the gold all contributed to the image of Whitfield as a Canad ian icon, a representation of the key e lements of Canad ian culture. "But y ' know, it w a s s o neat b e c a u s e it w a s s o C a n a d i a n in a w a y . H e wasn ' t expec ted to w in , eve ryone ' s looking at t hese other guys and he c o m e s a long and d o e s it sort of out of the b lue. A n d he w a s s o thri l led, his who le m a n n e r i s m w a s 67 just so . . . t he re wasn ' t any of that bombas t i c j ingoist k ind of stuff. It w a s a real genu ine thrill that he had done this, and I think w e w e r e a l so say ing ' O h , he ' s s o C a n a d i a n , isn't that g rea t? ' " (J-3, F e m a l e , Reg iona l paper) Whitfield's national identity was tied to his personality and described as particularly symbolic and resonant in contrast to the perceived arrogance, and sometimes ungracious behaviour of American athletes. "I think w e w e r e all s t ruck by that, not more low key, but the more humb le C a n a d i a n a s p e c t of his victory and his demeanou r . A s o p p o s e d to that - oh boy I'm go ing to get in t rouble here - he wasn ' t A m e r i c a n , O K ? ' Y e a h , w e w o n , w e k icked butt!', he wasn ' t l ike that at a l l . A n d it w a s real ly sat is fy ing to s e e it c o m e through like that." (J-3, F e m a l e , Reg iona l paper ) A different journalist viewed the construction of Whitfield's national identity as not only a source of Canadian pride but also as a potential tool to create unity among Canadians and provide a platform from which to celebrate Canadian accomplishments. "I think t h a t ' s part of the good thing about spor ts ; it c a n real ly br ing peop le together. H o w often are w e d isappo in ted to be C a n a d i a n or not p roud to be C a n a d i a n ? H o w often do w e look at the S ta tes and they ' re wav ing the f lag and stuff l ike that and w e go , ' G e e z that 's w rong , we ' re not l ike that'. But h o c k e y w ins and peop le a re dr iv ing d o w n the streets wav ing their f lags , it's some th ing that you and I and her (sic) c a n rally a round . S i m o n Whit f ie ld is our guy. H e w o n the meda l . " (J-2, M a l e , Reg iona l paper) Thus, Whitfield's accomplishment was generally viewed by journalists as an important opportunity to celebrate in opposition to the stereotypical Canadian propensity to understate and inadequately revel in the Canadian experience. In this sense, the media coverage of Whitfield's accomplishment included a focus on his Canadian identity as a response to, and reflection of, perceived issues of divisiveness and self-doubt within a collective Canadian identity. With respect to Canadian identity, responses from four of the five journalists included a general sense of Whitfield as a Canadian role model, one 68 to be emulated as representative of the positive e lements of young Canad ians . Simi lar to the hero construct, journalists focused the Whitfield story on his Canad ian identity, and then used that identity to model his accompl ishments as representat ive of a new, successfu l generat ion of Canad ians . Journal ists saw Whitfield not only as a representative of Canad ian identity, but perhaps more importantly, as a positive example of Canad ian identity, a national identity that should be celebrated within the construction of his mediated image. Journal ists a lso descr ibed the attention paid to Whitf ield's Canad ian identity, from a professional standpoint, as a necessary and interesting part of the story. O n e journalist downplayed the notion that Whitf ield's Canad ian -ness was sensat ional ized in order to construct a more dramatic story, but stated that, in her opinion, Whitf ield's national identity and pride emerged as a story angle that she chose to include in the coverage of the event. "(Whit f ield 's go ld meda l victory) w a s an emot iona l moment . The re are very few t imes w h e n I hear the nat ional an them in the c o u r s e of my life. I m e a n , one of them wou ld be at a h o c k e y g a m e and the other wou ld be at an O l y m p i c G a m e s , if I'm lucky. A n d I f ind it thril l ing and I f ind it part of the story, abso lu te ly . I don' t think I w a s trying to exagge ra te his Canad ian -ness . . . bu t I think a l s o that he struck m e a s a pretty good C a n a d i a n k id." (J-5, F e m a l e , Nat iona l paper ) For his part, Whitfield downplayed the focus on his national identity, in a similar fashion to the heroic acco lades tied to his media image. Whitfield suggested that his comments in the media about his ties to C a n a d a , particularly with regard to his Austral ian identity 2, had been significantly spun , and even sensat iona l ized, through media coverage. 2 Whitfield's father is Australian and Simon Whitfield spent significant time in Australia as a boy. Therefore, he had the opportunity to compete for Australia internationally but chose to race as a Canadian. This became a significant factor in media coverage of Whitfield's Canadian identity. 69 " N o , you know, actual ly , I think the m e d i a took it a s a patriotic th ing, (but) I didn't p lan it to c o m e a c r o s s as a patriotic thing. I w a s just a s k e d my op in ion on 'We l l , what do you think, you have an Aust ra l ian passpor t , you cou ld race for Aus t ra l ia , w h y do y o u race for C a n a d a ? ' S o I a n s w e r e d the quest ion quite honest ly . 'We l l , I love C a n a d a . I love w h e r e I live in C a n a d a , I'd never l ive a n y w h e r e e l se . It just sui ts me . H o m e is whe re the heart is. ' W h i c h is true. S o I just a n s w e r e d the ques t ion , (the med ia ) took the sk in off it (in the way) that they pe rce i ved (my response ) and I got cas t , wel l por t rayed, a s very patriotic. A n d I a m , but I didn't intentional ly go about thinking 'Wel l shoot , I want to c o m e a c r o s s a s be ing pat r io t ic ' I just a n s w e r e d the quest ion and it went f rom there." ( S i m o n Whit f ie ld) In Whitf ield's opinion, the focus on his Canad ian identity, especia l ly in opposit ion to his Austral ian t ies, was connected by journalists to his being a Canad ian nationalist in ways that he did not anticipate based on his interview responses . There w a s a similar perception of Whitf ield's Canad ian identity among marketers and sponsors , although this group did not speak as directly to the image of Whitfield as a quintessential Canad ian or posit ive national role model . Two of the four marketers considered Whitf ield's Canad ian identity to be, like the hero, one of severa l factors that contributed to the clearly posit ive media coverage that Whitfield received after winning the gold medal . His Canad ian identity was a lso, for the majority of marketers, another important e lement in the larger mix of meanings that inf luenced his image and commerc ia l va lue. Whitf ield's Canad ian identity was , to varying degrees, a cultural code that marketers recognized as strengthening positive assoc ia t ions and brand equity. "The m e d i a c o v e r a g e w a s very good obv ious ly , they loved S i m o n , I think C a n a d i a n m e d i a a lways loves a w inner in C a n a d a . W e don't h a v e them a s a d ime a d o z e n and the o n e s that w e do have I think are a m b a s s a d o r s for our country. T h e y h a v e been in the past (and) will be in the future." (M-3, M a l e , B icyc le ) Interviews with marketers a lso revealed that Whitf ield's C a n a d i a n identity w a s integrated into marketing strategies in a variety of ways depending on the 7 0 speci f ic goals and marketing programs of the company. For example , one company deve loped a relationship with Whitfield as a continuation of previous marketing relat ionships with Canad ian Olympic athletes and the Canad ian Olympic Assoc ia t ion . T h e s e relationships had been used to deve lop brand equity by linking healthy and active images of Canad ian athletes to the company 's products. In this instance, Whitf ield's national identity and its construct ion and reinforcement through the media, fit in well with the marketing strategy already in p lace. " Y e a h , I think that (our b rand 's C a n a d i a n identity) w a s in ex i s tence a l ready just b e c a u s e , a s I ment ioned earl ier, (Whitf ield) w a s part of an O l y m p i c p rogram (that) w e a l ready (had in p lace ) . . . so that her i tage of C a n a d i a n a , and the pr ide, h a s a l ready been s e e n through our entire O l y m p i c p rogram and with other ath letes and a s a gener i c with the p rogram before S i m o n b e c a u s e w e ran the s a m e type of p rogram in '98 a s wel l a s in 2 0 0 2 . S o I don't think the C a n a d i a n a a round h im spec i f ica l ly (was crucia l ) , I think he ref lected, he actual ly more fit into our p iece of, a s I men t ioned , the pr ide of be ing O lymp ic . " (M-2 , M a l e , F o o d products) This contrasted sharply with another sponsor ing company - a much smal ler company - that had no prior Olympic connect ion and no prior marketing strategy based on Canad ian identity in which to incorporate Whitf ield. In this instance, the posit ioning of Whitf ield as a patriotic icon was effective because it was seen as a way to attach new and posit ive images to a relatively young brand. Genera l ly , then, the focus on Whitf ield's Canad ian identity within the Canad ian m a s s media w a s v iewed by journalists as a means by which to connect with Canad ian media consumers and as a means of making the Whitfield story more appeal ing to the mass Canad ian media aud ience. For marketers, on the other hand, Whitf ield's Canad ian identity w a s a recognizable 71 element of the posit ive media coverage that he received but just one part of the larger mix of meanings that made Whitfield an attractive endorser or sponsee . The Olympic Go ld Medal l ist W h e n combining the results of the textual analys is with those of the interviews, S imon Whitf ield's gold medal victory heavi ly inf luenced the coverage he received in the Canad ian media and became a primary theme in the construction of his media image. Al l five journalists and all four marketers interviewed recognized that the gold medal had inf luenced his media image and marketability to s o m e degree. Within this general consensus , journalists expressed a variety of perspect ives regarding the degree to which the gold medal inf luenced the coverage of Whitfield and marketers offered different v iews with regard to the importance of the gold medal in developing and implementing their strategies. However , overal l , the gold medal was deemed to be a significant advantage in the marketing of Whitf ield's media image. For journalists, the gold medal elevated Whitfield to a status and image that would have been otherwise unattainable within Canad ian sports media . Accord ing to all five journalists, Whitfield was transformed from a relatively unknown amateur athlete to a major amateur sports personali ty due in the largest part to winning the gold medal . " w a s a genu ine ly great per fo rmance. I m e a n , C a n a d i a n s win s o few gold m e d a l s , I m e a n w h e n you look overal l at the O l y m p i c s , w e do w in m e d a l s and gold m e d a l s but it's not l ike the S ta tes whe re it's a lmost expec ted espec ia l l y in the S u m m e r O l y m p i c s . S o I think any gold meda l p rope ls you to a cer ta in s tatus b e c a u s e it is a fairly rare occu r rence espec ia l l y at a S u m m e r O l y m p i c s . It wouldn ' t have been a s g o o d a story (without the gold meda l ) . Four th is a l w a y s the wors t posi t ion to c o m e b e c a u s e it might h a v e been his best f in ish and certainly sat is fy ing for h im, but it's not a meda l . " (J-3, F e m a l e , R e g i o n a l paper ) 72 "I think it (the gold meda l ) w a s huge . I think that if he didn't w in , if it w a s a fourth p lace , or a s i lver meda l . . . ( he might have) got a little bit of p ress , but (not) any of the b ig s p o n s o r s h i p dea l s . E v e r y b o d y wan ts to be a t tached to a w inner , be it fans , be it anybody . Eve rybody r e m e m b e r s first p lace . " (J-2, M a l e , R e g i o n a l paper) There was a consensus among the journalists interviewed that the quality of the Whitfield story - the hook, the d rama, the perceived aud ience interest - w a s significantly heightened by the gold medal achievement. In fact, immediately following the men 's triathlon, the Whitfield story took p recedence over all others for Canad ian journalists working in Sydney . Two journalists related anecdotes of having to quickly adjust their ass ignment schedu les at the Sydney Olympics from their original beat in order to focus on Whitf ield, due to a professional understanding that cover ing Whitfield became a priority once he had won the gold medal . Al l five journalists a lso agreed that at least part of the emphas is on Whitf ield's gold medal performance s temmed from the fact that it w a s the first Canad ian medal of any kind at the Sydney G a m e s and therefore carr ied greater s igni f icance. Journal ists suggested that Whitf ield's victory invoked a s e n s e of relief among a variety of stakeholders - athletes, fans, journal ists, Canad ian Olympic staff - and eased the burden of recent d isappointments, particularly the previous day in the women 's triathlon when Canad ian medal hopefuls Caro l Montgomery and Sharon Donnel ly c rashed during the bike s tage and did not f inish. Th is sense of relief only heightened the importance of cover ing Whitfield for Canad ians sports journalists. "The re w a s that kind of t r emendous , a s I r e m e m b e r it, s igh of re l ie f . . .because y o u know, I'm not a patriotic guy (but) even then you kind of look and n e w s p a p e r s a re 73 total ing all the count r ies that got go ld m e d a l s . C a n a d a - Z e r o ' O h w e real ly suck ! ' S o w h e n he w o n , eve ryone kind of sa id 'Thank G o d ! W e ' r e not a s bad a s w e like to think w e are . ' " (J-4, M a l e , Reg iona l paper) " (Whit f ield 's go ld meda l ) w a s huge b e c a u s e it c a m e ear ly on in the g a m e s , it real ly set the tone for a great g a m e s . " (J-3, F e m a l e , Reg iona l paper ) The significance of Whitfield's gold medal within Canadian press coverage remained high according to journalists due in part to the fact that Canadian athletes won only two more gold medals in Sydney, one in men's double's tennis and the other in men's wrestling. As well, Whitfield was eventually selected as Canada's flag bearer during the closing ceremonies of the games, and remained a focal point of the Canadian Olympic team. Thus, all journalists agreed that media interest in the Whitfield story was steady throughout the games because no other Canadian athlete seriously challenged his position as the premier Canadian victor of the 2000 Summer Olympics3. The scarcity of gold medals made Whitfield's more valuable and journalists reflected this in their coverage. The scarcity of gold medals and its influence on the importance of Whitfield's victory also related to other issues in his media construction. All five journalists felt that Canadian media and sports fans had been waiting to celebrate a gold medal and therefore turned their collective attention to Whitfield after the men's triathlon. This related once again to the perception among Canadian media of a national inferiority complex and the positioning of Whitfield as an affirmation of Canadian success. It also illustrated once again, that Whitfield's media image benefited from the timing of his event - early in the 3 One journalist suggested that a possible challenge to Whitfield's status as the premier Canadian athlete of the Sydney Games was gold-medal winning wrestler Daniel Igali. However, the media impact of Igali's event was diminished somewhat by the fact that his event took place at the end of the Olympics. 74 g a m e s - as well as the previous failure of other Canad ian athletes to win gold medals . " S o it w a s a great relief a s wel l for C a n a d i a n s w h o ca re about t hese th ings. 'Thank g o d , w e f inal ly won someth ing . ' A n d it couldn' t have h a p p e n e d to a better guy; that w a s the sent iment that w a s out there." (J-4, M a l e , R e g i o n a l paper ) " O h y e a h , definitely. I think that any C a n a d i a n gold meda l is huge in C a n a d a . I m e a n , w e only w o n three in S y d n e y , s o any gold meda l is important." (J -1 , M a l e , Loca l paper ) " W e don' t win many m e d a l s in C a n a d a s o they s tand out, y ' k n o w ? " (J -5, F e m a l e , Nat iona l paper) At the s a m e time, one journalist was uncomfortable with the implication that the importance of the gold medal w a s a media construct ion, one des igned to serve a particular agenda . This reporter was clear that in her opinion the emphas is or importance placed on Whitf ield's gold medal w a s not simply a product of media ideology. Rather, she felt that winning medals is important to athletes, fans, and sponsors , as well as journalists and editors, and therefore Whitf ield's gold medal became an important topic in sports reporting that targeted a Canad ian aud ience. " S u r e , I m e a n it's a lways important w h e n s o m e o n e w ins gold b e c a u s e it's s o hard to w in . I mean. . . i t ' s a heartbeat that sepa ra tes the first f rom the fourth s o if s o m e b o d y m a n a g e s to do it, then I m e a n it's worthy of ce lebrat ion for t hem. A n d I don't think it's s o m e m e d i a creat ion that gold m e d a l s a re important, they ' re very important to the ath letes too." (J -5, F e m a l e , Nat iona l paper ) Interestingly, the same journalist a lso suggested that researching and producing a story focusing on a gold medal winner such as Whitfield made for relatively straight-forward sports reporting because of the inherent story l ines and dramatic ang les that could be identified and elaborated on. In fact, accord ing to this journalist, the gold medal-winner and the tragic non-f inisher (such as the aforement ioned Montgomery) make for the eas iest stories for reporters and the 75 most access ib le way to meet deadl ines in what is invariably a high-stress environment for sports reporters. " A s a reporter it's n ice to have a c lear-cut end ing and there 's noth ing a s c lea r cut a s ei ther a go ld meda l or s o m e b o d y that fal ls off their b ike. Y o u know what I m e a n ? It m a k e s the job eas ie r , I'm afra id, for us if you don't h a v e to s e a r c h for good quo tes . Y o u know, s e c o n d and third are wonder fu l f in ishes , they ' re wonder fu l m e d a l s , I'm not d imin ish ing them, but the O l y m p i c s is a l s o a p ressu re cooke r for wri ters, we ' re running a round trying to f igure out the best story and find out w h o w o n a n d . . . s o m e t i m e s the eas ies t quote is the one we ' re d rawn to, and y o u f ind that with the gold meda l . " (J-5, F e m a l e , Nat iona l paper ) In this s e n s e , Whitf ield's gold medal separated him from other athletes in the eyes of s o m e journalists and his media coverage benefited from this separat ion. W h e n given the opportunity, reporters were more likely to be drawn to a gold medal story in order to produce copy on a short deadl ine. For all five journalists, there was also a connect ion between Whitf ield's gold medal and his Canad ian identity, the theme previously explored. The gold medal w a s significant in the sense that it was perceived as an accompl ishment completed by Whitfield but done so on behalf of all of C a n a d a . Whitf ield's accompl ishment w a s newsworthy because of the perception that he had c la imed victory for the entire nation. Clear ly, this contributed to the narrative of heroism and a lso increased the importance of covering his story for Canad ian aud iences . Not surprisingly, the journalists interviewed shared a general sense that the Whitfield story would have been significantly different if he had won a si lver medal as opposed to gold. If Whitfield had failed to win a medal at al l , the coverage afforded him would have been minimal in the eyes of the journalists cover ing his victory. "We l l , I think there we re a lot of peop le that f in ished fourth in the O l y m p i c s , C a n a d i a n ath letes. I can' t n a m e one of t hem. If y o u don't rank. . . I m e a n , w h e n 76 you rank y o u get a lot more attent ion. That 's the w a y it is. It's s a d , but that 's the w a y it g o e s . S o , if he had h a v e w o n b ronze , it p robably wouldn' t h a v e b e e n a s big a dea l . " (J-4, M a l e , Reg iona l paper) " E v e n if he 'd w o n a s i lver (medal) peop le wou ld have known about h im but he wouldn ' t be ' S i m o n Whit f ie ld the personal i ty . ' He ' d just be the s i lver meda l w inner , ' O h , good on h im. ' P e o p l e wou ld know about h im but he wouldn ' t be the major amateur sport personal i ty that he is. A n d if he hadn' t w o n a meda l at a l l , nobody wou ld even know about h im other than the fact that he w a s an O l y m p i a n . P e o p l e in the triathlon c i rc les wou ld know but beyond that nobody wou ld put h im on a (cereal) box. That ' s interest ing, it's that go ld meda l c o m b i n e d with his personal i ty that m a d e it all poss ib le for h im." (J-1, M a l e , L o c a l paper ) A s for marketers and sponsors involved with Whitf ield, there w a s a similar s e n s e of the importance placed on the gold medal performance. The gold was important first and foremost because of the positive press that it afforded Whitfield and , in turn, the positive press that his sponsor ing compan ies received. This w a s clearly most important for those compan ies that had relat ionships with Whitfield prior to his gold-medal victory in Sydney . For those compan ies , especia l ly those whose products are des igned for athletic use , the gold medal served as proof or affirmation of the quality of the product(s). Th is relationship between the gold medal and product performance was incorporated into the strategic branding of the product to take advantage of the posit ive media coverage and the assoc ia t ions between the brand and the gold medal performance. " Y e a h I think (the Whit f ie ld relat ionship) probably wou ld (have b e e n different without the gold meda l ) . Y o u do n e e d s o m e per fo rmance r ight? Y o u do want to exc i te the c o n s u m e r . . . a n d there 's no quest ion there 's a different r e s p o n s e f rom the c o n s u m e r . . . p e o p l e l ike to meet a go ld medal l is t and there 's an exc i tement in that there 's someth ing about ach iev ing for a brief per iod of t ime, be ing on top of the wor ld within your c h o s e n field that (gets) peop le exc i ted . A n d that 's not to s a y that they don't get exc i ted about other medal l is ts or other per formers but it is different. I m e a n , I'm sure you 've expe r i enced that, it's just h u m a n nature, r ight? S o o f c o u r s e h im winn ing the go ld m e d a l e n e r g i z e d u s a s a c o m p a n y to c rea te this p rogram and s o w e might have u s e d S i m o n or other ath letes differently if he had c o m e b a c k and w o n the si lver or the b ronze or just per formed real ly we l l , y o u might still u s e h im a s a s p o k e s p e r s o n but m a y b e not b randed it l ike w e h a v e or (maybe) pos i t ioned it differently." (M-1 , M a l e , Spor ts nutrition) 77 Ultimately, all four marketers were uncomfortable with a causa l branding strategy - S imon Whitfield uses this product and he won the gold medal ; if the consumer uses the product, the consumer will ach ieve the s a m e results - or marketers cons idered such a strategy ineffectual. However , marketing representat ives did see c lear benefit in the heightened awareness of Whitfield and the potential assoc ia t ions with their products as a result of the gold medal . There were varying viewpoints, however, among the compan ies assoc ia ted with Whitf ield, as to how important the gold medal was to their overall marketing strategy. For some compan ies that were already involved with Whitf ield, his unexpected victory provided a unique opportunity to re-develop marketing strategies based on their previous relationship. The gold medal b e c a m e a catalyst in the creation and implementation of severa l Whit f ie ld-based sponsorsh ip relations and promotional campa igns . " S o , he went to the O l y m p i c s . . . a n d w o n . W e fell off our cha i rs . Al l of a s u d d e n , w e had to s e i z e the opportunity. A n d f rom there, w e couldn' t con tac t h im for three w e e k s , he w a s in big d e m a n d , and s o o n c e he c a m e back he ca l led us and he s a y s 'I w o n . ' A n d I w a s pretty much in a state of e la t ion. A n d I sa id ' Y o u know S i m o n . . . w e ' r e happy to suppor t you and we' l l be happy to suppor t you in the future s o if y o u wou ld cons ide r remain ing with us , w e wou ld g lad ly d raw up a contract that m a k e s you o n e of our very, very few fu l l y -sponsored ath letes. ' " ( M - 3, M a l e , B i cyc le ) "I think what w e did is recogn ize an opportunity in that w h e n w e w e r e ta lk ing about h im after his result w e we re recogn iz ing that he and his c o a c h had real ly d e v e l o p e d a p rogram us ing our product. S o . . . w e con tac ted his c o a c h and w e w e r e w ish ing h im congratu la t ions and w e we re talk ing to h im in a ce lebra tory w a y abou t h is ach ievemen t a n d then w e star ted to r e c o g n i z e 'I w o n d e r if w e cou ld incorporate his p rogram in a w a y of he lp ing educa te our c o n s u m e r and a l so tap into the good will (assoc ia ted with) what he 's d o n e ? ' " (M-1, M a l e , Spor ts nutrition) 78 However , for other sponsor ing compan ies , the gold medal won by Whitfield w a s not the most important element in select ing him for a marketing relationship. Rather, other e lements of his mediated image were deemed to be more important in creating a positive and productive fit between Whitfield and the brand. In other words, Whitf ield's media persona, with particular personal traits, took precedent over the gold medal in establ ishing a strategic link between the brand and Whitf ield. In this sense , some sponsors perceived Whitf ield's gold medal as a bonus in that it afforded Whitfield more significant media coverage and increased his exposure in turn increasing an understanding of the images assoc ia ted with the sponsor ing brand. "The fact that he w o n a gold meda l w a s a bonus b e c a u s e w inn ing a go ld m e d a l , he rece ived a lot more attention espec ia l l y on the p ress s ide , v e r s u s a s i lver or b ronze . A n d b e c a u s e of the impor tance of that event be ing w o n for the first t ime in the O l y m p i c s c rea ted a little bit of a top sp in of p ress and I think the assoc ia t i on that w a y benef i ted us more than it wou ld h a v e if he hadn' t w o n , but that wasn ' t a cr i ter ia for se lec t ion . " (M-2, M a l e , F o o d products) "Within the running communi ty , it's a pretty tight commun i ty and tr iathlon's the s a m e way , there 's a large number of peop le w h o part ic ipate in that sport and I'm sure they w e r e all very a w a r e of him prior to that. A n d those are the types of peop le that are obv ious ly interested in the different t ypes of product that w e have , espec ia l l y the per fo rmance or iented stuf f . . .obviously w e don't have a lot of O l y m p i c go ld medal l i s ts in C a n a d a , part icularly in the S u m m e r spor ts , (so) if you c a n have (a re lat ionship with) one , all the better. But the re lat ionship wou ld exist , it ex is ted before (he w o n the gold medal ) . " (M-4, M a l e , F i tness appare l ) Genera l ly , marketers shared the opinion held by journalists that the scarcity of gold medals helped elevate Whitfield to a status in the eyes of Canad ians that was otherwise unattainable. In fact, one marketer descr ibed Whitfield the gold medall ist as a Canad ian ambassado r and clearly stated that Whitf ield's lofty public image had, as far as the company w a s concerned , made Whitfield an individual worth associat ing the company 's product with. 79 For his part, Whitfield d ismissed the l inear relationship between his gold medal and his marketability, suggest ing that such a causa l interpretation did not reflect his exper iences. In Whitf ield's opinion, he had not become instantly marketable as many in the public and even the media had a s s u m e d . A s important as the gold medal w a s to marketers and sponsors , Whitfield descr ibed his marketing and sponsorsh ip relationships as being primarily and significantly grounded in the personal and professional relationships that he had cultivated with sponsor ing company 's representat ives. "There's this ridiculous perception that when you win an Olympic gold medal you instantly become financially successful (but) you also get a thousand different promises made to you in business. I can't tell you how many millions of dollars I've made (based) on spoken word and even on signed contracts that I never ended up seeing. It's just the way it works so you learn...through experience or you just learn through these situations happening over and over again that the people that follow through with their word and follow through with their ideas...are the people that you really stay around. And so I've been able to do that with (a particular sponsor) who, y'know, I learned a lot from our relationship...beyond just being a company that I'm associated with, I like working with them and doing the typical sponsorship arrangement, (and) I've been able to learn a lot about how (the company) works as a business and learn about how (the company) builds their products, and had a lot of input into how they build some of their products. I've really enjoyed that. I think that was one of the (reasons that) there was never any question that I would (stay with the company) because beyond the business side of it, I've just really enjoyed the relationship as well. I've had some somewhat negative experiences with the business side too, though, and it's been definitely an interesting learning experience." (Simon Whitfield) Overa l l , therefore, the gold medal was v iewed by journalists as one of the most important factors that inf luenced their coverage of Whitf ield. Marketers, on the other hand, differed in their perspect ives, depending on their strategy, about the importance of the gold medal in their branding and sponsorsh ip relat ionships with Whitf ield. 80 Med ia image and marketability A focus of this study was to explore the relationship between Whitf ield's media image and his marketability. Al l five journalists demonstrated, to varying degrees , an understanding of the marketing function and speci f ic marketing strategies particularly with respect to Whitfield as well as other athletes they covered. Journal ists a lso general ly held strong opinions about the marketing of Whitfield and other Canad ian amateur athletes and were often will ing to speculate a s to why athletes such a s Whitfield b e c a m e market ing s u c c e s s e s . " . . .obv ious ly looks , personal i ty , and appea l have everyth ing to do with (marketabi l i ty). Espec ia l l y w h e n market ing amateur ath letes b e c a u s e that 's what you ' re se l l ing . P r o s are different, b e c a u s e you c a n market a little bit of an a g g r e s s i v e e d g e , you can' t market that in an amateur athlete, nobody l ikes that. T h e other thing is go ld , you ' ve got to have go ld . That ' s got to be your plat form. If y o u don' t h a v e gold.. . I m e a n w h o wan ts b ronze m e d a l s c o m i n g h o m e f rom you r supermarke t (on a cerea l box)? It's ok, but it's not real ly. . . i t 's got to be go ld . " ( J - 1, M a l e , Loca l paper) Journal ists demonstrated first-hand knowledge of how marketing and public relations had influenced their a c c e s s to information and ultimately contributed to what they wrote about Whitf ield. For example , two journalists recal led a press conference featuring the gold medall ist upon his return from the Olympics where a sponsor 's public relations' representat ives a s s u m e d roles as mediators between the press and Whitfield in order to better control the flow of information that would contribute to his portrayal in the media . Journal ists understood the role being played by the marketers and public relations staff in this example and a lso acknowledged that it had affected the construct ion of the Whitf ield story. "I think if (the posi t ive portrayal of Whi t f ie ld 's victory) w a s a c o m m o n theme, one of the r e a s o n s for that is the format of how things h a p p e n e d . H e c a m e back (and) 81 we had half an hour to basically watch a pre-packaged press conference. (The sponsoring company) is going to love this, right, because basically what they did worked. You don't have time to spend more time with Whitfield and to do a story looking at who he is. You kind of run with what you know about him and if that's confirmed in the press conference (then): 'Fine. OK. ' You go with it." (J-4, Male, Regional paper) The press conference was recognized by these journalists as an attempt to strategically utilize press coverage to increase Whitf ield's media profile and presumably aid in Whitf ield's ability to successfu l ly endorse the sponsor 's product. The journalists were aware of this public relations strategy but were willing to engage in the public relations process because of their own need to gain a c c e s s to Whitfield and produce a story. In this way, Whitfield became a focal point for both sponsors and journalists in a symbiot ic relationship. "It's probably a bit of a symbiotic relationship because the exposure that the athlete gets in the media increases his or her marketability, absolutely, and in turn the marketers will use the media to make their athlete more marketable. Again, some athletes you have to phone up their agent to get an interview or you phone up the sponsors. The sponsors will organize a media event so that you can have access to the athlete. It is symbiotic, we kind of need each other. They need us for the exposure, sometimes we need them for the access." (J-3, Female, Regional paper) However , not all journalists were comfortable or willing to embrace the role of sponsors and marketers in the creation of Whitf ield's med ia image. Two journalists expressed ser ious reservat ions about perceived compl iance in the marketing of S imon Whitf ield. They pointed out that the story ass ignment was most important and that they would have been more comfortable without the p resence of corporate sponsors or public relations. O n e journalist in particular descr ibed free gifts he had received from a Whitfield sponsor as an insult. In fact, the s a m e journalist referred to public relations staff as 'f laks,' and w a s c lear that 82 he would prefer if public relations or corporate staffers were absent from the newswriting process. "Oh, I wouldn't say that I embrace it. I wish that that weren't a factor at all. It's something that you're aware soon as you get P.R. people involved. For the most part, we really don't like them and we wish they would just go away because they do alter the story and control the story and that's something that if you're a good journalist, you're aware of. So you're always aware of what's happening and what the pitch is going to be." (J-4, Male, Regional paper) However, this journalist also conceded that the need to collect information about Whitfield at the press conference made dealing with gatekeepers, in this case public relations staff, necessary. While journalists' reactions to the role of public relations in the construction of the Whitfield story differed, there was similar disparity in journalists' attitudes towards their own role in the media/marketing relationship. For example, two journalists openly embraced their ability to create a positive media image for Whitfield, one that they recognized as being useful for him in terms of sponsorship and endorsement opportunities. The opportunity to build a positive image for Whitfield was described by these journalists as a positive outcome of covering amateur sport, a way to contribute to a perceived lack of funding for amateur athletes in Canada. These journalists acknowledged that Whitfield would have few opportunities to take advantage of his broad and intensely positive media image around the gold medal, and therefore, they were comfortable in accepting their role in creating a marketable image on his behalf. "I liaised a little bit with (a Whitfield sponsor) on a marketing program and also this program that they have with the Winter Olympics and they made sure that we could talk to some of the athletes. So again, it's we need them and they need us. And in some ways you don't mind. I don't mind because I know that with a lot of these athletes, this is their one kick at the can to make some bucks and you don't mind doing it. It's part of the game, isn't it?" (J-3, Female, Regional paper) 83 Further, these reporters felt comfortable with creating an image that would benefit Whitf ield in terms of marketing and sponsorship because of their strong relationship with him and his personal appea l . In this s e n s e , journalists perceived a need for Whitfield to take advantage of his positive image and position in the media spotlight and were wil l ing, within reason, to contribute to enhanc ing Whitf ield's marketability through positive media coverage. Th is w a s not seen to be at the expense of journalistic integrity or objective reporting because of the genuine fondness that reporters had for Whitf ield, and because of his ability to help sports writers' produce good copy by delivering articulate, thoughtful quotes. "...quite honestly, I write, basically, pretty shameless propaganda for Canadian athletes when I'm covering an Olympic Games because I'm someone who thinks that they deserve the attention...I have no idea if it has helped (Whitfield) but I would hope it has because he's all the things that I've said he is: bright, dedicated, attractive, smart. So if what I have written about him has helped him reap some financial benefit, great! I mean don't misunderstand me. I don't think that my job is to do promotions for these guys, but invariably that's what happens because I like them so much and I admire them so much." (J-5, Female, National paper) Ultimately, journalists descr ibed a reciprocal relationship whereby Whitfield helped journalists create good copy and journalists aided Whitf ield in creating a positive media image. Not surprisingly, however, journalists that expressed discomfort about the role of public relations and marketing within the media production process also expressed discomfort with directly contributing to Whitf ield's role as a product endorser. "Yeah, that's something that's in the back of your mind, well it was in the back of my mind anyways. I can't remember who put on the (press conference) whether it was the Canadian Olympic Committee or who it was but (a Whitfield sponsor) was a big part of it. And whatever, that's how Whitfield makes his money and he has a right to do that. But, your hackles are always up because you're wondering, 84 are we being used here? And we are. And at the same time we use them, not me personally, but my newspaper uses them to sell newspapers, TV stations use them to get people to watch broadcasts, that's the tradeoff. That's the lowest common denominator of the business. But there's no question that they need us, that's why they send us press releases. The thing that I don't like to do is...if Whitfield came out and said "I (use this product) everyday, and it makes me healthy and strong!" I wouldn't put that in my story, not to save anybody's life, right? Because you're aware of that and you're not here to do free advertising for (the sponsoring company). You're here to write a story." (J-4, Male, Regional paper) "(Is my story influenced) in terms of making someone marketable? No. No, I think that you're trying to tell the truth as much as anything. That's the big goal. And sometimes it sucks. Because you get to know people (and then may have to write negative copy about them). I don't think you're trying to screw anybody or promote anyone you don't think deserves promotion, I think you're trying to tell the truth. (But) sometimes you cloud the truth." (J-2, Male, Regional paper) A s for marketers, they spoke knowledgeably about the role of the press within the marketing function. Marketers ' responses suggested that the construct ion of Whitf ield's media image in the Canad ian press w a s an important factor in his s u c c e s s as an endorser of their product. The manner in which Whitfield won the gold, his genuine appea l , his youth, exuberance, hard work and commitment, and the timing of his victory, were all cited as posit ive meanings assoc ia ted with him and meanings that were a ided, at least in part, by the coverage within the Canad ian press. "(The media coverage) was extremely important. There's no question that not only was he winning but he was winning in a way that was nothing but positive, right? The style of his performance was terrific, and there's nothing like being first, right?" (M-1, Male, Sports nutrition) I haven't seen every piece of...whether it was TV or radio or interviews, I haven't had the chance to review and see every little thing so it would be kind of unfair for me to state how they referred to him. But the things that I saw were positive in that he was this energetic, young, exciting person who through hard work achieved his goal." (M-2, Male, Food products) Aga in , marketers were most attracted to the mix of posit ive meanings assoc ia ted with Whitf ield, because it was these meanings that they hoped to attach to their products and/or brands through the sponsorsh ip or endorsement 85 process . However , while marketers' unanimously recognized the media coverage of Whitf ield's gold medal as a posit ive, they varied in their opinions as to how this coverage had inf luenced their marketing strategies. "I don't know...that's a difficult question, because you can't really measure (the impact of media coverage) in a sense. I mean, he's the number one triathlete in the world, and he won the Olympic gold medal so he's the best at what he does. If we're going to be involved in triathlon or running sports then it would be important for us to be involved or associated with athletes of that calibre. So, while it's important that he gets media coverage not only for us but for himself, I wouldn't say's not something that we sit here and measure and it doesn't make or break our association with him. Y'know there are things that we use top athletes for outside of media, that's only a part of what we do. Y'know, we could integrate events around the athlete, they can do talks to our sales staff, we can bring them into a world championships where we have hospitality set up and use them in that environment, and put them into product design. So all of our top athletes have basically touched in those areas at some point so it's kind of like the more global picture as opposed to 'Hey, he won the Olympics, he's getting tons of media coverage.' I mean obviously, that's nice but we have relationships with athletes that aren't getting that much coverage that are important to us as well." (M-4, Male, Fitness apparel) Simi lar to the impact of Whitf ield's Olympic gold medal victory, these marketers downplayed the impact of Whitf ield's media coverage and image on why he was worthy of sponsorship or product endorsement . In most c a s e s , marketers were c lear that they v iewed heightened media coverage of Whitfield as a bonus in that it highlighted the e lements of Whitfield that they worked to incorporate into a strategic fit with their company 's brand. Even while they conceded the benefits of Whitf ield's media coverage, they a lso appeared to want to d is tance their strategic marketing dec is ions from the inf luence of the Canad ian media a lone. Marketers recognized the impact of the posit ive media coverage but did not cite media coverage as the dominant factor in their marketing campa igns . 8 6 Overa l l , then, an interesting relationship emerged where journalists v iewed their work as potentially contributing to the marketing s u c c e s s enjoyed by S imon Whitfield and , with some notable except ions, exp ressed a general comfort level with having aided him in his bus iness s u c c e s s e s . Marketers, on the other hand, acknowledged that media image was an important factor in building the posit ive meaning mix that accompan ied Whitfield but seemed reluctant to credit the media constructed image of Whitfield as the defining characterist ic in their marketing dec is ions. Branding S imon Whitfield After the Sydney Olympics , a nutrition sponsor of Whitf ield's re-created a product line that he had used during his training and incorporated his name and l ikeness into the brand logo and as part of its label ing. This strategy w a s des igned and implemented in an effort to capital ize on the company 's relationship with a gold medal winner who was enjoying posit ive media attention. A food product sponsor used an image of Whitfield on their packaging to try and increase the profile and positive associat ions of the product and the brand at points of purchase. A bicycle sponsor re-designed their websi te to include images and provide a story line descr ib ing Whitf ield's victory using their product, again as a means of publicizing their associat ion with an Olympic gold medall ist. This , according to the company, was part of a grassroots supply chain approach that was undertaken to ensure that important stakeholders such as suppl iers and retailers were aware of and understood their relationship with Whitf ield, a 87 relationship that they hoped would eventually be transferred to the consumer by word of mouth. The common thread underlying all of these different strategies w a s a desire on the part of marketers and their compan ies to create a strong link between their brand and the posit ive meanings assoc ia ted with the public image of S imon Whitf ield. In other words, the link between Whitf ield and a particular brand - or in some c a s e s , the specif ic branding of Whitfield - w a s seen by marketers to be a mechan ism whereby they could raise the profile of their brand and, more importantly, assoc ia te the meanings of their brand with the positive meanings assoc ia ted with Whitf ield. "We're looking for a spokesperson that everyday athletes, weekend warriors, young people, women, can feel comfortable with and that association wouldn't feel threatening. We want people to say they've heard of Simon Whitfield, they've seen him, they've heard him interviewed and they would feel comfortable using a line of sports nutrition products that he would endorse." (M-1, Male, Sports nutrition) "The fact that he was, y'know, he was on top of the world, he won an inaugural event, there were a lot of those types of things that were very strong for him. But I think in general the things that we look for that he possessed was - once again I want to repeat this because it's very important - the energy, the enthusiasm and the strategic fit to our brand and what our brands represent is consistent with the personal traits that he possesses." (M-2, Male, Food products) "And it's just a perfect fit as (industry members) continue the whole conversation on our (company). (They say:) Th is is exactly how Simon is. They're like this as a company, he's like that as an athlete, together they won a gold medal.' And we're going to make (a product) for you as well that's really personalized the same way that (we) personalized it for him. And no other companies can do that currently." (M-3, Male, Bicycle) "I mean, we see ourselves as the number 1 company in the world (in our product area). I think across many of the athletic realms that we are involved in through sports marketing, we've pretty much borne that out. And so we like to have relationships with athletes that have similar focuses and similar personas. Obviously, we were one of the first companies to get on board, we saw a promise in him, and he's become the number 1 triathlete in the world and really that's what our whole relationship's about. We work for him, he works for us. It works well, he continues to perform, and he has value because he helps legitimate or bring authenticity to our product." (M-4, Male, Fitness apparel) 88 T h e s e perspect ives suggest that the manner in which meanings assoc ia ted with Whitfield were recognized and subsequent ly employed by compan ies in marketing strategies was related, at least in part, to the Whitfield image created through media coverage. Compan ies were interested in establ ishing marketing relationships with Whitfield because of the positive profile that he enjoyed and the meanings attached to his personality through media coverage. A n d in s o m e c a s e s , the mix of meanings that compan ies wished to transfer to their brand through an associat ion with S imon Whitfield w a s c losely al igned with his personality and the manner in which he w a s portrayed within the Canad ian media . A s mentioned above, marketers differed in their opinions regarding the importance or influence of Canad ian media coverage of Whitfield in strengthening his position as a product endorser and in turn strengthening their brand. However , what is c lear is that a relationship existed between the meanings injected into the construction of Whitf ield's media image and the meanings that marketers w ished to tap into by associat ing their products and brands with him. A s ment ioned above, marketers a lso varied in their a s s e s s m e n t s of the s u c c e s s of their marketing strategies involving Whitf ield. Interview responses varied from enthusiast ic affirmation of Whitf ield's role in improving brand equity to a much more guarded opt imism as to whether the associat ion with Whitf ield had paid off in terms of the strength of the brand. Th is reluctance to label the Whitfield marketing strategy as successfu l was based on marketers' self- descr ibed difficulty in accurately measur ing the results of marketing strategies 89 using celebrity endorsers. In one particular case , the interviewee bel ieved that, based on circumstantial ev idence, Whitfield had helped to heighten the brand profile and strengthen the brand's equity but clearly noted the difficulty in empirical ly assess ing the impact of the Whitfield marketing strategy on the strength of the brand. Sti l l , it is noteworthy that none of the marketers interviewed expressed a c lear dissatisfact ion with the Whitfield relat ionship or the use of Whitfield in their marketing strategies. It should a lso be noted that marketing professionals in an interview situation might be unwilling to admit the failure of a market ing strategy in an attempt to avoid the potential embar rassment accompany ing such an admiss ion . General ly , though, marketers clearly articulated the Whitf ield/brand relationship as success fu l . "Yes. I mean, we have marketed the hell out of it, we've used his image, we've talked in a very up front way and in a very hidden way that we are associated with him and it's worked. Everyone knows, that 'You're the guys, you got Simon as an athlete.' Everybody knows it, across Canada. All our dealers know it across the United States." (M-3, Male, Bicycle) "Oh yeah, no question, no question (it was successful). And like I said, we have a ways to go in terms of marketing and marketing with Simon. We know there's lots of other product mix out there that we can really market quite easily and quickly and get superior sales results. (But) Simon definitely expanded our (product) area and definitely helped in distribution, definitely helped in sales and (helped improve) the consumer's understanding of how to use the (Whitfield branded) program, and now it's a little bit up to us again to continue to market him and the brand." (M-1, Male, Sports nutrition) "(The success of the marketing strategy) is extremely difficult to measure. I don't think you can ever...we have very sophisticated measuring tools of volume and performance of our brands and that is one that is extremely hard to capture. I would say that the association to him and what traits he brings have created more awareness of those brands but I wouldn' I say, it's not something that we could actually define and say...not just with Simon specifically, but with anything it's hard to say whether it help or hurt outside of knowledgeable commentary from people involved in the project and the industry." (M-2, Male, Food products) 90 Whitf ield: S incere , yet S a v v y Underly ing many of the e lements that journalists and marketers identified as important in the media and marketing s u c c e s s of S imon Whitfield w a s Whitf ield's ability to engage with the press and deal with public attention in a thoughtful, po ised, and articulate manner. Both journalists and marketers descr ibed Whitf ield's media savvy as directly related to what they v iewed as his s incere and genuine personality, traits that not only separated him from other athletes, but a lso increased his aud ience appea l , his rapport with the press, and ultimately, his marketability. For journalists, Whitf ield's sincerity and comfort with the media were defining features of his personality and increased, in some c a s e s , their interest in the Whitfield story. In other words, journalists covered the Whitf ield story with particular attention because of his attractive personality and his media rapport. "...he contributed to his own media image. Just the personality that he has came through in the media. I don't think the media went out to create him as an all- Canadian boy, I think he created that image himself. He actually is a really nice guy so that comes through. Often that doesn't come through, I mean if a guy's flat. But he has a very expressive personality - and without being cocky - and I think that really comes through that he's expressive, he's happy, and he portrays well. He projects well without that sense of cockiness about him. I think the media picked up on that." (J-1, Male, Local paper) Whitf ield's ability to deliver a strong quote and his conf idence in speaking to media and in front of large groups made him a favourite target of journalists and was cited as an important reason as to why he received signif icant coverage. For example , one journalist commented on the enviable d i lemma of having too much information and having to choose from a multitude of possib le ang les after interviewing Whitf ield. Th is , according to veteran journalists, w a s in sharp 91 contrast to the average athlete, particularly amateur or O lympic athlete, who often lacks conf idence and/or exper ience deal ing with sports media which invariably results in a much more difficult ass ignment for journal ists. "And again, I think that made the story almost easier, because there was so much there. I remember...saying, 'You know, you could approach this from so many angles.' You know, he was the underdog or he was the kid that made good after being a bit of a jerk, the whole Australian angle, and forging the friendships and coming back there to win the big medal at the opera house. There were just so many angles with Simon that it was a bit of a banquet in terms of story angles and story ideas." (J-3, Female, Regional paper) Similarly, all five journalists descr ibed Whitf ield's sincerity in contrast to many success fu l contemporary sports f igures. For example , journalists listed professional athletes or amateur athletes who have exper ienced previous athletic s u c c e s s as often jaded by the media process or so over-pract iced as to make their responses stale and c l iched. Accord ing to these journalists, Whitfield d isp layed neither of these tendencies, in large part because he w a s receiving significant media attention for the first t ime. Whitfield demonstrated a natural affinity for speak ing to the press that made covering him relatively easy and enjoyable. "He was unpracticed. He was a pretty good example of someone who hadn't had much media attention outside of the triathlon world except when the Olympics approached. And (if he had received prior media attention) it was just a 'Hey, let's meet our Olympians' kind of thing. But he wasn't like a track star, hockey player, basketball player, or a skier who'd been interviewed to death. The comments were un-rehearsed and spontaneous and, like I said, he also spoke in complete sentences, which was a treat." (J-5, Female, National paper) "But a lot of that too is people used to dealing with the media (and) people still being interested in the whole process. Because if you've been asked the same question 15,000 times and I come to you and ask it again, you may not come up with a real snappy quote. You may just bite something off...But this Whitfield guy, that may have been the first time he was ever interviewed was in Sydney and I think that's part of it too is that a guy like that hasn't had a chance to be jaded by it." (J-2, Male, Regional paper) 92 Ultimately, journalists suggested that the Whitfield story w a s inf luenced to some degree on a personal level. S ince reporters were attracted to Whitf ield's personality and his confident, articulate, l iaisons with the press, the coverage afforded Whitfield w a s subsequent ly positive. "I mean I haven't seen him since (the Olympics) but I can see his smiling face in front of me as though it was yesterday. I mean, he left a big impression on me, not what I wrote about him, but he the person. I remember that." (J-5, Female, National paper) Clear ly , Whitfield was perceived by journalists as unpract iced and fresh because , for the most part, he was . In his own words, Whitf ield's relationship with the media and his ability to conduct himself in a natural and s incere manner were the result of being thrust into the spotlight after his victory in Sydney . "It's been a learning experience dealing with the media in general because it's something that you're not necessarily taught, you kind of learn through trial and error or through... I think the media actually, or the public kind of watched me grow up media-wise. Grow more with my understanding of how it worked and how there's never really the off the record comment. They watched me learn how that worked so I came by it pretty honestly." (Simon Whitfield) At the s a m e time, Whitfield descr ibed his strategies in posit ively handl ing the media attention paid to him and revealed, at least in part, why he had been so clearly perceived by journalists as well as marketers as genuine despi te the pressure of the media spotlight. "I had a pretty naive approach to (dealing with the media), but then I've just learned to pretty much say anything that I thought and as much as people give you (that) advice, it's true, you just be yourself. So I kind of learned that...the funniest thing people have told me is 'Man, you're actually still a nice guy! Y'know, you're a nice guy.' And I'm like, 'Are you kidding? I think I was like this before! I think I was an alright guy before.' So why would I change?" (Simon Whitfield) Interestingly, Whitfield a lso acknowledged that the more pract iced he became in interview situations and deal ings with the media, the more pol ished and refined 93 became his responses . Thus , despite his descript ion of his approach to media coverage as "naive," he a lso recognized the need to practice his media ski l ls. "The one thing that's really interesting is when I talk to media a little's like you become practiced at it. (If) you watch me a week into Commonwealth Games, talking to media, I'm much more articulate...I'm able to get across what I wanted to say, I answer the questions much better than the first couple of interviews. It's not something that I thought of before but you need the practice, it's just like training, you need the practice of it. You get back into being able to process 'Well, what's this question really about and how do I want to answer it?' And, how do I give a truthful response that doesn't necessarily...that still only tells the things that I want to. Y'know there's certain things that I don't want people to know, they're not other people's business. So, how do I do those things?" (Simon Whitfield) Whitf ield's genu ineness and the resulting positive media coverage transferred over to his s u c c e s s in marketing and sponsorship as wel l . Marketers cited Whitf ield's natural ease , the fact that he was articulate, energet ic, and outgoing as reasons that they were interested in aligning their product and brand with him. Clear ly , Whitf ield's personality and conf idence in public increased marketers' conf idence in deal ing professional ly with him. "I think he was number one, a very well-spoken, energetic, enthusiastic individual. He created a very important point of history, I guess you could say, with solidifying the first ever gold medal at a triathlon in the Olympics. He represents, as I mentioned, our brands very well in consideration to the health aspect, and as I said already, the enthusiasm and energetic aspect." (M-2, Male, Food products) "Simon is very personable, he's a very genuine person, and y'know, people see that when they interact with him. I think the media was probably portraying what they saw, (but) we saw (his sincere personality) before that. So that's one of the things that we consider before we start these relationships (with athletes)." (M-4, Male, Fitness apparel) Marketers ' conf idence in Whitf ield's personality inf luenced their strategies in working with him. For example , the marketer from the sports nutrition company expla ined a marketing strategy that involved inviting customers and retailers to participate in recreational running and cycl ing events with Whitf ield, providing an 94 opportunity for key stakeholders to learn from an Olympic gold medallist about the positive elements of the product and the brand. The marketer was clear that this type of strategy only works if the company has confidence that the celebrity product endorser can speak confidently and knowledgeably about the product and do so in an engaging and charismatic manner. In essence, companies were attracted to Whitfield as a product endorser because they felt confident entrusting the image and equity of their brand to him. Marketers also described this confidence in terms of Whitfield's product knowledge and his ability as a company spokesman to speak knowledgeably and confidently about the products that he was endorsing. This was seen by marketers to be an important element of the marketing mix especially when combined with an understanding that Whitfield did in fact use the products that he was endorsing. Marketers commented on how the understanding of Whitfield as an actual user of the products being endorsed contributed to a heightened sense of genuineness in the marketing function that could potentially overcome consumers' skepticism of celebrity athlete product endorsement. Positioning Whitfield not only as a product spokesperson but also as a successful product user was seen by marketers to be a valuable strategy within their marketing mix. "(Whitfield) was actually using our product before he made it big. So that's very appealing as someone that when he's interviewed about his sponsors or he's talking to other athletes or any of those kinds of things, he's talking knowledgeably about our product mix. The other thing is he recognized - as I said he came to us before we came to him, in a sense wanting to use our products - because he recognized the type of company we were and the position that we were looking for in the marketplace. So we respected his knowledge and how he was looking for safe, positive products that he could use." (M-1, Male, Sports nutrition) 95 Within this strategy, one marketing practitioner in particular pointed out the need to recognize the difference between Whitfield the gold medal winner and high performance athlete and the average consumer of their product who in most c a s e s would be compet ing at a much different level. In this c a s e , the marketing strategy tended to downplay Whitf ield's gold medal ach ievement and instead posit ioned him as simply an active individual, performing the events that compr ise a triathlon, and representing Whitfield as an example of an athlete who benefits from the product line. This strategy appeared to build on Whitf ield's s incere and genuine personality as a way to bridge the gap between Whitf ield's elite level of athletic performance and a recreational level in order to position the product as access ib le and appropriate for the recreational athlete. Final ly, one marketer descr ibed the characterist ics of Whitf ield's personali ty as strategically attractive because of an understanding and appreciat ion of the contemporary consumer as media savvy - descr ibed in a manner similar to Whitfield - and able to recognize, interpret, and ultimately reject artificial or manipulated media coverage and marketing campa igns . "People can detect artifice pretty quickly, especially younger people who have become so media savvy that it's easy for people to be almost jaded about athletes and athlete sponsorship. Anyways, that's our rationale (for working with Whitfield)." (M-1, Male, Sports nutrition) Thus , marketers and journalists emphas ized the importance of Whitf ield's media savvy, his articulate speak ing ability, and his interpersonal skil ls as attractive features. Marketers emphas ized his product knowledge, sincerity and shared commitment and ideas as fundamental to their interest in him. It is reasonable to conc lude that these factors inf luenced the extent to which Whitf ield received 9 6 significant, posit ive media coverage and that he was able to utilize this coverage in terms of marketing and sponsorsh ip. The 'new' sport of triathlon W h e n d iscuss ing the newsworth iness of S imon Whitfield and exploring the reasons that affected his media image and popularity after the Sydney G a m e s , an emergent theme was the impact of the new sport of triathlon. Journal ists and marketers descr ibed the impact of triathlon in severa l different contexts. First, triathlon was descr ibed by three journalists as a high profile sport at the Sydney g a m e s , both in terms of local fan interest and media attention, as well as in terms of its historical importance. The historical importance s temmed from the fact that the Sydney G a m e s marked triathlon's debut as an Olympic event with full medal status. This high interest and sense of history increased the importance that journalists' attached to Whitf ield's victory and contributed, according to one particular journalist, to the dramatic e lements, and newsworthy qualit ies, of the Whitfield story. "I think it was (newsworthy), again because it was the first time that gold medals were going to be awarded (for triathlon) and I mean it being such a big sport for Australia, there was a lot of hype around it, which kind of heightened the importance. I mean, it wasn't l ike...some sports do draw more attention than others. I think triathlon has a pretty good profile throughout the world. I think its first introduction into the Olympics made it sort of a bigger thing." (J-3, Female, Regional paper) Two other journalists commented on the perception of triathlon as an intense test of athletic fortitude and mental toughness, a notion that contributed to the perception and construction of Whitfield as a heroic figure who w a s able to overcome adversity and persevere on the way to victory. For one of these 97 reporters, this meaning w a s a lso l inked to Whitf ield's Canad ian identity in that it reflected notions of Canad ian culture. "The event, first of all (was important), because his event is such a monumental test of endurance... I'm a person that has a tremendous admiration for the sport (of triathlon) and anyone that can do all those things and do them well." (J-5, Female, National paper) "'s not a finesse sport, triathlon, and we're not a finesse country. We're a 'Put the shoulder down and drive' and 'Go hard' kind of (country)." (J-2, Male, Regional paper) For another reporter the sport of triathlon contributed to Whitf ield's underdog status within C a n a d a because the event did not hold the s a m e level of importance for Canad ian sports fans. This reporter again illustrated the adjustments that reporters made in covering Whitfield after he won, as well as suggested that Whitf ield's victory had significantly affected the visibility of the sport in C a n a d a . "...generally, across Canada I don't think anyone really knew anything about (triathlon) and nobody still would if Simon Whitfield hadn't done what he did. I don't think anyone was expecting it to be a big hit sport for Canada going in, even the night before, nobody thought it would be the big story the next day because nobody had ever heard of Simon Whitfield. And in Australia it was big, 250,000 people lined the course. I think it has really raised the profile. You go anywhere in Canada, people know what triathlon is because of Simon Whitfield." (J-1, Male, Local paper) A s for marketers, two of the four interview respondents perceived a heightened s e n s e of historical importance attached to Whitf ield's gold medal because he w a s the first person ever to win an Olympic gold medal in men 's triathlon. This importance made Whitfield a more marketable figure. "So that appealed to us but also just having him win that first gold medal, and the first time they had the triathlon in the Olympics and then he wins Canada's first gold medal (was also appealing)." (M-1, Male, Sports nutrition) 98 Whitf ield's athletic good looks A n unanticipated result of the interviews was the f requency with which respondents, particularly journalists, cited Whitf ield's physical appearance and athletic good looks as an important characterist ic in the coverage afforded him and his resulting media image. Interestingly, journalists primarily spoke about Whitf ield's physical attractiveness not as a defining characterist ic in their own coverage of him but rather as a contributing factor to the general ly posit ive image that Whitfield w a s able to cultivate in the press and parlay into marketing opportunit ies. T w o journalists speculated that Whitf ield's popularity among the Canad ian public may have deve loped akin to that of a teen idol, particularly among young females , an image that was cultivated in s o m e part by the media coverage that he received after winning the gold medal . "Simon really epitomizes...I mean he's a young, good-looking guy and that never hurts. Y'know, I'm sure there is a young girl component (involved in his popularity). Y'know he's attractive, he's articulate, he has those aspects. Looks do count for something, being articulate does count for something. And, y'know Simon does have that package. There are a lot of athletes that maybe have that, but they're not at ease with the public, but Simon's got this little bit of a folksy way and I think that that has really helped him." (J-3, Female, Regional paper) "I mean, he's a good looking guy, but he's not an overly good looking guy, he's a guy that guys could relate to but he's good looking enough that girls go: Hey, I could dig him. And mom's could see him as their daughter's boyfriend." (J-2, Male, Regional paper) Converse ly , marketers did not identify Whitf ield's looks as a reason for involving their company, product or brand with him. Rather, his energy, youthfulness, speak ing ability and genuine personality were identified more than his good looks. Yet , those most responsible for d isseminat ing the information that contributed directly to Whitf ield's media image, the journalists cover ing him, felt that his physical appearance played a role in the construct ion of his posit ive 99 media image. Therefore, it s e e m s unlikely that the image of S imon Whitfield would have been as marketable and useful to sponsors , without the posit ive coverage attached to his perceived physical gifts. The Whitfield story and the production of (good) news In addit ion to the themes previously examined, interviews with journalists revealed some general insights into the nature of news production as it related to the Whitfield case . For example , journalists conveyed a general sense that the coverage afforded Whitf ield, and the key themes prevalent in the coverage of his gold medal , w a s the result of newsmakers , including editors and journal ists, publishing news that they perceived as attractive to aud iences . In the c a s e of Whitf ield, this w a s done for several reasons. First, two of the five journalists descr ibed a perception of sports fans and media aud iences as craving the rise of a celebrity to whom they could attach symbol ic meaning and derive pleasure. In this way, Whitf ield w a s posit ioned as an opportunity for newsmakers to del iver upon aud iences ' w ishes , namely an heroic figure with a strong Canad ian identity who brought wor ld-c lass recognition to his country. O n e of the journalists that descr ibed the cravings of sports fans a lso cited editors' attention to the often oppressively negative stories that are p laced on the front page of newspapers and as lead stories on television. Thus , S imon Whitfield became a story worthy of coverage due, in some part, to the opportunity it afforded newsmakers to lead with a positive p iece, one that would stand in 100 contrast to predominantly negative stories and in turn, help increase aud ience sat isfact ion. It is significant in this d iscuss ion to note that neither the textual analys is nor the interview results revealed anything substantial written about Whitfield that cast him in a negative light or appeared to tarnish his media image. Of the journalists that covered Whitf ield, two groups emerged : those on a regular sports beat who had covered Whitfield extensively and knew him on a personal level , and those journalists who had been ass igned to cover Whitf ield after the Olympics for one or two stories. Of the former group, Whitf ield's posit ive media image appeared to be inf luenced by his genu ine-ness, his ability to speak well and the general ly held notion of him as a personable, approachab le individual. The resulting coverage w a s positive. Of the latter group, the resulting coverage was posit ive again not out of a personal connect ion or relationship with Whitfield but because of a lack of t ime and a c c e s s to information regarding his character. In other words, journalists who were new to the Whitfield story sugges ted that if the only a c c e s s to Whitfield w a s through press conferences, in some c a s e s organized and mediated by pubic relations staff working for a corporate sponsor , then it hampered their ability to conduct independent research, or in-depth interviews, while still meeting their deadl ines. Thus , severa l journalists conveyed a sense of capitulation, an understanding that they may not have a c c e s s e d the true Whitfield but had little choice when needing to meet the requirements of the story and the newspaper . "I mean, it was a really straight-ahead story. They don't get much more straight- ahead than that. When you don't know someone, when you don't have time to spend time with them, when you don't get them one-on-one, when you don't 101 have a background with them, it's really straight-ahead. I mean, it's just about the most straight-ahead assignment you can get...there was no hiding stuff, no having to cut important information for space, not that I remember anyway." (J-4, Male, Regional paper) "It's a one off for me. (The editor says)This is your assignment for the day, you go back and write your high school and university tomorrow but today we need you to come up with some story on Whitfield.' And some guys would go in and not even ask a question, they'd just stick their mic in the scrum, some guys would try and get a decent angle on it, a different angle, try and get something more than the standard C P : 'Simon Whitfield returned home today and he was really happy.'" (J-2, Male, Regional paper) Consequent ly , journalists cover ing Whitfield for the first t ime a lso quest ioned whether any of their peers had researched deeper into the Whitfield story in an effort to find a more personal image, an image that perhaps would have resulted in different media coverage. "I think it was a happy story. I don't think that anybody really - I'm not saying he was up to anything - but I don't think anybody looked real hard. Everybody was going in there to put a positive spin on it. He won the gold medal." Interviewer: So you go in to put the positive spin on it because that makes it a better story? "Because there's a feeling of that's what people want. 'Isn't it great?' Did anybody really bust their ass to see if there was anything in Whitfield's past? Did anybody do a whole lot of research and make a lot of phone calls, phone his High School teachers? No. It's a simple three hours, spend an hour and a half there, go home, spend an hour and a half writing. You're done for the day. That's the Whitfield story. That's a sad fact, but..."(J-2, Male, Regional paper) In this s e n s e , journalists suggested that there was a general understanding of the Whitfield story as an inherently positive one and that this understanding resulted in posit ive coverage of Whitf ield. Another element of the Whitfield story that was important in the construct ion of good news was Whitf ield's local ties and connect ions with local communi t ies. For newspapers in British Co lumb ia , and particularly in Victor ia where Whitfield l ives and trains part of the year, the geographic and community 102 angle made coverage of his gold medal victory a priority. Th is attraction to the hometown angle w a s seen not so much as a means of construct ing a posit ive media image but rather as a strategy of producing interesting news stories for a particular market. In fact the hometown angle was descr ibed by journalists as an institutional news tool, a standard element in the coverage of Canad ian Olympians . "For me it was, for (my paper), (the focus) was definitely the home-town angle. Born in Kingston, lived in Victoria. Y'know he was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame last week which is really odd for a 27 year-old in the middle of his career, getting inducted with all of these really old guys but that's what an Olympic Gold medal will do for you." (J-1, Male, Local paper) A s wel l , a journalist from a British Co lumb ia newspaper recounted how she altered her work schedu le in an effort to find Whitfield and provide a uniquely local angle to the story of his gold medal victory. In her recount, the journalist made this decis ion in anticipation of the newspaper 's requirement of a story with a local angle, one that differed from the standard copy being produced for the national newspaper chain. In other words, local news outlets wanted, and ultimately rece ived, a different coverage of Whitfield because of his local t ies. "It was important because initially if Simon hadn't got a medal, (a colleague) would have covered it for the chain, but I knew (my paper) would want something from me being the British Columbia representative, they would want something I knew at some point I was going to have to catch up with Simon and do a very separate story from what went out on the chain." (J-3, Female, Regional paper) 103 Med ia Shel f Life A final point to emerge from interviews with journalists and marketers regarding S imon Whitfield was a general consensus that Whitf ield's posit ive media image, and in turn the value of associat ing his image with a brand or product, were, in varying degrees, subject to time constraints. In other words, journalists and marketers agreed that Whitfield had a peak in terms of media and marketing attract iveness, and , in turn, a shelf life with regard to newsworth iness and image. This perception of a time-limited mediated image appeared to affect the strategies employed both by the journalists in constructing their stories and the marketers in developing and implementing marketing plans involving Whitf ield. The perceived time limits placed on the impact of Whitf ield's media image and marketability were directly linked to his gold medal accompl ishment . Al l five journalists agreed that the gold medal victory in Sydney afforded Whitfield a public profile, but only within a certain t imeframe and it was within this t imeframe that Whitfield w a s most effective in parlaying his media coverage into marketing and bus iness opportunit ies. Journal ists anticipated a relatively short t ime period before Whitf ield's public image would decl ine. "So I think they have a shelf life, Olympians have a shelf life, and I think Simon's is (dependent on) if he wins again in Athens...your shelf life is through to the next Olympics. And I think that if he doesn't win gold in Athens, I think it's over for him as far as marketing possibilities. I think he'll be yesterday's news. And it'll be the next guy, the next thing." (J -1 , Male, Local paper) "The media is pretty fickle, they'll say 'What have you won lately, Simon?' You didn't win this World Cup or that World Cup, the World Championships were in Edmonton (Whitfield finished sixth). So fame is also quite fleeting in terms of the media as well and I think he has to sort of prove it again that he wasn't a one hit wonder." (J-3, Female, Regional paper) 104 For all journal ists, this decl ine in Whitf ield's media p resence w a s nearly inevitable given the s u c c e s s e s later enjoyed by other Canad ian athletes - three journal ists cited Canad ian Olympic figure skaters Jamie S a l e and David Pel let ier as having taken Whitf ield's p lace - as well as the need for journalists to stay current in their reporting. "Oh yeah, (the shelf life is) not long. I think that people are looking for somebody new all of the time. Somebody new to buy into and you kind of get tired of (previous stories) after a while. All of a sudden Sale and Pelletier are the 'in' athletes right now. People want to know what they're doing, you're seeing all of those stories now, those little blurbs, whereas it used to be Whitfield, or it used to be Daniel Igali, or it used to be someone else. I mean the next one could be: 'who knows?' There's always a place for that great underdog story." (J-2, Male, Regional paper) "I mean, you have to go with what's current. That's what news is, it's not what happened two years ago, it what's happened now or last week or whatever and you have to be aware of that. I mean, it's not very nice and I don't think it's easy for the athletes as well." (J-3, Female, Regional paper) Journal ists a lso suggested that for Whitfield to create more public attention in the future, he had to continue winning major triathlon events, particularly another Olympic gold medal . This was interesting given journalists' recognition and understanding that Whitf ield's ability to win another gold medal w a s constra ined by the fact that the Olympic G a m e s are held once every four years . A s wel l , according to one journalist, less high profile events such as the Commonwea l th G a m e s - at which Whitfield won the gold medal in the triathlon on August 4 t h , 2002 - do not afford athletes the s a m e media attention. Thus , journalists suggested that Whitf ield's media image would decl ine in non-Olympic years , before building in anticipation of his Olympic gold medal de fense. "I think you have a grace period after the Olympics, until the next Olympics, I really do. Because I don't think people remember World Champions, (even though) it's just as tough, the same competition, same people, in fact more, 105 because in the Olympics you have to cut back on the number of entrants, but at the World Championships you can have as many people as you want so all of the best are there in the world, not just a select best. So it's a tougher event to win. (But) I don't think the World Championships covers one tenth of the impact of an Olympic medal." (J-1, Male, Local paper) In response to this general ly held v iew of Whitf ield's t ime constrained media image, one journalist suggested that Whitfield deserved intense and positive media coverage surrounding his Olympic Go ld medal because the window of opportunity to receive recognition - and turn his media attention into bus iness opportunit ies - would c lose quickly. "You know, it's the Andy Warhol quote but for an Olympian it's usually true for most of them, they really do only get 15 minutes in the sun so unless they've been a complete asshole which is rare, I think they deserve the attention and they deserve a bit of adulation not for winning but for the work that they put into it for so long. I mean it breaks my heart when I think about it today, and not many of them are lucky enough to - or good enough to - win a gold." (J-5, Female, National paper) Thus , journalists seemed to descr ibe a type of self-fulfilling prophecy in which the media focused on Whitfield intensely and for a short period of t ime in anticipation of the decl ine of his public image. Clear ly, however, this decl ine was directly impacted by the dec is ions made by journalists in terms of who and what to cover. Genera l ly , marketers shared the perception of the temporal nature of Whitf ield's public profile. In two c a s e s , this perception inf luenced marketers' strategies in terms of branding strategies with Whitf ield. "Even now, we have people who won't recognize Simon Whitfield or the brand because his profile is going down and that's why I said, when we branded (the product), it's (the product name), but it (also says) Simon Whitfield. We're always, on all of our (labels), saying 'Simon Whitfield, Canada's Olympic Gold Medallist, Triathlon.' So . . . rarely do we just say Simon Whitfield, it's always we have to help to create awareness about who he is. So that's a little bit of a challenge on our side." (M-1, Male, Sports nutrition) "You know, a week after the Olympics, maybe 5 to 7 to 10 days after the Olympics are done, there is such low interest in the Canadian environment in the 106 Olympics. So reflecting upon that, it's difficult to keep that (public image) alive, however, (Whitfield) has gone out and won World Championships and other key competitions that has created that energy and has created that kind of newsworthy note within himself and to the general public of Canada. So that definitely has enhanced his marketability." (M-2, Male, Food products) For marketers, the perception of Whitf ield's shelf life necessi tated marketing strategies that focussed on his accompl ishments but were a lso implemented as soon as possib le after the Olympic games . Marketers and sponsors held similar v iews of the difficulty of holding the publ ic 's attention and maintaining a high public profile surrounding athletes like Whitf ield, however, they differed in their approach as compared to journalists. W h e r e a s journalists commented on the need to find the next scoop in amateur sport, marketers had more invested in the Whitfield relationship and thus, focused more on Whitf ield's ach ievements in subsequent events such as World Champ ionsh ips and the Commonwea l th G a m e s as ev idence of the maintenance of his high profile and worthiness as a product endorser and sponsee . Ultimately, while marketers felt the need to work with Whitf ield's positive image in a timely manner, in order to leverage the relationship to its max imum, every marketing representat ive interviewed descr ibed their relationship with Whitfield as long-term and ongoing. "Yeah, so I think we'll have a good association with him for a long time and really that's what we're looking to do. That's why it's so important about the quality of the person because that's the association that we want. So we would definitely have a long-term investment with him. I understand companies that want to just market him while someone's hot and then move on, there's something to be said for that too but that won't be our company. There's lots of areas where he'd be really great and useful to our company outside of just how he does at the latest event. That being said, he's doing fantastic and he's really recognized as one of the top triathletes now. We often talk to other triathletes, because we have a relationship with a number of them, and he's becoming one of those benchmark athletes." (M-1, Male, Sports nutrition) 107 With regard to the maintenance of his media image and marketability, marketers again expressed a conf idence in their relationship with Whitfield based in large part on his personal traits - genuine, friendly, articulate, outgoing - qualit ies that enabled marketers to maintain a sense of conf idence in future deal ings with Whitf ield. In other words, despite the unpredictabil ity of victory in future athletic per formances, all marketers were willing to commit to ongoing bus iness relations with Whitfield in large part because of the attractive e lements of his personali ty and the strong fit between his media image, his personali ty, and the identity of their brand. A s mentioned earlier, Whitfield shared the view that his image w a s temporal ly constrained and even suggested that he had exhausted the majority of his t ime in the media spotlight. At the same time, Whitfield a lso spoke of the anticipation of media coverage at the 2004 Olympics and w a s c lear that, based on his exper iences at the 2000 Olympic G a m e s and the 2002 Commonwea l th G a m e s he did not anticipate enjoying the inevitable media crush that would accompany a successfu l defense of his Olympic gold. "At the Commonwealth Games, I won, went through the start of this media role again and then just killed it, stopped it right away, went 'Whoa, I can't do this again, I don't need this right now.' I had that experience, it was a fun experience, following people around on a tight schedule doing interview after interview, it was fun but at the Commonwealth Games all I wanted to do was be alone, just sit down alone for an hour and say 'Wow. Just set a goal at the beginning of the year, did a lot of hard work, came over and won. Fantast ic ' My goal is to go to Athens and to try and repeat as Olympic champion. I think, they say that the legends do that and I think 'Ok, that's cool, that'd be cool.' But I want (my girlfriend) to be waiting with a car on the other side of the fence and I'll just keep running. Jump the fence, get in the car, and drive off." (Simon Whitfield) 108 Chapter V - Discussion S imon Whitf ield's gold medal victory at the Sydney O lympics offers a useful c a s e for examining how media production p rocesses inf luence, and are inf luenced by, the marketability of celebrity athletes in C a n a d a . Th is research built on prior works by MacNei l l (1996), Gruneau (1989), and Sparks (1992) by exploring the complexity and fluidity of decis ional p rocesses involved in producing media representat ions of celebrity athletes. Journal is ts ' understandings of the media production process and their interpretations of the important e lements of the Whitfield story resulted in relatively consistent coverage based on themes of national identity and the value of a winning performance. Marketers, on the other hand, v iewed an assoc iat ion with Whitfield as attractive because of the positive meanings that he brought to their brands and products. In this way, the Whitfield case revealed an interconnected cultural relationship between media image and marketability within the spor ts /media complex, highlighted by intertextual l inkages between media representat ions and sponsorsh ip and endorsements . Finally, sports journalists' and sports marketers' descr ibed their interactions with the Whitfield story as constra ined by institutional, professional , and personal factors that they were forced to negotiate as they worked towards producing attractive stories or increasing the equity of their brand, respectively. This sect ion d i scusses the cultural and theoretical implications of the study's results. 109 Sports media production and the audience commodity The textual reading, keyword search , and interviews with journalists revealed recurring themes in Whitf ield's coverage that the journalists identified as important in developing their story l ines. T h e s e privileged themes - the importance afforded Whitf ield's gold medal , the national pride attached to his victory, the perception of his victory as an affirmation of Canad ian s u c c e s s , and the reposit ioning of his image from an underdog to a hero - are similar in some ways to the dominant d iscourses - "national heroes, competit ive individual ism in team sports, notions of rugged athletic masculinity, myths of nat ionhood, and the consumer hegemony of North Amer ican society" - identified by MacNei l l (1996, p. 104) in her study of Canad ian Olympic hockey coverage. Accord ing to the journalists interviewed in this study, covering Whitfield was worthwhile because of these e lements, and integrating these themes into their coverage helped the journalists to create entertaining and popular news stories. T h e s e f indings support previous sports media production studies that found some story l ines selected and reported more frequently than others in the production process (MacNei l l , 1996, Gruneau , 1989). It is important to note that journalists descr ibed these dominant themes as related to, and somet imes dependant on , situational factors in the Whitfield story such as the timing of Whitf ield's victory, the scarcity of Canad ian gold medals in Sydney , the historical importance of winning the first-ever Olympic gold medal in triathlon, and the popularity of the sport in Austral ia. The thematic cons is tenc ies were descr ibed by reporters as part of a large collection of story ang les from no which they were able or required to choose the themes that shaped their stories. B e c a u s e these situational factors were specif ic to Whitfield only, the privileging of themes in the coverage of Whitfield does not necessar i ly suggest a dominant meaning mix that can be appl ied to other athletes in other contexts. The coverage of Whitfield w a s not based on predetermined, dominant news va lues as much as it reflected the important e lements of his story as identified by the journalists ass igned to cover him. In other words, there w a s not enough ev idence in this research to suggest that the coverage of Whitfield w a s based on "[a] master ideological narrative" such as that identified with respect to sport and masculinity (Messner et a l . , 2000, p. 380). Rather, the thematic cons is tenc ies show that reporters, presented with many story ang les and opt ions from which to choose , tended to cover Whitfield in similar ways . W h e n speak ing to the production process, journalists demonstrated a wel l -developed and often critically sensit ive awareness for the manner in which their own professional and personal dec is ions had inf luenced media texts and in turn contributed to the construction of Whitf ield's media persona. Further, journalists were able to clearly articulate why dec is ions had been made in particular ways and how these dec is ions had inf luenced the final product. Often, journalists grounded their perspect ives on the Whitfield c a s e within a broad (Canadian) socia l context, suggest ing a sensitivity and awareness of their position within the larger national and cultural framework. Journal ists were not simply compl iant in the process of media construct ion, but rather active stakeholders in the identification and production of sports news. 111 Journal ists a lso descr ibed their work on Whitfield as being inf luenced by more concrete, and often institutional factors, including the expectat ions and demands of their editors, the pressure to meet deadl ines, and a lso issues to do with accessibi l i ty to interviews and information. For example , journalists shared a s e n s e that tight deadl ines, and a lack of one-on-one a c c e s s to Whitf ield, meant that their stories tended to be routine, and at t imes, even superf ic ial . The institutional factors in media production not only inf luenced, but a lso constra ined, journalists' work. Thus , journalists in the Whitfield c a s e operated at a c rossroads of professional and personal power. They conducted their work whi le being constrained by, but a lso actively negotiating and resist ing, the profess ional , and ideological forces in the media production process. Journal ists a lso identified a commitment to aud iences and reader satisfaction as an important factor in their dec is ions. The factors inf luencing media coverage of Whitfield were not v iewed by journalists as highly polit ical, buoyed by a particular socia l agenda , or anchored in dominant ideologies. Rather, the themes used to shape the Whitfield story were s e e n a s attractive, and in some c a s e s , requisite ingredients in producing truthful, entertaining, and timely sports coverage that informed aud iences and reflected the interests and des i res of med ia consumers . The implications of this commitment to aud iences are twofold. First, the results support a theoretical and empir ical concept ion of sports media production as heavily inf luenced by a routine accep tance among media producers of how to construct 'good television' (Gruneau, 1989, p.152), or, in this c a s e , good newspaper coverage. With respect to Whitf ield, journalists 112 indicated that their work was grounded in a commitment to aud ience satisfaction rather than inf luenced by political maneuver ing or professional codes . S e c o n d , the relationship to aud iences in the construction of the Whitf ield story suggests that the media production process was inf luenced, at least in part, by the desire to produce a strong aud ience commodity, the market value ass igned to aud iences by the media industry in order to effectively sel l commerc ia l t ime or s p a c e to advert isers (Sparks, 1992). Journal ists referred to organizat ional and institutional condit ions - such as editorial direction and profit goa ls - that necessi tated the production of news that was attractive to aud iences . The results of this research suggest that the Whitfield story w a s newsworthy and received significant media attention because : 1) it possessed severa l dominant and recognizable news va lues that could be seamless ly incorporated into a news story and 2) the subsequent amalgamat ion of dominant meanings w a s perceived by journalists to be useful in reaching and attracting aud iences , a key component of success fu l commerc ia l media (Sparks, 1992). The results a lso suggest that the media production p rocess , both in terms of the meanings constructed around Whitfield and the context in which journalists conducted their work, existed within a hegemonic framework, G ramsc i ' s (1971) concept ion of power existing in terms of both force and consent . Whitf ield's gold r medal , his construction as the a l l -Canadian boy, and his heroic image were afforded privi leged status through the production process and became the standard of Whitfield coverage. There w a s room for divergent themes within this coverage but not to the extent that these divergent representat ions contradicted 113 the accepted means of understanding and representing Whitfield's media persona. As for journalists, they described their work in covering Whitfield as a constant and active negotiation influenced by personal, professional, and institutional forces. Meeting deadlines, pleasing editors, liaising with Whitfield's sponsors and public relations staff, and accessing information were all cited as forces that had to be negotiated. Thus, within a hegemonic framework, reporters were forced to constantly decide how far they were willing to consent or how actively to resist dominant forces, in order to complete their stories. Intertextual linkages Researching the Whitfield case in terms of media production, sponsorship and product endorsement was designed to explore possible linkages between media image and marketability as they relate to contemporary celebrity athletes in Canada. Evidenced by the professional and personal perspectives of both journalists and marketers, the results suggest that linkages do exist between media production and marketing, sponsorship, and corporate communications within the sports media and sports product industries. Journalists and marketers demonstrated a clear understanding of each other's work, including goals, professional codes, and spheres of influence such as that of gatekeepers of information. In this sense, the journalists and marketers revealed an elective affinity as foreseen in Gruneau's (1989) research. This was demonstrated in part by an inclusive understanding of the sports media and promotional chain, from news reporting and image construction, to marketing and product endorsement, and by a shared recognition, understanding and 114 appreciat ion of the influence of media production on marketing and v ice ve rsa . Both groups recognized the reciprocal nature of their relationship and provided ev idence of the manner in which their professions draw on each other. Speci f ical ly, journalists recognized the role played by marketers within the promotional chain and the ability of marketers to influence the media production process by staging press conferences, regulating a c c e s s to athlete appearances , and influencing athletes' strategic dec is ions. Marketers recognized the role of journalists in influencing media images, meanings, and codes that were useful in the marketing process . The elective affinity between the two groups, based on common beliefs and interests (Gruneau, 1989), necessi tated the development of a reciprocal relationship in order that journalists and marketers could reach their professional goals . Whi le labeling these relat ionships as elect ive affinities differs slightly from Gruneau 's (1989) original use of the term - which he used to descr ibe the relationship between stakeholders working to produce a successfu l te levised sports event - the term is relevant as a way to understand that knowledge of the entire sports promotional chain served as important professional and cultural capital in both the sports media and marketing industries. The results suggest that the professional activities of journalists and marketers within the Whitfield c a s e contributed to the creat ion, perpetuation, and maintenance of a 'vortex of publicity' (Wernick, 1991), where cultural images, meanings, and codes are created, d isseminated, and eventual ly implemented in subsequent promotional activities. Within this framework, the branding of S imon 115 Whitfield would have differed had the media coverage, and its impact on his media persona, differed. Within the Whitfield publicity vortex, the cluster of mean ings that made up Whitf ield's media persona became the cultural ingredients for branding him and his image. It is important to note that the interviews revealed different opinions regarding the extent to which Whitf ield's media image affected his va lue, or more accurately, his image 's va lue, as a product endorser. However , there w a s a consensus among interviewees that the positive media representat ions of Whitfield positively impacted his marketability. Thus , in the minds of journalists and marketers, meanings and codes attached to Whitfield remained influential, at least to s o m e degree, at subsequent points along the mediated chain (Wernick, 1991). There was a lso general consensus among marketers that the mix of mean ings assoc ia ted with Whitfield was the most important reason for linking his image to their product and brand. Marketers v iewed assoc ia t ions with Whitfield as attractive because of the meanings that he brought to the relat ionship. For the most part, marketers were reluctant to completely acknowledge or credit media representat ions of Whitfield as the primary repository of the cultural codes that contributed to this meaning mix. However, based on the textual analys is and interview data, there w a s significant al ignment between the codes present in the media coverage of Whitf ield, and the meanings that marketers found attractive in terms of building brand equity through their relationships with Whitf ield. Thus , the research results suggest an intertextual relationship whereby, to some degree, 116 Whitf ield's posit ive mediated image was identified, interpreted, and incorporated into marketing strategies in an effort to build brand awareness and equity. In this way, the Whitfield c a s e is further ev idence that the commerc ia l media and sport have deve loped a symbiot ic, dependent relationship (Rowe, 2000) and a lso suggests that commerc ia l media and sports marketing may be increasingly important to each other's s u c c e s s . Clear ly , the process of creating and maintaining this type of intertextual matrix w a s inf luenced and compl icated by the ability and , in s o m e c a s e s , the insistence of both journalists and marketers to critically interpret the var ious s tages in the media production and marketing process and accordingly adjust their involvement or their perceived compl iance. Reporters and marketers both recognized the impact of their work on Whitf ield's mediated image and marketabil ity but engaged in this p rocess in individual ways , in some c a s e s embrac ing or justifying their involvement, in others outwardly rejecting their roles in the promotional vortex. In other words, no steadfast professional code was revealed as to how dec is ions are made when deal ing with media image and its impact on the marketing function. P r o c e s s e s by which Whitf ield's media image and marketability were created, organized, and employed were never l inear or static but necessar i ly inf luenced or broken down by a ser ies of complex dec is ions made by med ia and marketing practit ioners. The results suggest a link between M c C r a c k e n ' s (1989) meaning-transfer model of the successfu l celebrity endorsement and the manner in which contemporary athlete celebrity endorsements are se lec ted, constructed, 117 strategized, and implemented. Marketers who had relat ionships with Whitfield based on sponsorsh ip or product endorsements were c lear that the posit ive mix of mean ings , images , and codes that had been attached to Whitf ield w a s a primary reason for entering into a bus iness arrangement with him and linking his image to their brand. In most c a s e s , marketers perceived a strategic al ignment between the meanings assoc ia ted with Whitf ield, and the meanings that they wished to assoc ia te to their product. In turn, and in acco rdance with M c C r a c k e n ' s (1989) model , Whitfield was v iewed as a cultural vehic le, a means by which to transfer meanings from the endorser to the product. Thus , marketers ' perspect ives on the Whitf ield relationship were c losely tied to, and appeared to support, M c C r a c k e n ' s framework. Marketers differed somewhat on the origin of the cultural codes through which they intended to build stronger brands, but media image w a s an important factor. Strategical ly, the primary use of the product endorsement w a s to effectively relate the meanings attached to Whitfield to the product and strengthen and improve brand equity. Whi le it is problematic to speculate on the effect iveness of this process (see d iscuss ion of aud iences below) it is c lear from this research that marketers were most interested in associat ing with Whitfield because of the posit ive consumer percept ions that would be created by the relat ionship. Increased sa les and market share, while clearly important to these compan ies , were secondary to the goal of increasing equity and awareness among consumers of the brand by associat ing it with Whitfield and his image. 118 The Meaninq(s) of Whitfield A s ment ioned earlier, journalists ass igned to the Whitf ield story identified a plethora of factors that inf luenced the production of his media image and somet imes varied in their opinions as to the factors that most inf luenced the coverage of Whitf ield's gold medal victory in the Canad ian press. This variety made it difficult to identify a tight mix of cultural codes with which to descr ibe Whitf ield's media image. However, the results a lso suggest that, within the Whitfield c a s e , particular themes were privi leged, or afforded more s igni f icance, and this resulted in coverage that most likely held particular socia l meanings for media consumers . The results a lso show that this coverage was often consistent with the meanings and codes involved in Whitf ield's role as an endorser of consumer products. Cons ider ing previous research examining the impact of mediated sports m e s s a g e s and advert isements among aud iences (Wilson & Sparks , 1996, 1999), it is reasonable and important to d i scuss potential impacts of the portrayals of Whitf ield. First, journalists clearly posit ioned Whitf ield's gold medal as a crucial e lement in their coverage, and as a fundamental factor in determining Whitf ield's newsworth iness. W h e n asked to speculate, journalists were c lear that Whitfield would not have received similar coverage without a gold medal victory at the Sydney Olympics . In fact, several journalists pointed to non-medal winning Canad ian athletes - athletes not afforded significant coverage - as examp les of the most likely scenar io faced by Whitfield had he not won the gold. To whatever extent media representat ions may be understood as social ly legitimating (Jhally, 119 1984, MacNeill, 1996), this coverage may have served to reinforce social and cultural norms that place winning above participation within the value structure of the Canadian sport system and within the broader Canadian context. At the very least, the Whitfield case, and in turn the results of this research, should serve as a reinforcement to sport stakeholders as to the value placed on winning in Canadian media in terms of news selection and construction. It should be noted that some journalists expressed discomfort with the social value placed on winning and its reflection in media production, and therefore the issue requires a measure of reflexivity in its analysis. Since journalists were clear that their coverage was guided by their desire to deliver entertaining and informative news to audiences, it is reasonable to suggest that the media coverage of Simon Whitfield was primarily a reflection of journalists' perceptions of audiences' interests. However, if media representations do, to varying degrees, legitimate cultural forms, the representations of Whitfield in Canadian media may have had some negative as well as positive social impacts, as seen for example in the emphasis on winning. Second, Whitfield was interpreted and positioned as quintessential̂ Canadian, and in some instances, as a representation of the Canadian hero based on a number of factors, most notably his focus, desire and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, his overall fastidiousness, and his genuine, understated, and gracious manner in victory. It is reasonable to suggest that these portrayals tended to oversimplify the often contestable meanings of citizenship and national identity within the multicultural and oft-changing 120 Canad ian cultural landscape (Rowe et a l . , 1998, J a c k s o n , 1994). This w a s most evident in interview data where Whitfield w a s identified a s the 'a l l -Canadian boy,' or as 'a good Canad ian kid.' Whi le nothing to the effect w a s overtly stated, there was an underlying sense that this particular recognit ion, understanding, and interpretation of Whiti feld's image was inf luenced by a traditional concept ion of a 'Canad ian ' as one of European descent and one who demonstrates the White, middle c lass cultural and socia l affinities assoc ia ted with Whitf ield. Thus , the results suggest that the heroic portrayals of Whitf ield, c losely tied to his national identity, were perhaps based on stereotypical notions of Canad ian race and ethnicity as Whi te and Ang lo -Saxon . Profess ional negotiation within the Spor t /Media Comp lex With respect to S imon Whitf ield, the chain of sports med ia production - the organizat ion and execut ion of the sporting spectac le , the coverage of the event by m a s s media , and the marketing and corporatization of an athlete and his image - was linked by the professional and institutional understandings of key stakeholders and practit ioners. A s mentioned above, there w a s clearly an intertextual nature to the Whitfield case in that media organizat ions, marketing organizat ions, and sport organizat ions, relied on each others work to complete the media production chain in a manner that benefited all s takeholders. A s noted, this demonstrates an elective affinity (Gruneau, 1989) between journalists and marketers within the sport /media complex (Jhally, 1984), and highlights the manner in which sport spectac le is created to aid in capital accumulat ion and 121 cultural legitimation. Initially, this appeared to be an over-arching force in the c a s e of S imon Whitf ield. However , the results of the Whitfield case also suggest that the chain of sports media production is not institutionally or ideological ly f ixed. Rather, interviews with journalists and marketers revealed a large degree of professional interpretation, dec is ion-making, and negotiation between perceived compl iance and resistance, often based on personal va lues and exper iences. Journal ists d isplayed a critical sensitivity for their role in cultural production and indicated that they actively negotiate their contributions to the marketing of athletes and consumer products. Marketers a lso d isplayed a sensitivity towards perpetuating problematic aspec ts of culture and st ressed the need for authenticity and sincerity in their marketing campa igns in order to build strong ties with their customers. It is reasonable to suggest that, particularly with respect to marketers, their motivations were driven by profit maximizat ion, but the fact remains that they d isp layed an active and sensit ive connect ion to their role in the sport /media complex. For all interview respondents, this negotiation was based on a combinat ion of professional perceptions and responsibi l i t ies, coupled with personal va lues and exper iences. T h e s e results suggest the need for future case studies of other celebrated athletes as a means of better understanding how sports media m e s s a g e s are produced in the face of individual negotiations by practit ioners within the sport /media complex. 122 Viewing S imon Whitfield through a Marxist lens This study primarily focused on the meanings that journalists included in their coverage of S imon Whitfield and the ways in which these meanings contributed to the marketability of Whitf ield's image. In this s e n s e , both the textual analys is and the interviews employed a micro-level approach to examining sports media production, in that they scrut inized the socia l and professional p rocesses surrounding a single athlete. However , given the theoretical f ramework that shaped this study, informed by macro-theor ies of ideology, hegemony, and spectac le, it is important to situate the results of the study within this approach. The thematic consis tencies in the coverage of Whitfield - his Canad ian identity, his value as an Olympic champion, and his transformation from underdog to hero - were reflective of journalists' understandings of how to create truthful, entertaining, and attractive newspaper coverage. A s ment ioned earlier, the goal of building a strong aud ience commodity and the formation of elective affinities played a role in constructing these thematic cons is tenc ies at the production level. However , it is a lso a reasonable conclus ion that these recurring themes were acceptable and useful because they fell within the boundar ies of mean ings that reflected the dominant and accepted ideology or, "organized thoughts" (Lull, 1995, p. 6), of sports media production and broader culture. Journal ists ' coverage of Whitfield was constrained by institutional and organizat ional factors as well as personal and professional notions of what constitutes "good" news and entertainment. Ascr ib ing accepted codes of 123 meaning to Whitf ield's media image - codes that journalists understood to reflect a dominant Canad ian identity and ideology - w a s a tool that reporters used to negotiate the cha l lenges that they encountered in the production process . T h e s e codes are cultural and exhibit socia l and political va lues at a macro level. The dec is ions made by journalists in their struggle to make meaning of the Whitfield story were also influenced by historical and socia l relations. Journal ists ' understandings, interpretations, and dec is ions regarding the meanings of Whitfield could be interpreted as consistent with the meanings historically attached to previous athletes and anchored in previous product ions. In this way, journalists descr ibed the Whitfield story as "straight-forward" or could treat it as a "one-of f because they recognized and understood the historical and socia l s igni f icance of Whitfield based on previous athletic events and previous media product ions as well as broader understandings of Canad ian identity, society, and culture. A ba lanced v iew is necessary here because the meanings that journalists ascr ibed to Whitfield were not invented editorially. T h e s e mean ings were based on , and deve loped through, the reporting of actual events. However , a means of account ing for thematic cons is tenc ies, particularly in considerat ion of journalists' own descr ipt ions of the production process , is to understand that making "good news" was most effective if it was based on meanings that fit within a dominant, historically located, ideology. 124 Balancing Ideology with lived experience Discussing ideology and hegemony as they relate to the case of Simon Whitfield is challenging because it requires balancing broad social theories on the one hand, and an understanding and respect for individuals' lived experiences on the other. Reconciling these two perspectives proved to be one of the major challenges of this thesis. While it was impossible to completely satisfy these two approaches simultaneously, I believe this study found an acceptable middle ground by highlighting the personal accounts of sports journalists, marketers, and an athlete and situating them within the social and cultural understandings inherent in macro-theories such as ideology, hegemony, and spectacle. In this way, this thesis used social theory to account for and explain the cultural interactions and implications of sports media and marketing production, but also provided important data, from the perspective of social actors, that informed these theoretical perspectives. Ultimately, the results make theoretical understandings more current, sensitive, and insightful. Remembering the audience There is a tendency within an exploration of meanings, codes, and values in the media production process to overlook the importance and complexity of audiences in the consumption and interpretation of media texts. It is acknowledged that claims within this research framework as to the impact of media and marketing representations of Simon Whitfield upon Canadian audiences are speculative at best. It is reasonable to suggest however, that the construction and utilization of Whitfield's media image was based in large part on 125 dominant, and perhaps hegemonic , cultural va lues that were potentially legitimated through the media production and marketing p rocesses . Limitations This research was limited in two important ways . First, it w a s impossible to know with certainty that interviewee's responses were truthful and fully d isc los ing. It is reasonable that journalists and marketers responded to interview quest ions based on their percept ions of the interviewer's requirements or in ways that protected or enhanced their image or their company 's image. S e c o n d , the ten interviews in this research represent only a smal l sample of the sports journalists and marketers involved in the Whitfield c a s e , and an even smal ler sample of sports journalists and marketers in C a n a d a . This is important when consider ing the implications of the results in terms of Canad ian sports media and marketing production and its impact on Canad ian sport culture. Future Resea rch This study represents only the beginning of an explorat ion into the sports media/market ing relationship in C a n a d a . Further ev idence is needed to understand how media and marketing impact, and are impacted by sport culture. To do so , research should move beyond Olympic sports, and c a s e studies of single athletes and examine other sectors of Canad ian sport, including, but not limited to, amateur and recreational sports, professional sports, team sports, and emerging sports such a s adventure racing and extreme sports. In fact, it is this last category, adventure racing and extreme sports, that represents the most excit ing area for research in sports media and market ing, because of the 126 important role that commerc ia l media , particularly te levis ion, and corporate sponsors have played in the development and distribution of these increasingly popular sports. Further research is a lso needed in order to continue a critical analys is of the role that sports media and marketing play in creating and perpetuating traditional meanings and codes of sport in C a n a d a and the way that these meanings contribute to hegemonic social and cultural relations. Th is research has informed notions of cultural hegemony and dominant ideologies in Canad ian sport, but it is important that these f indings be compared and contrasted with other results to create a more complete understanding of the socia l implications of sports media and marketing. 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Do you think that you would have covered Whitfield similarly or differently if he had won a silver medal? 4. Was Whitfield's Canadian-ness an important factor? Did it influence the decisions that you made with respect to covering his accomplishment? 5. Were there other elements of the Whitfield story that you considered newsworthy but may have not been reported? Why was this so? 6. Do you think that the media coverage afforded Simon Whitfield influenced his status as an endorser of consumer products? Why or why not? 7. In your view, has Whitfield remained newsworthy? Why or why not? 8. Do you anticipate further coverage of Simon Whitfield or will other individuals take his place? Marketing practitioners 1. What elements of Simon Whitfield's race did you consider marketable? 2. In your opinion, were these newsworthy marketable elements demonstrated in the resulting promotions involving Whitfield? Would you have liked to see the final coverage differ in any way? 3. How important was his gold-medal achievement? Do you think that you would have promoted or marketed Whitfield similarly or differently if he had won a silver medal? 4. Was Whitfield's Canadian-ness an important factor? Did it influence the decisions that you made with respect to associations with him? 5. Do you think that the media coverage afforded Simon Whitfield influenced his status as an endorser of consumer products? Why or why not? 6. In your view, has Whitfield remained a marketable figure? Why or why not? 7. Do you anticipate further marketing, promotions, or product endorsements involving Simon Whitfield or will other figures take his place? 134 Appendix 2 - UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board Certificate of Approval 135


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