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The media construction of Simon Whitfield : producing a Canadian Olympic champion Darnell, Simon C. 2003

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THE MEDIA C O N S T R U C T I O N O F SIMON WHITFIELD: PRODUCING A CANADIAN OLYMPIC CHAMPION by  SIMON C. DARNELL  B . H . K . , T h e U n i v e r s i t y of British C o l u m b i a , 1 9 9 9  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 THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS  in  THE FACULTY O F GRADUATE STUDIES  ( F a c u l t y of E d u c a t i o n ; S c h o o l of H u m a n K i n e t i c s )  W e a c c e p t this t h e s i s a s c o n f o r m i n g to t h e r e q u i r e d s t a n d a r d :  T H E UNIVERSITY O F BRITISH C O L U M B I A March 2003  © Simon C. Darnell, 2003  in  presenting  degree freely  at  this  the  available  copying  of  department publication  of  in  partial  fulfilment  University  of  British  Columbia,  for  this or  thesis  reference  thesis by  this  for  his thesis  and  study.  scholarly  or for  her  DE-6 (2/88)  I further  of  the  gain  shall  requirements  agree  that  agree  purposes may  financial  The University of British C o l u m b i a Vancouver, Canada  Date  I  representatives.  permission.  Department  of  be  It not  that  the  be  Library  advanced  an shall  permission for  granted  is  for  by  understood allowed  the  make  extensive  head  that  without  it  of  copying my  my or  written  Abstract T h i s t h e s i s a n a l y z e s the m e d i a c o v e r a g e a n d marketing of the C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c athlete S i m o n Whitfield. Whitfield, a 2 5 year-old from K i n g s t o n Ontario, w o n the first e v e r gold m e d a l in the O l y m p i c m e n ' s triathlon at the 2 0 0 0 S y d n e y G a m e s . T h e victory propelled him to the status of C a n a d i a n celebrity a n d afforded him i n c r e a s e d c o m m e r c i a l opportunities including corporate s p o n s o r s h i p s a n d product e n d o r s e m e n t s . T h i s r e s e a r c h c o m b i n e d two m e t h o d o l o g i e s : 1) a textual a n a l y s i s of C a n a d i a n m e d i a c o v e r a g e of Whitfield a n d a keyword s e a r c h of the c o v e r a g e , a n d 2) interviews with five C a n a d i a n sports journalists that c o v e r e d Whitfield a n d four marketing representatives from c o m p a n i e s that s p o n s o r e d Whitfield or e m p l o y e d him a s a product endorser. Whitfield w a s a l s o interviewed to provide a n athlete's perspective on the m e d i a production a n d marketing p r o c e s s e s . T h e results revealed thematic c o n s i s t e n c i e s in the C a n a d i a n m e d i a c o v e r a g e of Whitfield, particularly with respect to C a n a d i a n national identity, the v a l u e of a n O l y m p i c gold m e d a l a n d Whitfield's status a s a C a n a d i a n hero. T h e s e results support previous r e s e a r c h that found recurring t h e m e s of athletic h e r o i s m a n d myths of C a n a d i a n nationalism in the production of C a n a d i a n sports m e d i a ( M a c N e i l l , 1996, G r u n e a u , 1989). Interviews with journalists confirmed the o b s e r v e d e l e m e n t s of the Whitfield story - his C a n a d i a n identity, gold m e d a l victory, heroic p e r f o r m a n c e , a s well a s other features (genuine personality, athletic g o o d looks) - that m a d e him newsworthy. C o v e r i n g t h e s e attributes of Whitfield helped n e w s m a k e r s to p r o d u c e n e w s that w a s attractive to a u d i e n c e s , a n d maintained circulation, v i e w e r s h i p , a n d a d ratings, strengthening the m e d i a " a u d i e n c e c o m m o d i t y " ( S p a r k s , 1992). Interviews with marketers r e v e a l e d that Whitfield w a s c o m m e r c i a l l y attractive b e c a u s e the m e a n i n g s a s s o c i a t e d with his m e d i a i m a g e could be attached to brands through the e n d o r s e m e n t a n d s p o n s o r s h i p p r o c e s s in order to improve brand equity, the v a l u e that c o n s u m e r s attribute to a brand of product or service (Keller, 1993). T h e results support a model of celebrity product e n d o r s e m e n t b a s e d o n the transfer of m e a n i n g s from the e n d o r s e r to the product a n d s u b s e q u e n t l y , to the c o n s u m e r ( M c C r a c k e n , 1989). O v e r a l l , the results production a n d marketing Whitfield's positive m e d i a contributed to a "vortex of promotional c h a i n .  s u g g e s t intertextual linkages b e t w e e n m e d i a a s they relate to celebrity athletes in C a n a d a . i m a g e w a s understood to impact his marketability a n d publicity" (Wernick, 1991) by linking s t a g e s along the  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 CHAPTER III Methodology  30 34  3.1 Textual analysis of Media Coverage of Simon Whitfield  34  3.2 Interviews with Media and Marketing Practitioners CHAPTER IV Results  40 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  T a b l e 4.1 - Explanation of T h e m e s in c o v e r a g e of S i m o n Whitfield  p. 4 5  T a b l e 4.2 - S u m m a r y of Journalist Interviews  p. 56  T a b l e 4.3 - S u m m a r y of Marketer Interviews  p. 56  iv  List of Figures  G r a p h 4.1 - Whitfield K e y w o r d s e a r c h : Total R e s u l t s  p. 51  G r a p h 4.2 - Whitfield K e y w o r d s e a r c h : Linked R e s u l t s  p. 52  G r a p h 4 . 3 - Whitfield K e y w o r d s e a r c h : C B C television  p. 53  G r a p h 4.4 - Whitfield K e y w o r d s e a r c h : N e w s p a p e r and C B C television  p. 54  v  Acknowledgements M a n y t h a n k s to the following people:  T o B o b , Brian a n d S t e p h e n , for their time, effort a n d s u g g e s t i o n s T o T e d , S y d n e y a n d the entire A n n e x crew for coffee b r e a k s a n d brainstorms T o M o m , for unending support, in g r a m m a r a n d in life A n d last, but not least, to C a r r i e for being there e v e r y step of the w a y  -Simon  vi  Chapter I - Introduction  T h i s thesis e x a m i n e s the m e d i a c o v e r a g e a n d marketing of a C a n a d i a n athlete: S i m o n Whitfield. Whitfield, a 2 5 year-old from K i n g s t o n , O N w o n the first e v e r gold m e d a l in the O l y m p i c triathlon at the 2 0 0 0 S u m m e r G a m e s in S y d n e y , A u s t r a l i a . T h e victory propelled Whitfield, a relative u n k n o w n prior to the event, o n a rapid a s c e n t to the status of celebrity athlete, product e n d o r s e r a n d C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c hero. A crucial element of his a s c e n s i o n w a s the positive p r e s s a n d television c o v e r a g e he received in the C a n a d i a n c o m m e r c i a l m e d i a . C e l e b r a t o r y stories about Whitfield's victory contributed to the construction of his positive m e d i a i m a g e a n d helped to create s p o n s o r s h i p a n d e n d o r s e m e n t opportunities. T h e s e stories t e n d e d to e m p h a s i z e three t h e m e s : Whitfield's victory, his identity a s a C a n a d i a n national hero, a n d his c o m m e r c i a l rewards for winning the gold m e d a l . T h e s e t h e m e s w e r e oftentimes interwoven in the a c c o u n t s of his win a n d linked his a c h i e v e m e n t s with prominent myths about sport a n d national life. I u s e the term myth in the s e n s e of d e e p , cultural u n d e r s t a n d i n g s that resonate emotionally with s o c i a l g r o u p s (Miracle & R e e s , 1994; R o w e , M c K a y & Miller, 1 9 9 8 ; M a c N e i l l , 1996; G r u n e a u & W h i t s o n , 1993). A c c o r d i n g to R o w e et a l . : " M y t h s a r e not total d e l u s i o n s or utter f a l s e h o o d s , but partial truths that a c c e n t u a t e particular v e r s i o n s of reality a n d m a r g i n a l i z e or omit o t h e r s in a m a n n e r a p p e a l i n g to d e e p - s e a t e d e m o t i o n s " ( R o w e et a l . , 1 9 9 8 , p. 121).  1  T w o myths e s p e c i a l l y prevalent with respect to Whitfield w e r e the myths of sporting nationalism wherein sport is s e e n to create national pride a n d unity, a n d the myth of victory a s the prime g o a l of sport participation. T h e mythological construction of Whitfield a s a C a n a d i a n icon a n d national hero provides a useful opportunity to explore the c o n n e c t i o n of sport a n d nationalism in C a n a d a a n d the role that c o m m e r c i a l m e d i a play in this construction. Nationalism remains closely tied to sport d e s p i t e the blurred definition of the nation state in the f a c e of globalization ( R o w e et a l . , 1998; B l a i n , B o y l e , & O ' D o n n e l l , 1993). M e d i a t e d sports events s e r v e to create a n d legitimize the political norms of citizenship ( R o w e et a l . , 1998), yet the creation of nationalist mythologies c a n be problematic in that it narrows the a c c e p t e d definition of citizenship in the nation state a n d s e r v e s to reinforce h e g e m o n i c s o c i a l relations: " T h e m e d i a s p o r t i n g nation is s h o w n to b e d e e p l y g e n d e r e d , t e n d i n g to o b s c u r e a n d l e g i t i m i z e not o n l y h e g e m o n i c g e n d e r d i v i s i o n s , but a l s o t h o s e that a p p l y to s o c i a l c l a s s , to i n d i g e n o u s p e o p l e a n d to n o n - A n g l o / C e l t i c m i g r a n t s " ( R o w e et a l . , 1 9 9 8 , p.120).  T o a c c e p t the notion of a singular C a n a d i a n culture s e r v e s to depoliticize the contestability of culture in C a n a d a in terms of c l a s s , g e n d e r , race/ethnicity, a n d other s o u r c e s of s o c i a l inequality ( J a c k s o n , 1994). T h e c a n o n i z a t i o n of athletes like Whitfield d u e to their s u c c e s s in the sports a r e n a a l s o potentially s e r v e s to legitimize the principle that winning is n e c e s s a r y to m a k e participation in sport meaningful. It n o r m a l i z e s a narrow definition of s u c c e s s that l e a v e s little room in sport for p e r s o n a l a c h i e v e m e n t or for constructing a healthy a n d active lifestyle. Further, the f o c u s o n winning h a s a  2  potential impact o n the e p i d e m i c of cheating in high p e r f o r m a n c e sport. S c h o l a r s h a v e explored the relationship between c h e a t i n g , in particular the u s e of performance e n h a n c i n g drugs, a n d the social a n d cultural p r e s s u r e to win (Burstyn, 1990; B e g l e y a n d Brant, 1999). Burstyn (1990, p. 4 6 ) cites K i d d ' s explanation of the play/win relationship, a n d the carding s y s t e m for C a n a d i a n athletes, w h e r e athletes receive a stipend b a s e d on their world ranking: " H o w m a n y C a n a d i a n s a r e in the top eight in the w o r l d in a n y f i e l d ? I m a g i n e m a k i n g t h e s a l a r i e s of C a n a d i a n l a w y e r s or j u d g e s d e p e n d e n t o n that criterion. But that's w h a t w e d o to o u r a t h l e t e s . W e tell t h e m , u n l e s s y o u w i n , y o u don't e a t " ( B u r s t y n , 1 9 9 0 , p. 4 6 ) .  T h e m e d i a ' s celebration of Whitfield's gold m e d a l a s a s y m b o l of sporting e x c e l l e n c e reinforces a nearly i m p o s s i b l e standard for others to follow a n d tacitly supports a s y s t e m that too often u s e s unethical m e a n s to a c h i e v e victory. B y exploring the s o c i a l construction of sports celebrity a n d sports m e d i a in C a n a d a a n d the resulting marketing opportunities that this construction affords, this r e s e a r c h will contribute to a better understanding of how m e d i a c o v e r a g e is constructed a n d the m a n n e r in w h i c h m e d i a narratives influence the culture of sport in C a n a d a a s well a s the culture of C a n a d a . T h i s study is informed by a n understanding of the central position of the m a s s m e d i a in contemporary society. T h e e m e r g e n c e of a m e d i a culture in which i m a g e s are constructed by m e d i a producers a n d s u b s e q u e n t l y c o n s u m e d a n d interpreted by a u d i e n c e s on a m a s s s c a l e h a s meant that m e d i a h a v e c o m e to play a central role in daily life, influencing beliefs a n d s o c i a l practices. W h i l e the full extent of m e d i a 'effects' is often d e b a t e d , the understanding that the m a s s  3  m e d i a saturates a n d influences e v e r y d a y life in c o n t e m p o r a r y culture is widely held (Kellner, 1 9 9 5 ; O ' S u l l i v a n , Dutton, & R a y n e r , 1998). R e s e a r c h e r s in m e d i a studies a n d cultural studies h a v e theorized the important role of the m e d i a in the p r o c e s s by which individuals construct their identities (Kellner, 1 9 9 5 ; G r o s s b e r g , Wartella, & Whitney, 1998). T h e m a s s m e d i a provide a u d i e n c e s with m a n y of the cultural materials a n d reference points from w h i c h they construct their perceptions of the s o c i a l world, including their s e n s e of c l a s s , r a c e , ethnicity, nationality, a n d g e n d e r . T h i s m e a n s m e d i a are implicated in h o w people produce a s e n s e of t h e m s e l v e s a n d of others, of both their p e r s o n a l a n d s o c i a l identities ( G r o s s b e r g et. a l , 1998). T h e r e f o r e , a clear understanding of the m e d i a , a n d how it is constructed, is important for understanding a n d e n g a g i n g the s o c i a l a n d cultural implications of m e d i a consumption. T h e r e s e a r c h reported in this thesis has two c o m p o n e n t s : 1) A n examination of the m e d i a p r o c e s s e s that led to the construction of Whitfield a s a hero a n d a celebrity a n d 2) a n exploration of how this c o v e r a g e w a s e m p l o y e d by corporate s p o n s o r s to help configure Whitfield a s a celebrity e n d o r s e r of their products. T h i s study r e c o g n i z e s the production/consumption relationship a n d the important role that a u d i e n c e s play in interpreting texts, but is c o n c e r n e d with i s s u e s of m e d i a construction, not interpretation. T h e impetus for this study w a s the privileged t h e m e s u s e d in the m e d i a construction of S i m o n Whitfield a n d their relationship to the marketing of his m e d i a i m a g e . T h e r e s e a r c h f o c u s e s o n how  4  sports m e d i a texts are socially constructed a n d the professional a n d c o m m e r c i a l p r o c e s s e s involved in this construction. S e v e r a l key questions are a d d r e s s e d : H o w w a s S i m o n Whitfield portrayed in the C a n a d i a n m e d i a after his gold m e d a l victory in S y d n e y ? H o w w a s his i m a g e constructed through the m e d i a ? W h y w a s his i m a g e created in this particular w a y ? W h a t e l e m e n t s of the S i m o n Whitfield story w e r e c o n s i d e r e d newsworthy by the C a n a d i a n p r e s s a n d w h y ? W h a t p e r s o n a l a n d professional d e c i s i o n s m a d e by journalists affected the resulting c o v e r a g e ? H o w did Whitfield's construction in the popular p r e s s affect his marketability a n d ability to attract s p o n s o r s h i p ? Did marketers a n d s p o n s o r s draw o n Whitfield's m e d i a i m a g e in their b u s i n e s s d e c i s i o n s ? T h e thesis is o r g a n i z e d into five chapters. Following this introduction, I provide a review of literature in C h a p t e r 2, outlining prior r e s e a r c h . In C h a p t e r 3, I explain the r e s e a r c h methodology u s e d in this study. I present the results of the t h e s i s in C h a p t e r 4 , a n d in C h a p t e r 5, I d i s c u s s the s o c i a l a n d cultural implications of the results a n d 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  p r o c e s s e s of m e a n i n g production in the m e d i a are not different in kind from those of life generally. M e a n i n g is m a d e by people. " T h e m e a n i n g s that h u m a n b e i n g s g i v e to e v e n t s a r e n e v e r naturally c o n t a i n e d within the e v e n t s t h e m s e l v e s . [That is to s a y ] real life d o e s not c o n t a i n or p r o p o s e its o w n integral, s i n g l e , a n d intrinsic m e a n i n g , w h i c h is t h e n neutrally t r a n s m i t t e d to u s t h r o u g h l a n g u a g e or other s y s t e m s of c o m m u n i c a t i o n . O n t h e c o n t r a r y , m e a n i n g is a s o c i a l p r o d u c t i o n . . . " ( G r u n e a u , 1 9 8 9 , p . 1 5 1 , d r a w i n g o n H a l l , 1 9 8 2 , p.67).  In recognition of the s o c i a l p r o c e s s of sports m e d i a production, r e s e a r c h is n e e d e d to e x a m i n e the p r o c e s s e s by w h i c h sports m e d i a c o v e r a g e is p r o d u c e d a n d the r e a s o n s that it is p r o d u c e d in particular w a y s . It is on this b a s i s that the study of the s o c i a l p r o c e s s e s underlying the various productions of S i m o n Whitfield a s a specific c a s e is a useful contribution to the current understanding of the relationship b e t w e e n m e d i a a n d sport celebrity. T h i s r e s e a r c h contributes to what A n d r e w s a n d J a c k s o n (2001, p. 9) refer to a s a "...call to critical interpretive a r m s " to u s e specific c a s e s a s a m e a n s to identify b r o a d e r conditions of power, position, a n d s o c i a l understanding. " W e a d v o c a t e f o c u s i n g o n a particular incident or celebrity a s the site for e x p l o r i n g the c o m p l e x interrelated a n d fluid c h a r a c t e r of p o w e r r e l a t i o n s a s t h e y a r e c o n s t i t u t e d a l o n g t h e a x e s of ability, c l a s s , g e n d e r , a n d nationality. E a c h cultural i n c i d e n t offers a u n i q u e site for u n d e r s t a n d i n g s p e c i f i c a r t i c u l a t i o n s of p o w e r . . . T h u s t h e s e a n a l y s e s t r a v e r s e the b o u n d a r i e s b e t w e e n lived e x p e r i e n c e , k n o w l e d g e p r o d u c t i o n , a n d political p r a c t i c e s " ( M c D o n a l d & Birrell, 1 9 9 9 , p . 2 8 4 ; cf., A n d r e w s & J a c k s o n , 2001).  G r u n e a u (1989) a n d A n d r e w s and J a c k s o n (2001) represent a tradition of r e s e a r c h that h a s e x a m i n e d the construction of sporting s p e c t a c l e s , including sports e v e n t s a n d celebrity athletes, a n d the s o c i a l , political a n d e c o n o m i c implications of t h e s e cultural forms. A n important part of this literature, a n d the f o c u s of my r e s e a r c h , is the m a n n e r in w h i c h t h e s e s p e c t a c l e s are reported by the m a s s m e d i a . T h e c o m m e r c i a l m a s s m e d i a are primarily in the b u s i n e s s of  7  d e v e l o p i n g a u d i e n c e s that c a n be sold to advertisers to create profit (Hackett & G r u n e a u , 2 0 0 0 ; L o w e s , 1999; R o w e , 1999; S p a r k s , 1992; Jhally, 1984). B y c o v e r i n g e v e n t s in w a y s that p r o d u c e insightful, informative, and/or entertaining n e w s , the m e d i a work to construct consistent a u d i e n c e s e g m e n t s that attract advertisers w i s h i n g to target the s e g m e n t s . It is mainly through this p r o c e s s of creating a n d selling a u d i e n c e s to advertisers that c o m m e r c i a l m e d i a organizations m a k e m o n e y . A s well, the effects of globalization a n d c o n v e r g e n c e a m o n g m e d i a corporations m e a n that a n increasingly s m a l l e r n u m b e r of m e d i a practitioners are responsible for a n increasingly larger proportion of the flow of mediated information (Bogart, 1993). With this in mind, s c h o l a r s h a v e called for a critical a n a l y s i s of h o w the b u s i n e s s of the m e d i a affects the m e d i a ' s s o c i a l role a s political w a t c h d o g s a n d information filters a s well a s the m e d i a ' s ability to provide a forum for s o c i a l d e b a t e while reflecting the diversity of c o m p e t i n g viewpoints (Hackett a n d G r u n e a u , 2000). In this s e n s e , critical a n a l y s i s of c o m m e r c i a l m a s s m e d i a is crucial in order to understand more clearly the implications of a n industry that is increasingly f o c u s e d o n a u d i e n c e construction a n d profit-maximization. A s Hackett a n d G r u n e a u (2000, p. 67) s u g g e s t : " W i d e s p r e a d c o n c e r n s a b o u t t h e c o n s u m e r i s t a n d b u s i n e s s o r i e n t a t i o n s of t h e c o m m e r c i a l m e d i a in North A m e r i c a n g o b a c k d e c a d e s . In the p a s t 15 y e a r s , t h o u g h , the a c c e l e r a t i n g p r o c e s s e s of c o n c e n t r a t i o n , profit m a x i m i z a t i o n , m u l t i m e d i a o w n e r s h i p , a n d the formation of c o n g l o m e r a t e s h a s a r g u a b l y r e i n f o r c e d - a n d m a y w e l l h a v e d e e p e n e d - the c o r p o r a t e m e d i a ' s structural b i a s e s a n d blind s p o t s . "  It is within this cultural frame of the contemporary m e d i a that i s s u e s of m e d i a c o v e r a g e are important. Hackett a n d G r u n e a u (2000) a r g u e that a critical a n a l y s i s of m e d i a production should go beyond the recognition of the m a s s m e d i a a s simply cultural filters, a n d e x a m i n e the p r o c e s s e s , structures, a n d  8  interests that affect the final c o v e r a g e , b e c a u s e the m e d i a provide a m e a n s for individuals to acquire and debate the information and cultural capital required for active a n d meaningful citizenship. Despite the central role of b r o a d c a s t m e d i a in this p r o c e s s print m e d i a in g e n e r a l , and n e w s p a p e r s in particular, are still important v e h i c l e s for newsgathering, producing, and d i s s e m i n a t i n g , a point noted by Hackett and G r u n e a u (2000). " ( N e w s p a p e r s ) a r e still i m m e n s e l y important v e h i c l e s for d e m o c r a t i c c o m m u n i c a t i o n . A t p r e s e n t , n o 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 p o s s i b i l i t i e s for a c c e s s i b i l i t y , in-depth a n a l y s i s , potential diversity of v i e w p o i n t s , a n d s u s t a i n e d reflection o n important political a n d e c o n o m i c i s s u e s . T h a t is w h y w e c a n ' t i g n o r e t h e m or t a k e t h e m for g r a n t e d . " ( H a c k e t t a n d G r u n e a u , 2000,  p.12)  M e d i a c o v e r a g e in its condition a s a manufactured product is related to the w a y that m e d i a producers interpret, o r g a n i z e and m a k e s e n s e of the world. In this s e n s e , the m a s s m e d i a are tied to ideology. Lull (1995, p. 6) defines ideology as: " o r g a n i z e d t h o u g h t - c o m p l e m e n t s of v a l u e s , orientations, a n d p r e d i s p o s i t i o n s forming ideational perspectives e x p r e s s e d through technologically mediated and interpersonal communication."  I u s e ideology in the tradition of Marxist critiques of m a s s m e d i a production, w h e r e s e l e c t e d w a y s of thinking - dominant ideologies - are reinforced by t h o s e people in the society that hold political and e c o n o m i c power, a p o w e r that s t e m s from s u c h p e o p l e ' s ability to publicly e x p r e s s their preferred s y s t e m s of i d e a s (Lull, 1 9 9 5 ; B e r g e r 1998). In this framework, the m a s s m e d i a c a n be c o n s i d e r e d a tool u s e d by the politically and e c o n o m i c a l l y powerful to e x p r e s s , through the s o c i a l construction of m e d i a texts, v a l u e s that are consistent with the dominant ideology of the culture (Lull, 1995). In turn, m e d i a v a l u e s a n d p e r s p e c t i v e s c o m e  9  to influence culture more generally. In other w o r d s , the Marxist tradition s u g g e s t s that individuals within the m e d i a culture do not formulate their i d e a s or construct their identities independent of influence from the m a s s m e d i a , a n d that k n o w l e d g e , like the production of m e d i a texts, is the result of a s e r i e s of social p r o c e s s e s (Berger, 1998). In this s e n s e , the m a n n e r in w h i c h m e d i a are p r o d u c e d , a n d the resulting texts that a u d i e n c e s c o n s u m e , c a n potentially influence s o c i a l reality. C l o s e l y linked to ideology is G r a m s c i ' s (1971) c o n c e p t of h e g e m o n y , w h i c h d e s c r i b e s p o w e r a n d domination existing in a combination of force a n d c o n s e n t (Jhally, 1989). H e g e m o n y is a subtle framing of ideological p o w e r in that it is not a n overt attempt to stimulate thought or action, but rather repositions o p p o s i n g definitions of reality within the s t a n d a r d s laid out by the ruling c l a s s (Lull, 1995). J h a l l y (1989, p. 74) paraphrasing G r a m s c i , d e s c r i b e s the p r o c e s s of h e g e m o n y a s "one of negotiation, c o m p r o m i s e , a n d struggle in w h i c h the ruling c l a s s , or more precisely, the ruling bloc, g i v e s c o n c e s s i o n s in o n e a r e a s o that it m a y r e c e i v e t h e m in another." S i m i l a r to ideology, h e g e m o n y is important for the study of m e d i a production b e c a u s e it theorizes the ability of the m e d i a to legitimize a n d normalize s o c i a l structures, a s well a s provides a c o n c e p t u a l b a s i s from w h i c h to a n a l y z e how individuals working in the m e d i a e n d up negotiating their o w n points of view a n d s o c i a l understandings. A critical a n a l y s i s of m e d i a texts a n d m e d i a production, s u c h a s the c o v e r a g e of Whitfield, c a n yield insight into the legitimization of h e g e m o n i c social relations in C a n a d i a n sport.  10  In this r e s e a r c h , i s s u e s of ideology a n d h e g e m o n y are e x a m i n e d through a n exploration of various a s p e c t s of c o m m e r c i a l l y p r o d u c e d m e d i a including the role of marketing a n d advertising, a n d of m e d i a self-promotion in m e d i a production. C o m m e r c i a l m e d i a are linked with marketing a n d advertising a s part of a promotional chain (Wernick, 1991). T h i s chain links t h e s e different types of m e d i a in a n intertextual matrix w h e r e i n m e d i a contents a n d advertising b e c o m e nearly indistinguishable (Wernick, 1991). W e r n i c k (1991) d u b b e d this chain the "Vortex of publicity." Intertextuality refers to the c o n s c i o u s or u n c o n s c i o u s u s e of material from previous texts to create n e w texts (Berger, 1998). T h e result is a reflexive notion of the m a s s m e d i a w h e r e e a c h mediated text is d e v e l o p e d o n the b a s i s of previous texts, a n d aids in the d e v e l o p m e n t of s u b s e q u e n t texts in a n o n g o i n g p r o c e s s . T h i s intertextual framework of m e d i a applies not just to the creation of texts but to the creation a n d m a i n t e n a n c e of ideology a n d h e g e m o n y : " T e l e v i s i o n m a y b e the m o s t o b v i o u s c o n v e y e r of d o m i n a n t i d e o l o g y , but all m a s s media including less recognized forms s u c h a s postage stamps, store w i n d o w s , automobile b u m p e r stickers, tee-shirts, e v e n m u s e u m s and restaurant m e n u s , c a r r y m e s s a g e s that s e r v e the interests of s o m e a n d not o t h e r s " (Lull, 1 9 9 5 , p.9).  T h e c o n c e p t of intertextuality is c o m p l i m e n t e d by articulation, Hall's (1985) notion that m e d i a texts, a n d their influence on identity a n d s o c i a l practices, are 'relatively a n c h o r e d ' ( M c K a y , 1995) within c o m p l e x s o c i a l a n d historical relations. In other w o r d s , the m e a n i n g or signification of texts is g r o u n d e d in a n d linked to (articulated with) a particular set of historical conditions that are e x p r e s s e d within t h e s e m e a n i n g s a n d that help to sustain t h e s e m e a n i n g s by supporting s o m e interpretations o v e r others. Hall (1985, p. 193) a r g u e d 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  m e d i a a n d sport a s a n inter-related industrial c o m p l e x , or what he called the 'sport/media c o m p l e x . ' J h a l l y ' s (1984) framework w a s underpinned by the notion of mediated sport a s a s p e c t a c l e of a c c u m u l a t i o n . Jhally framed the creation of sports m e d i a s p e c t a c l e s a s a w a y not just of creating advertising time, but a l s o of delivering particular a u d i e n c e s (primarily male) to s p o n s o r s . T h e o w n e r s a n d p r o d u c e r s of sports m e d i a work to create content that conforms to the dominant s o c i a l c o d e of sport in w h i c h m e n feature a s the major producers a n d c o n s u m e r s of sports b e c a u s e this is profitable a n d m a x i m i z e s capital a c c u m u l a t i o n . A c c o r d i n g to Jhally, this e c o n o m i c importance of television a u d i e n c e s within the s p o r t s / m e d i a c o m p l e x is reflected in the willingness of producers a n d m a n a g e r s to c h a n g e the rules, times a n d / o r locations of sports events in order to i n c r e a s e television viewership a n d meet i n c r e a s e d profit d e m a n d s . R o w e (1999), in particular, drew on a n d ultimately reformulated J h a l l y ' s framework into the ' m e d i a sports cultural c o m p l e x ' highlighting the primacy of cultural s y m b o l s in sport a n d the two-way relationship b e t w e e n the sports m e d i a a n d the larger culture in w h i c h it resides. F o r R o w e (2000), the m a n n e r in w h i c h the m e d i a h a v e r e s h a p e d sport fundamentally alters, a n d ultimately u n d e r m i n e s , a critical understanding of sport a s 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 a n d sport c a n no l o n g e r b e s e e n a s s e p a r a t e s o c i o - c u l t u r a l entities, it m a y a l s o b e a c c e p t e d 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 h a v e inadvertently u n d e r m i n e d its e c o n o m i c , s o c i a l a n d cultural integrity" ( R o w e , 2 0 0 0 , 3 4 7 ) .  R a t h e r than simply lamenting the e v e r - c l o s e r relationship b e t w e e n m e d i a a n d sport, however, R o w e (2000) a d v o c a t e d monitoring a n d regulating the w a y s  13  in w h i c h i n c r e a s e d m e d i a control of sport might d a m a g e its integrity. H e a l s o called for a critical a n a l y s i s of the w a y s in which sport mythologies are e m p l o y e d in m e d i a c o v e r a g e through metaphor and a s ideology. T h e s e t y p e s of a n a l y s e s h a v e s e r v e d a s departure points for critical r e s e a r c h into sports m e d i a , including studies f o c u s e d o n sports m e d i a content a n d m e s s a g e s about celebrity athletes ( A n d r e w s and J a c k s o n , 2 0 0 1 ; V a n d e B e r g , 1 9 9 8 ; A n d r e w s , 1996; M c D o n a l d , 1996). M o s t sports m e d i a studies h a v e b e e n narrative and text b a s e d , h o w e v e r s o m e h a v e a l s o e x a m i n e d a u d i e n c e s a n d the m a n n e r in w h i c h they m a k e s e n s e of the sports m e d i a texts that they c o n s u m e (Wilson a n d S p a r k s , 1996, 1999). O n e of the least r e s e a r c h e d a r e a s is that of sports m e d i a production, specifically how professional a n d p e r s o n a l practices of m e d i a and marketing practitioners affect the creation of m e d i a narratives and texts. In the a r e a of sports m e d i a production, three studies h a v e b e e n s e m i n a l for this t h e s i s , a n d are briefly introduced here. M a c N e i l l (1996), G r u n e a u (1989), a n d S p a r k s (1992), h a v e argued for an empirical understanding of the s o c i a l , political, e c o n o m i c , and regulatory factors that s h a p e the creation of sports s p e c t a c l e s a n d the m e d i a c o v e r a g e of t h e s e events. M a c N e i l l (1996) c o n d u c t e d a n ethnography of C T V network c o v e r a g e of the m e n ' s h o c k e y tournament at the 1988 C a l g a r y O l y m p i c W i n t e r G a m e s . H e r methodology, similar to the o n e u s e d in this study, u s e d two kinds of e v i d e n c e . First, s h e c o n d u c t e d a systematic a n a l y s i s of r e s e a r c h o n O l y m p i c sport, m e d i a and corporate s p o n s o r s - what s h e calls the "Olympic-media-advertising n e x u s "  14  (p. 105) - a n d e v a l u a t e d their interaction a n d relationship a n d h o w t h e s e relate to the traditional construction of m e a n i n g s within O l y m p i c sports m e d i a c o v e r a g e . S e c o n d , s h e w o r k e d behind the s c e n e s at the 1988 O l y m p i c s with m e m b e r s of the C T V d o m e s t i c h o c k e y c r e w a n d , through participant o b s e r v a t i o n s a n d interviews with the crew, w a s a b l e to catalogue a multitude of factors including inc r e w a n d intercrew relations, work routines, d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g , a n d struggles a n d negotiations o v e r production practices a n d representational c o d e s . H e r results raised s e v e r a l key points. S h e d e s c r i b e d the m a n n e r in w h i c h ice h o c k e y w a s televised a s d e p e n d e n t o n a p r o c e s s of s o c i a l interactions a m o n g the C T V production c r e w a n d s u g g e s t e d that the C T V staff e m p l o y e d historical perceptions a n d understandings of h o c k e y a n d its cultural r e l e v a n c e that helped to s h a p e their c o v e r a g e a n d televised storylines. M a c N e i l l a r g u e d that C T V ' s h o c k e y c o v e r a g e w a s part of a larger p r o c e s s in w h i c h o n e particular group of C a n a d i a n s r e m a d e their culture a n d positioned it a s the dominant culture, a n d similarly, in w h i c h cultural significance w a s a c c o r d e d to certain dominant d i s c o u r s e s during the production p r o c e s s . M o s t notably, M a c N e i l l (p. 104) identified "national h e r o e s , competitive individualism in t e a m sports, notions of rugged athletic masculinity, myths of nationhood, a n d the c o n s u m e r h e g e m o n y of North A m e r i c a n society" a s prevalent in C T V ' s c o v e r a g e . M a c N e i l l e m p l o y e d Jhally's notion of the s p e c t a c l e of a c c u m u l a t i o n to a r g u e that t h e s e m e a n i n g s w e r e incorporated into the televised production of the O l y m p i c h o c k e y tournament to aid C T V ' s efforts in building a traditionally m a l e a u d i e n c e that they could sell to s p o n s o r s . S h e a l s o introduced the culturally legitimating function of  15  sporting s p e c t a c l e s in terms of reproducing established m e a n i n g s a n d cultural forms particularly a s a by-product of c h o i c e s m a d e by b r o a d c a s t e r s . In this w a y , C T V ' s h o c k e y c o v e r a g e both reproduced historical u n d e r s t a n d i n g s of C a n a d i a n h o c k e y a n d reflected t h e s e m e a n i n g s in their b r o a d c a s t s . G r u n e a u (1989) c o n d u c t e d a similarly g r o u n d b r e a k i n g study of sport m e d i a production in his examination of the C a n a d i a n B r o a d c a s t i n g C o r p o r a t i o n ' s ( C B C ) television c o v e r a g e of a World C u p downhill skiing event in Whistler, B C . H e too performed a preliminary a n a l y s i s of the political e c o n o m y of the C a n a d i a n s p o r t s / m e d i a c o m p l e x a n d c o m b i n e d t h e s e results with e t h n o g r a p h i c r e s e a r c h into the creation of a commercially attractive skiing s p e c t a c l e . G r u n e a u found that while s o m e m e s s a g e s in the C B C ' s c o v e r a g e had a n " o p e n - e n d e d character," s o m e a c c o u n t s of the event w e r e a c c o r d e d more significance than others. T h i s w a s c o n s i d e r e d to be the result of the routine a c c e p t a n c e a m o n g C B C staff of the ".. .making of g o o d television" a n d not the result of political m a n e u v e r i n g a s s o m e h a d s u g g e s t e d previously (p. 152). G r u n e a u e x a m i n e d the elective affinity - 'the w a y in w h i c h particular beliefs a n d material interests s e e k e a c h other out' (p. 143) - that d e v e l o p e d b e t w e e n athletes, event o r g a n i z e r s , s p o n s o r s , a n d the television production staff. H e found that the various groups involved in the production of the event held a c o m m o n s e n s e of p u r p o s e a n d that c h o i c e s m a d e by m e m b e r s of the production t e a m reflected the affinity that they s h a r e d with other s t a k e h o l d e r s . G r u n e a u a r g u e d that the elective affinity a m o n g t h e s e s t a k e h o l d e r s a n d the defining characteristics of "good television" resulted in c o v e r a g e that supported a n  16  understanding of contemporary sport a s o p e n a n d meritocratic, a n d a s d e s i g n e d to further the c a r e e r s of individuals a n d create investment. A c c o r d i n g to G r u n e a u , t h e s e types of television sports p r o g r a m s play a n indirect role in normalizing a dominant s o c i a l definition of sport that is consistent with that of a capitalist c o n s u m e r culture. G r u n e a u a d d e d that the p o l y s e m i c nature of m e d i a i m a g e s , w h e r e a u d i e n c e s interpret the texts that they c o n s u m e , m e a n s that television producers work diligently a n d deliberately to "position v i e w e r s in particular w a y s a n d gain credibility for their (the producers') o w n viewpoints" (p.152). In this w a y , G r u n e a u ' s a n d M a c N e i l l ' s findings both support the argument that the mediated sports s p e c t a c l e a i d e s in capital a c c u m u l a t i o n a n d cultural legitimation. S p a r k s (1992) investigated the political e c o n o m y of c o m m e r c i a l television production by e x a m i n i n g the role of the state a n d the role of market conditions in the creation of T h e S p o r t s Network ( T S N ) , a C a n a d i a n c a b l e sports network l i c e n s e d in the early 1980's. Similar to M a c N e i l l a n d G r u n e a u , S p a r k s explored the context of the production p r o c e s s , in this c a s e f o c u s i n g o n the regulatory function of the C a n a d i a n Radio-television a n d T e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s C o m m i s s i o n ( C R T C ) , a n d then u s e d this context to d i s c u s s the implications of T S N ' s overtly m a s c u l i n e marketing formula. H e a l s o e x a m i n e d T S N ' s initial b u s i n e s s plan a n d e x a m i n e d the m a n n e r in w h i c h T S N m a n e u v e r e d through the political, e c o n o m i c , a n d regulatory b o u n d a r i e s in establishing their network. S p a r k s ' study has important implications for a c a s e study of S i m o n Whitfield. Particularly relevant is the c o n c e p t of the a u d i e n c e c o m m o d i t y , a term  17  that d e s c r i b e s h o w the television industry stratifies a u d i e n c e s b a s e d o n their viewing c h o i c e s a n d s o c i a l a n d psychological characteristics, then a s s i g n s t h e m monetary v a l u e s a n d sells t h e s e a u d i e n c e groups to s p o n s o r s a n d advertisers in c o m m o d i t y form. S p a r k s a r g u e d that T S N ' s commitment to (re)producing a traditionally g e n d e r e d , predominantly male a u d i e n c e c o m m o d i t y s t e m m e d from uncertainty a s to how to create a s u c c e s s f u l new sports network, a n d that in the f a c e of uncertainty, T S N resorted to a proven market formula. T h u s , the network's a u d i e n c e c o m m o d i t y n e c e s s a r i l y resulted in production practices that aided in the continued reproduction of this commodity. B e y o n d t h e s e three key studies, there is a l s o a n a b u n d a n c e of textual a n a l y s i s r e s e a r c h that e x p a n d s current understandings of the w a y that s p e c t a c l e s of legitimation a n d accumulation are presented in sport m e d i a . F o r e x a m p l e , in M e s s n e r , Dunbar, & Hunt's  (2000) textual a n a l y s i s of televised  sports e v e n t s most often w a t c h e d by b o y s , ten recurrent a n d dominant t h e m e s c o n c e r n i n g g e n d e r , race, a g g r e s s i o n , v i o l e n c e , militarism, a n d c o m m e r c i a l i s m w e r e identified. T h r o u g h the a n a l y s i s of t h e s e t h e m e s , M e s s n e r et a l . d e v e l o p e d the T e l e v i s e d S p o r t s M a n h o o d F o r m u l a , a group of dominant m a s c u l i n e m e a n i n g s that aid in aligning the s o c i a l a n d c o n s u m e r habits of b o y s a n d y o u n g m e n with the interests of the c o m m e r c i a l sports m e d i a . M e s s n e r et a l . d e s c r i b e d the T e l e v i s e d S p o r t s M a n h o o d F o r m u l a a s : "[a] m a s t e r i d e o l o g i c a l narrative that is w e l l s u i t e d to d i s c i p l i n e b o y s ' b o d i e s , m i n d s , a n d c o n s u m p t i o n c h o i c e s in w a y s that c o n s t r u c t a m a s c u l i n i t y that is c o n s i s t e n t with the e n t r e n c h e d interests of the s p o r t s / m e d i a / c o m m e r c i a l c o m p l e x " ( M e s s n e r et a l . , 2 0 0 0 , p. 3 8 0 ) .  18  M e s s n e r et a l . s u g g e s t e d that the T e l e v i s e d S p o r t s M a n h o o d F o r m u l a s e r v e s to create portrayals of g e n d e r norms that are c o m m e r c i a l l y viable a s well a s to influence c o n s u m p t i o n patterns a m o n g y o u n g male a u d i e n c e s . T h e T e l e v i s e d S p o r t s M a n h o o d F o r m u l a is consistent with the s p e c t a c l e f r a m e w o r k s in that it e n c o m p a s s e s the dual roles of accumulation - p a c k a g i n g a u d i e n c e s of y o u n g m a l e s that c a n be sold to advertisers interested in s u c h target markets a n d of legitimation - the normalization of m a s c u l i n e v a l u e s a n d b e h a v i o u r s . M e s s n e r et a l . a l s o m a d e an important link b e t w e e n the construction a n d positioning of sports m e d i a , in this c a s e televisual m e d i a , with dominant cultural norms. T h i s link is relevant to the Whitfield c a s e in that it helps to c o m b i n e a critical a n a l y s i s of sports m e d i a production with a n understanding of the m a n n e r in w h i c h t h e s e constructions potentially influence c o n s u m e r culture a n d consumption choices. Similar studies have u s e d M i c h a e l J o r d a n a s a c a s e e x a m p l e for critical a n a l y s i s of sports m e d i a c o v e r a g e a s well a s sport marketing a n d celebrity advertising. A n d r e w s (1996) a n a l y z e d portrayals of J o r d a n in both the popular p r e s s a n d marketing a n d advertising, focusing on representations of race in order to identify a n d interpret dominant racial d i s c o u r s e s in the c o m p l e x s o c i a l a n d political climate of the United States in the mid 1990's. A n d r e w s a r g u e d that J o r d a n ' s i m a g e w a s constructed and manipulated in a n attempt to t r a n s c e n d racial stereotypes a n d a p p e a l to a broader a u d i e n c e . In this s e n s e , J o r d a n w a s presented a s a non-stereotypical black m a n , w h i c h a c c o r d i n g to A n d r e w s , a l s o m a d e J o r d a n a non-threatening black w h o s e "racial t r a n s c e n d e n c e " 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).  20  K e l l n e r (1996) argued that M i c h a e l J o r d a n ' s s u c c e s s a s a celebrity product e n d o r s e r represents a n intertextual relationship b e t w e e n m e d i a production, the construction of sport s p e c t a c l e s a n d s p e c t a c u l a r personalities, a n d their promotion a n d marketing through the p r o c e s s of advertising. Kellner s u g g e s t e d that: " . . . M i c h a e l J o r d a n r e p r e s e n t s a highly s u c c e s s f u l m a r k e t i n g p h e n o m e n o n a n d c a l l s attention to the c o n s t r u c t i o n of the m e d i a s p e c t a c l e by c o r p o r a t i o n s , p u b l i c relations, a n d the t e c h n i q u e s of a d v e r t i s i n g . J u s t a s J o r d a n m a r k e t e d N i k e , W h e a t i e s , a n d other p r o d u c t s , s o did t h e s e c o r p o r a t i o n s h e l p p r o d u c e t h e J o r d a n i m a g e a n d s p e c t a c l e " ( 1 9 9 6 , p. 4 6 1 ) .  In this s e n s e , the creation of J o r d a n ' s i m a g e a n d a s s o c i a t e d cultural m e a n i n g s through m e d i a production a n d c o v e r a g e w a s incorporated a n d perpetuated by his role in marketing a n d endorsing c o n s u m e r products, a s e r i e s of activities that all took p l a c e within the s a m e promotional c h a i n . Finally, s e v e r a l recent studies h a v e e x a m i n e d g e n d e r in sports m e d i a texts a n d explored the resulting social implications of various g e n d e r representations. F o r e x a m p l e , G o o d m a n , D u k e , a n d S u t h e r l a n d (2002) u s e d a combination of s e m i o l o g i c a l a n d content a n a l y s i s to e x a m i n e the g e n d e r e d portrayals of male a n d f e m a l e athletes in U . S . advertising aired during the S y d n e y O l y m p i c s . G r o u n d e d in a J u n g i a n understanding of archetypal h e r o i s m , their study found that both male a n d f e m a l e athletes w e r e portrayed in a variety of advertisements a s Warriors, a n extension of the athlete-as-hero construction. At the s a m e time, G o o d m a n et a l . found e v i d e n c e of g e n d e r stereotyping, namely that heroic f e m a l e athletes w e r e s o m e t i m e s s e x u a l i z e d , w h e r e a s m a l e s w e r e not a n d that m a l e hero athletes w e r e celebrated a s c o n q u e r o r s w h o v a n q u i s h e d their  21  o p p o n e n t s , w h e r e a s f e m a l e s w e r e more often portrayed a s g r a c i o u s a n d graceful victors. S c h e l l a n d R o d r i g u e z ' s (2001) textual a n a l y s i s of C B S ' c o v e r a g e of the 1996 P a r a l y m p i c s found that m e d i a representation of P a r a l y m p i a n H o p e L e w e l l e n u n d e r m i n e d the possibilities of L e w e l l e n subverting stereotypical u n d e r s t a n d i n g s of g e n d e r a n d disability by portraying her in ableist w a y s . Wright a n d C l a r k e ' s (1999) a n a l y s i s of m e d i a production of A u s t r a l i a n W o m e n ' s R u g b y U n i o n s u g g e s t e d that overt a n d tacit d i s c o u r s e s in m e d i a production t e n d e d to reinforce h e t e r o s e x u a l beliefs about femininity a n d sport a n d contribute to the invisibility of sporting e x p e r i e n c e s of l e s b i a n s . Finally, K e n n e d y ' s (2001) textual a n a l y s i s of televised c o v e r a g e of w o m e n ' s tennis c o n c l u d e d that the g e n d e r e d nature of f e m a l e sports c o v e r a g e resulted in physically active femininity being c h a r a c t e r i z e d by perpetual a d o l e s c e n c e , a s a n activity to be relinquished in w o m a n h o o d , a n d subject to dominant ideals of heterosexuality. W h e n c o m b i n e d with a n understanding of the m e d i a ' s influence in identity construction ( G r o s s b e r g et a l . , 1998) a n d the construction of dominant ideology (Lull, 1995), t h e s e studies are s e e n to a c c o u n t for s o m e of the various w a y s in w h i c h sports m e d i a texts reflect or potentially (re)produce h e g e m o n i c s o c i a l relations. T h e a n a l y s i s of J o r d a n d i s c u s s e d a b o v e a l s o d r a w s o n a body of literature that e x a m i n e s sports celebrity, its constructions a n d politics, a s a site w h e r e the m a s s m e d i a play a n important role. T h e implications of the celebrity culture are w i d e s p r e a d . C o n t e m p o r a r y notions of celebrity represent the 'twinned d i s c o u r s e s of late modernity: neo-liberal d e m o c r a c y a n d c o n s u m e r capitalism' ( M a r s h a l l ,  22  1 9 9 7 , p. 1; c f . ; A n d r e w s & J a c k s o n , 2001). M o r e importantly, through the p e r v a s i v e n e s s of the mediated e x p e r i e n c e , celebrities h a v e real effects o n the m a n n e r in w h i c h people negotiate the e x p e r i e n c e s of their lives despite the fact that w e most likely never truly know t h e m (Andrews & J a c k s o n , 2001). Ultimately, "the celebrity is a p e r s o n w h o is known for his (sic) w e l l - k n o w n e s s " (Boorstin, 1992, p. 57). With regard to sports celebrities, V a n d e B e r g (1998), T u d o r (1997), a n d L i n e s (2001) h a v e provided textual a n a l y s e s of athletic h e r o e s a n d the w a y s in w h i c h they are f r a m e d in the m a s s m e d i a a s celebrities. V a n d e B e r g traced the origin of the word hero to the G r e e k word heroes  referring to a p e r s o n duly noted  for exceptional c o u r a g e , outstanding a c c o m p l i s h m e n t s , or superior qualities. In this s e n s e , the hero is a n archetype, a n d h e r o e s a c r o s s cultures s h a r e c o m m o n traits a n d characteristics ( C a m p b e l l , 1968). At the s a m e time, V a n d e B e r g problematized the definition a n d distinction of h e r o i s m by s u g g e s t i n g that the qualities of a hero or heroic actions are not consistent, a n d that c o n t e m p o r a r y h e r o e s perform acts of m u c h l e s s significance than traditional or mythological o n e s . T o define contemporary h e r o i s m , V a n d e B e r g , citing Boorstin (1978), classified the hero a s a h u m a n being w h o h a s s h o w n g r e a t n e s s in a n a c h i e v e m e n t that h a s stood the test of time. In r e s p o n s e to the ambiguities of contemporary h e r o i s m , V a n d e B e r g e m p h a s i z e d the role of celebration a n d m e d i a c o v e r a g e a s crucial in constructing a hero a n d then s e p a r a t e d sporting h e r o e s into five c a t e g o r i e s : the traditional, the m o d e r n , the antihero, the hero a s commodity, a n d the p o s t m o d e r n . In her  23  a n a l y s i s of e a c h category, represented by a different celebrity athlete, s h e a c k n o w l e d g e d the role of the m e d i a in representing, a n d reinforcing, dominant cultural t h e m e s . V a n d e B e r g c o n c l u d e d that "...the m a s s m e d i a s e r v e a s the primary v e h i c l e s through w h i c h w e learn of the extraordinary a c c o m p l i s h m e n t s , c o u r a g e , a n d d e e d s of cultural h e r o e s a n d the faults a n d ignominious d e e d s of villains a n d fools" (p. 152). T u d o r (1997) differentiated athletes a s h e r o e s , stars, a n d / o r celebrities, three overlapping yet distinct categories that are useful for a n a l y z i n g the m a n n e r in w h i c h the m a s s m e d i a attaches i m a g e s a n d v a l u e s to athletes. T u d o r ' s athlete a s hero is understood through archetypal notions of h e r o i s m , often g r o u n d e d in mythology, a n d characterized by the hero's fabulous victory w h i c h is s h a r e d with others. T h e athlete a s star is characterized by the combination of a n outstanding athletic p e r f o r m a n c e a n d a c c o m p a n y i n g m e d i a attention. T h e athlete a s celebrity c o m e s with the negative connotation of lacking actual athletic a c h i e v e m e n t a n d relying almost exclusively o n the m e d i a for his/her celebrity i m a g e . T h r o u g h this framework, T u d o r e x a m i n e d the dominant cultural d i s c o u r s e s of three athletes, R y n e S a n d b e r g , J i m M c M a h o n , a n d M i c h a e l J o r d a n , treating t h e m e a c h a s m e d i a texts. H e r a n a l y s i s s u g g e s t e d that the mediated i m a g e s of all three athletes w e r e b a s e d , in part, on h e g e m o n i c d i s c o u r s e s of r a c e , g e n d e r , a n d social c l a s s . C l e a r l y , this a n a l y s i s has implications for the legitimating role of sports m e d i a production. L i n e s (2001) a n a l y z e d the celebrity athlete p h e n o m e n o n a s it relates to youth a n d critically e x a m i n e d how m e d i a c o v e r a g e is implicated in the positioning  24  of sports h e r o e s a s contemporary role m o d e l s . S h e a r g u e d that the m e d i a c o v e r a g e f o c u s o n s c a n d a l s a n d s e n s a t i o n a l i s m c r e a t e s tension about the characteristics of the ideal sports hero. S h e a l s o s u g g e s t e d that representations of heroic athletes are often g e n d e r e d , wherein celebrity male athletes are more often presented a s worthy m o d e l s for youth. L i n e s (2001) a l s o pointed out that the p o l y s e m i c nature of sports m e d i a texts m e a n s that the m a n n e r in w h i c h the m e d i a and the public produce and understand sports celebrities a n d h e r o e s d o e s not n e c e s s a r i l y reflect the interpretations of sports f a n s . T h e r e h a v e a l s o b e e n studies that f o c u s e d on C a n a d i a n celebrity athletes. J a c k s o n (1994, 1998, 2001) e x a m i n e d the w a y s in w h i c h m e d i a c o v e r a g e of C a n a d i a n athletic h e r o e s h a s b e e n influenced by, a n d contributed to, a crisis of C a n a d i a n national identity. J a c k s o n ' s (1994) r e s e a r c h into the m e d i a d i s c o u r s e s surrounding the trading of h o c k e y star W a y n e G r e t z k y to the L o s A n g e l e s K i n g s f o c u s e d on the m e d i a ' s role in highlighting political, e c o n o m i c , and cultural factors that fit the d i s c o u r s e of crisis. His a n a l y s i s (1998) of discredited C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c sprinter B e n J o h n s o n e x a m i n e d how J o h n s o n ' s racial identity w a s repositioned within the m e d i a after he tested positive for a b a n n e d s u b s t a n c e . B y c h a n g i n g J o h n s o n from a C a n a d i a n to a J a m a i c a n - C a n a d i a n , J a c k s o n a r g u e d that the m a s s m e d i a contributed to a crisis of C a n a d i a n national identity and attempted to d i s t a n c e J o h n s o n a s a national s y m b o l of sporting e x c e l l e n c e . W o n g and T r u m p e r (2002) built on J a c k s o n ' s work by c o m p a r i n g a n d contrasting G r e t z k y a n d C h i l e a n futbol star Ivan Z a m o r a n o , a n a n a l y s i s that they situated within contemporary notions of globalization, transnationality, and  25  deterritorialization. T h e y a r g u e d that the representations of G r e t z k y a n d Z a m o r a n o a s national s y m b o l s in C a n a d a a n d C h i l e respectively, are ' a m b i g u o u s , p a r a d o x i c a l , and contradictory' (p. 168) given that t h e s e two celebrity athletes p o s s e s s transnational citizenships e n a b l e d by the conditions of increasingly g l o b a l i z e d e c o n o m i c s .  2.3 Celebrity Endorsement and Consumer Engineering T h e u s e of celebrity product e n d o r s e r s a s a m e a n s of supporting brand imagery is a c o m m o n practice in contemporary marketing a n d corporate c o m m u n i c a t i o n s ( E r d o g a n , 1999). R e s e a r c h h a s e x a m i n e d the theoretical a n d practical a s p e c t s of the celebrity e n d o r s e m e n t p r o c e s s a n d a variety of theories a n d m o d e l s h a v e b e e n p r o p o s e d to help a c c o u n t for the effects of celebrity e n d o r s e r s . M c C r a c k e n ' s (1989) ' m e a n i n g transfer m o d e l ' is o n e of t h e s e . M c C r a c k e n posits that the celebrity c o m e s to the e n d o r s e m e n t p r o c e s s with an already (at least partially) d e v e l o p e d identity a n d framework of cultural m e a n i n g s . M c C r a c k e n defines the celebrity e n d o r s e r a s " . . . a n y individual w h o enjoys public recognition a n d w h o u s e s this recognition o n behalf of a c o n s u m e r g o o d by a p p e a r i n g with it in a n advertisement" (P.310). M c C r a c k e n intended his m o d e l to o v e r c o m e s h o r t c o m i n g s he had found in two prominent prior m o d e l s of the celebrity e n d o r s e m e n t p r o c e s s . T h e s e two m o d e l s are the s o u r c e credibility model a n d the s o u r c e attractiveness m o d e l . T h e s o u r c e credibility m o d e l (Hovland & W e i s s , 1 9 5 1 , H o v l a n d , J a n i s & K e l l e y , 1953) h a s its roots in s o c i a l p s y c h o l o g y a n d holds that a m e s s a g e ' s effectiveness is reliant on perceptions of expertise a n d trust in the s o u r c e . E x p e r t i s e is the ability  26  of the s o u r c e (celebrity endorser) to m a k e valid c l a i m s a n d trustworthiness is the willingness, or likelihood, of the s o u r c e to m a k e c l a i m s that are true. T h e s e c o n d m o d e l is M c G u i r e ' s (1985) s o u r c e attractiveness m o d e l that posits that the effectiveness of a m e s s a g e is d e p e n d e n t on familiarity, likability, a n d / o r similarity of the product endorser. Familiarity is k n o w l e d g e of the s o u r c e , likability is affection for the s o u r c e , a n d similarity is a p e r c e i v e d r e s e m b l a n c e b e t w e e n the s o u r c e of the m e s s a g e a n d its receiver. W h i l e a c k n o w l e d g i n g the fact that both of t h e s e m o d e l s h a v e b e e n confirmed empirically, M c C r a c k e n a r g u e d that the m o d e l s are insufficient in explaining or accounting for the complexity of the celebrity e n d o r s e m e n t p r o c e s s . F o r e x a m p l e , in the s o u r c e m o d e l s , a s long a s the criteria for credibility a n d attractiveness are met, a n y celebrity should be effective in e n d o r s i n g a n y product. A c c o r d i n g to M c C r a c k e n , t h e s e m o d e l s place too m u c h e m p h a s i s o n the celebrity a n d d o not a c c o u n t for e n d o r s e m e n t s that fail a s a result of a ' m i s m a t c h ' b e t w e e n product a n d endorser. T h e y e m p h a s i z e conditions under w h i c h c o n s u m e r s might identify with a n endorser, but cannot a c c o u n t for the r e a s o n s w h y , w h i c h s u g g e s t s that the m o d e l s are incomplete. Ultimately, M c C r a c k e n a r g u e d , "the s o u r c e m o d e l s tell us about degrees  of attractiveness a n d credibility  w h e n what w e n e e d to k n o w about is kinds of attractiveness a n d credibility" (p.312). O t h e r m o d e l s h a v e a l s o b e e n d e v e l o p e d in the celebrity e n d o r s e m e n t literature. A c c o r d i n g to the match-up hypothesis ( K a m i n s , 1 9 9 0 , K a h l e & H o m e r , 1985), a n e n d o r s e m e n t is more effective w h e n there is a 'fit' b e t w e e n the  27  e n d o r s e r a n d the product (Till & B u s i e r , 2000). T h i s a p p r o a c h is b a s e d o n s o c i a l adaptation theory a n d s u g g e s t s that, for e x a m p l e , a n attractive celebrity m a y s e r v e a s a n effective e n d o r s e r for a product that is attractiveness related (Brooks & Harris, 1998). T h e match-up hypothesis has a l s o b e e n e x a m i n e d from the perspective of attribution theory, suggesting that c o n s u m e r s infer the c a u s e s of b e h a v i o u r of the celebrity e n d o r s e r ( F o l k e s , 1988; c f . B r o o k s & Harris, 1998). T h u s , in the c a s e of a s u c c e s s f u l athlete e n d o r s i n g athletic e q u i p m e n t , for e x a m p l e , c o n s u m e r s m a y infer that the e n d o r s e r would only c h o o s e to e n d o r s e e q u i p m e n t that w o u l d c a u s e him/her to perform at a high level. O v e r a l l , however, further empirical support for the theory of endorser/product match-up is required (Till & B u s i e r , 2 0 0 0 ) . O f all of t h e s e theoretical contributions, the o n e with the most to offer to the study of athletes like S i m o n Whitfield is M c C r a c k e n ' s (1989) m e a n i n g transfer m o d e l , b a s e d on a "conventional path" of m o v e m e n t of cultural m e a n i n g . A c c o r d i n g to M c C r a c k e n (1989, p. 313) "meaning b e g i n s a s s o m e t h i n g resident in the culturally constituted world," influenced by the prevailing culture, then follows a path of transfer to c o n s u m e r g o o d s a n d in turn to the life of the c o n s u m e r . It is through this m e a n i n g transfer p r o c e s s that c o n s u m e r s acquire g o o d s that not only s e r v e their n e e d s , but a l s o provide the " b u n d l e s of m e a n i n g " with w h i c h to build a cultural a n d social identity ( M c C r a c k e n , 1 9 8 9 , p. 314). F r o m this understanding of cultural m e a n i n g m o v e m e n t , M c C r a c k e n d e v e l o p e d a model that applies specifically to the e n d o r s e m e n t p r o c e s s . A c c o r d i n g to this m o d e l , m e a n i n g s are attached to the celebrity through previous  28  e v e n t s a n d p e r f o r m a n c e s , a n d it t h e s e m e a n i n g s that the celebrity brings to the e n d o r s e m e n t p r o c e s s . T h e s e m e a n i n g s are then transferred to the product through an (effective) e n d o r s e m e n t , a n d s u b s e q u e n t l y c l a i m e d or acquired by the c o n s u m e r in the d e v e l o p m e n t of s o c i a l identity. M e a n i n g T r a n s f e r - C o n s u m e r engineering a n d brand equity T o understand a n d apply M c C r a c k e n ' s model - b a s e d o n m e a n i n g transfer through culture - requires an understanding of the w a y s that m e a n i n g is constituted within culture. T h u s , a n understanding of the celebrity e n d o r s e r relates to the influence of style a n d i m a g e . Within the advertising a n d marketing industries, the notion of s e l f - e x p r e s s i v e style a n d its influence o n c o n s u m e r p u r c h a s i n g is a c c e p t e d a n d implemented into marketing practices ( B r o o k s & Harris, 1998). Marketing activities are d e s i g n e d to p a c k a g e a n d sell cultural " i m a g e s a n d illusions" by moving t h e m from the celebrity (athlete) e n d o r s e r to the product s o that the i m a g e s d e s i r e d by the c o n s u m e r c a n be c l a i m e d through p u r c h a s i n g ( B r o o k s & Harris, 1998, p. 37). T h i s p r o c e s s of c o n s u m e r engineering ( S h e l d o n & A r e n s , 1932) h a s b e e n practiced throughout the history of m o d e r n marketing ( E w e n , 1988) but is best exemplified in the c o n s u m e r culture by H o l m e s ' (1863) landmark c o n c e p t of the separation of form a n d function. With its roots in architecture, this conception of structural m e a n i n g s u g g e s t s that products, like buildings, c a n be d e s i g n e d a n d p r o d u c e d not only to s e r v e a practical p u r p o s e but a l s o to create a n d distribute m e a n i n g s to individuals or c o n s u m e r s . In a c o n s u m e r culture, products are v e h i c l e s of cultural m e a n i n g s .  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  30  u s e t h e s e m e a n i n g s in branding a n d promoting products. Little r e s e a r c h h a s e x a m i n e d the p r o c e s s by w h i c h athletic events a r e c o v e r e d a n d reported and the w a y s in w h i c h this c o v e r a g e is u s e d in marketing. In exploring t h e s e two realms simultaneously, this study traces cultural c o d e s of sport through a p r o c e s s of selection, promotion, a n d incorporation. It is important to note that while studies that inform this r e s e a r c h h a v e e x a m i n e d the production  of the sporting s p e c t a c l e ,  often through the m e d i u m of television ( M a c N e i l l , 1996, G r u n e a u , 1989), this r e s e a r c h e x p l o r e s how m e d i a organizations, primarily print, continue the p r o c e s s of creating a s u s t a i n e d s p e c t a c l e through interpretation a n d coverage  of sporting  e v e n t s a n d personalities. A s d e m o n s t r a t e d , r e s e a r c h on m e d i a production h a s often e x a m i n e d sporting e v e n t s a n d not individual athletes. M e d i a a n d marketing practices a n d social m e a n i n g s of a c h i e v e m e n t , nationalism, a n d c o m m e r c i a l i s m are potentially unique in the construction of single athletes v e r s u s entire e v e n t s . S t u d i e s that h a v e f o c u s e d o n individual athletes h a v e mostly e x a m i n e d professional athletes, s u c h a s M i c h a e l J o r d a n a n d W a y n e G r e t z k y , a n d the m a n n e r in w h i c h they are portrayed in m a s s m e d i a ( M c D o n a l d , 1996, Kellner 1 9 9 6 , A n d r e w s , 1 9 9 6 , J a c k s o n , 1994, 1998, 2001). T h i s work h a s tended to concentrate on the athletes' public profile, their commercialization through marketing a n d e n d o r s e m e n t s , a n d the s o c i a l a n d cultural implications of t h e s e conditions in terms of the m e d i a ' s portrayal of their race, gender, a n d s o c i a l c l a s s . H o w e v e r , O l y m p i c athletes s u c h a s Whitfield, still c o n s i d e r e d a m a t e u r in sports like triathlon b e c a u s e of the lack of a professional l e a g u e or circuit in w h i c h to  31  c o m p e t e , h a v e not b e e n e x a m i n e d in terms of m e d i a p r o d u c t i o n . T h u s , the 1  unique v a l u e s attached to the O l y m p i c G a m e s a n d the ideals of a m a t e u r competition h a v e not b e e n critically e x a m i n e d in the context of sports m e d i a production. T h i s study provides a n opportunity to learn more about the w a y s in w h i c h O l y m p i c athletes are portrayed in c o m m e r c i a l m a s s m e d i a a n d the potential implications of m e d i a production practices for sports culture a n d the b r o a d e r C a n a d i a n culture a s well. T h e majority of prior r e s e a r c h in this a r e a h a s b e e n t e x t - b a s e d with authors interpreting the m e a n i n g a n d impacts of m e d i a portrayals of particular athletes or c o v e r a g e of e v e n t s . T h i s methodology o v e r l o o k s the key role played by journalists, editors, b r o a d c a s t e r s , p r o d u c e r s , marketers a n d a g e n t s in determining the n e w s w o r t h i n e s s of e l e m e n t s of sporting s p e c t a c l e s , a s G r u n e a u (1989) e x p l a i n s : "...this 'textual' p e r s p e c t i v e h a s t e n d e d to d o w n p l a y a n a l y s i s of the political a n d e c o n o m i c limits a n d p r e s s u r e s that o p e r a t e a s c o n t e x t for t e l e v i s i o n s p o r t s p r o d u c t i o n , a n d it h a s all but i g n o r e d the a n a l y s i s of the a c t u a l t e c h n i c a l a n d p r o f e s s i o n a l p r a c t i c e s - the l a b o r p r o c e s s - i n v o l v e d in p r o d u c i n g s p o r t s for t e l e v i s i o n . In the a b s e n c e of d e t a i l e d c a s e s t u d i e s in t h e s e a r e a s , a s s e s s m e n t s of r e l a t i o n s h i p s b e t w e e n t e l e v i s i o n s p o r t s 'texts' a n d their ' c o n t e x t s ' of p r o d u c t i o n h a v e b e e n s p e c u l a t i v e at b e s t " (p. 135).  T o gain a better understanding of the social a n d c o m m e r c i a l v a l u e s underlying m e d i a c o v e r a g e of C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c athletes, it is n e c e s s a r y to e n g a g e t h o s e w h o s e v a l u e s , d e c i s i o n s , a n d practices are most influential: m e d i a a n d marketing practitioners. In the following m e t h o d s section, I d e s c r i b e how interviews with  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. 1  32  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  T h i s chapter s u m m a r i z e s the r e s e a r c h m e t h o d s u s e d in this study. T h e r e s e a r c h had two c o m p o n e n t s : 1) an a n a l y s i s of the m e d i a c o v e r a g e of S i m o n Whitfield a n d 2) interviews with journalists a n d marketers. T h i s combination of r e s e a r c h m e t h o d s w a s u s e d previously in the study of C a n a d i a n sports m e d i a production by M a c N e i l l (1996) a n d G r u n e a u (1989). T h e textual a n a l y s i s , c o m p r i s e d of a n interpretive reading of n e w s articles about Whitfield a n d a keyword s e a r c h of the C a n a d i a n N e w s D i s c d a t a b a s e , w a s d e s i g n e d a s a preliminary s t e p to the interviews, in o r d e r to identify the m a n n e r in w h i c h the C a n a d i a n p r e s s c o v e r e d Whitfield's g o l d - m e d a l performance. T h e primary f o c u s of the r e s e a r c h w a s the interview c o m p o n e n t , intended to build o n the textual d a t a by providing insight into the p e r s o n a l , professional a n d ideological factors that influenced the final m e d i a a n d marketing c o v e r a g e of Whitfield. F o r both s t e p s in the r e s e a r c h p r o c e s s , a description a n d rationale is provided a n d strengths a n d w e a k n e s s e s are d i s c u s s e d .  3.1 Textual Analysis of Media coverage of Simon Whitfield T h e goal of the textual a n a l y s i s w a s to identify a n d d o c u m e n t thematic c o n s i s t e n c i e s that e m e r g e d in the Whitfield c o v e r a g e . Attaining this g o a l required a compatible combination of qualitative a n d quantitative strategies. I c h o s e a m e t h o d o l o g y informed by both s e m i o l o g y (for the interpretive reading) a n d content a n a l y s i s (for the keyword s e a r c h ) . T h i s combination of r e s e a r c h strategies h a s b e e n u s e d in the critical study of a d v e r t i s e m e n t s ( L e i s s , K l i n e , &  34  Jhally, 1 9 8 6 , G o o d m a n , D u k e , a n d Sutherland 2 0 0 2 ) , in order to conduct r e s e a r c h that is rigorous a n d s y s t e m a t i c a s well a s sensitive to multiple meanings. S e m i o l o g y (or semiotics) d e v e l o p e d from linguistics a s a m e a n s of understanding a n d analyzing the p r o c e s s e s through w h i c h cultural m e a n i n g s are constructed ( L e i s s et a l . , 1986). Essentially, a n y meaningful object, event, or practice c a n be studied using a s e m i o l o g i c a l a p p r o a c h ( L e i s s et a l . , 1986). T h e e s s e n t i a l unit of m e a n i n g construction in s e m i o l o g y is s i g n s , a n d s e m i o l o g y m a y be understood a s the " s c i e n c e of signs," wherein r e s e a r c h e r s e x a m i n e how a r r a n g e m e n t s of signifiers c o m e to specify particular m e a n i n g s to particular g r o u p s of p e o p l e . C o n t e x t a n d interaction of signifiers are important in the semiological approach where: " . . . r e l a t i o n s h i p s a m o n g the parts of a m e s s a g e or c o m m u n i c a t i o n s y s t e m [are critical, for] it is only t h r o u g h the interaction of c o m p o n e n t parts that m e a n i n g is f o r m e d . " ( L e i s s et a l . , 1 9 8 6 , p. 150)  W h e n conducting s e m i o l o g i c a l a n a l y s e s , a sign m a y be thought of a s a combination of two c o m p o n e n t parts: "the signifier" (the v e h i c l e of the meaning) a n d "the signified" (the m e a n i n g itself) ( L e i s s et a l . , 1986). A s e m i o l o g i c a l a p p r o a c h is useful in this r e s e a r c h a s a m e a n s of interpreting a n d a n a l y z i n g the cultural m e a n i n g s that are signified in the m e d i a c o v e r a g e of Whitfield. H o w e v e r , there are s e v e r a l w e a k n e s s e s to the s e m i o l o g i c a l a p p r o a c h that should be c o n s i d e r e d . First, s e m i o l o g y relies almost exclusively o n the skills of the interpreter. In this w a y , a l e s s skilled or e x p e r i e n c e d analyst m a y p r o d u c e results that are superficial, inconsistent, or unreliable. S e c o n d , b e c a u s e a s e m i o l o g i c a l a n a l y s i s c a n only be applied to  35  specific texts a n d i n s t a n c e s in which they have b e e n e x a m i n e d , it d o e s not lend itself to results that are g e n e r a l i z a b l e to the larger population. T h e r e f o r e , a c c o r d i n g to L e i s s et a l . (1986, p. 165), "What insights m a y be extracted from (semiology) must remain impressionistic." Third, s e m i o l o g y is often p l a g u e d by u n e q u a l a c c e s s to all texts within a large s a m p l e or to different types of texts. F o r e x a m p l e , a semiologist m a y c h o o s e texts that support previously constructed a r g u m e n t s , a s o p p o s e d to exploring a random s a m p l e ( L e i s s et a l . , 1986). T o a c c o u n t for t h e s e w e a k n e s s e s in s e m i o l o g y , this thesis r e s e a r c h a l s o e m p l o y e d a keyword s e a r c h informed by the method of content a n a l y s i s . C o n t e n t a n a l y s i s is d e s i g n e d to break d o w n a group of texts into fields of representation a n d then interpret the results ( L e i s s et a l . , 1986). T h u s , while s e m i o l o g y is c o n c e r n e d with the interpretations of s i g n s a n d m e a n i n g s , content a n a l y s i s s e e k s to reliably d e s c r i b e texts by restricting the unit of m e a s u r e m e n t to surface content. T h e main strength of content a n a l y s i s is its ability to objectively detect patterns of similarity a n d difference a c r o s s a s a m p l e group ( L e i s s et a l . , 1986). H o w e v e r , content a n a l y s i s h a s w e a k n e s s e s a s well. T h e primary criticism of content a n a l y s i s is that it fails to accurately a n a l y z e the m e a n i n g s of texts, concentrating instead o n isolated i s s u e s of o c c u r r e n c e or repeatability ( L e i s s et al., 1986). C o n t e n t a n a l y s i s s a y s little, if anything, about the signification of a text, nor c a n it m a k e a n y r e a s o n a b l e inference about the m a n n e r in w h i c h a u d i e n c e s might interpret the m e a n i n g s i m b e d d e d therein. G i v e n the strengths a n d w e a k n e s s e s of s e m i o l o g y a n d content a n a l y s i s , c o m b i n i n g the two is a r e a s o n a b l e w a y to e m p l o y the strengths of both in order to  36  " . . . b e rigorous a n d s y s t e m a t i c while a l s o being sensitive to the multiple levels of m e a n i n g a n d the multiple c o d e s that [texts] e m p l o y ( L e i s s , et a l . , 1 9 8 6 , p. 175)." T h e textual a n a l y s i s u s e d in this study drew o n both t e c h n i q u e s but modified t h e m in order to create a method of data collection a n d a n a l y s i s that fit the r e s e a r c h g o a l , n a m e l y establishing context from w h i c h to d e v e l o p a n interview protocol a n d conduct interviews with journalists a n d marketers. With this u n d e r s t a n d i n g , I d e s i g n e d a n interpretive content a n a l y s i s that c o m b i n e d a reading a n d a keyword s e a r c h . Textual R e a d i n g T h e first step in the textual a n a l y s i s w a s a n interpretive reading of C a n a d i a n m e d i a c o v e r a g e of Whitfield. T h e reading s e r v e d two specific p u r p o s e s : 1) to identify a n y thematic c o n s i s t e n c i e s in the m e d i a c o v e r a g e of Whitfield a n d 2) to interpret, a n d w h e r e appropriate, deconstruct, the s o c i a l a n d cultural m e a n i n g s i m b e d d e d in this c o v e r a g e . T h e reading w a s c o n d u c t e d by s c a n n i n g n e w s p a p e r articles published in ten major C a n a d i a n daily n e w s p a p e r s , ( C a l g a r y H e r a l d , E d m o n t o n J o u r n a l , E d m o n t o n S u n , Montreal G a z e t t e , National P o s t , O t t a w a C i t i z e n , V a n c o u v e r P r o v i n c e , V a n c o u v e r S u n , Victoria T i m e s Colonist, W i n n i p e g S u n ) e a c h of which c o v e r e d the S y d n e y O l y m p i c s a n d Whitfield's g o l d m e d a l victory. T h e reading included materials p u b l i s h e d b e t w e e n S e p t e m b e r 1 a n d N o v e m b e r 3 0 , 2 0 0 0 , which c o v e r e d the S y d n e y O l y m p i c s , st  held S e p t e m b e r 1 6  t h  th  to O c t o b e r 1 , 2 0 0 0 . st  S c a n n i n g the articles, a n d interpreting the m e a n i n g s a s c r i b e d to Whitfield through p r e s s c o v e r a g e , allowed for similar types of c o v e r a g e to be g r o u p e d  37  together a c c o r d i n g to how the journalists constructed the "Whitfield story." T h i s p r o c e s s e n a b l e d m e to identify major t h e m e s that e m e r g e d in his c o v e r a g e a n d to identify h o w t h e s e t h e m e s w e r e constructed semiologically. T o s u p p l e m e n t the initial reading, I performed three s u b s e q u e n t s c a n s using the C a n a d i a n N e w s D i s c d a t a b a s e a n d the microfiche stores of C a n a d i a n n e w s p a p e r s in the University of British C o l u m b i a library. T h i s w a s meant to provide depth to the a n a l y s i s a n d further specify the most prevalent t h e m e s . In the tradition of responsible textual a n a l y s e s , the a n a l y s i s in this study w a s e n v i s i o n e d a s a m e a n s of establishing a critical lens through w h i c h to e x a m i n e the Whitfield c a s e a s well a s to d e v e l o p a b a s i s from w h i c h to d i s c u s s Whitfield with m e d i a a n d marketing practitioners. W h e n c o n d u c t e d in a sensitive m a n n e r , textual a n d production-based r e s e a r c h is relevant a n d justified in that it s h e d s light o n i s s u e s of cultural a n d s o c i a l representations a n d provides a b a s i s from w h i c h 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 Search T h e initial reading w a s not d e s i g n e d to objectively a n a l y z e the n u m b e r of articles that c o m p r i s e d e a c h t h e m e but rather to f o c u s o n the m e a n i n g s that w e r e p r o d u c e d . R e c o g n i z i n g the n e e d to support my interpretive a n a l y s i s with more rigorous, s t a n d a r d i z e d , a n d self-reflexive a c c o u n t s ( L e i s s et a l . , 1986), I a l s o c o n d u c t e d a structured keyword s e a r c h using the C a n a d i a n N e w s D i s c D a t a b a s e  38  a n d O l y m p i c c o v e r a g e from C B C television in order to d o c u m e n t the distribution of t h e m e s within the Whitfield c o v e r a g e . T h e k e y w o r d s e a r c h w a s intended to a n a l y z e h o w the thematic c o n s i s t e n c i e s identified in the reading w e r e distributed a m o n g a large s a m p l e of articles. T h e s e a r c h d o c u m e n t e d the p r e v a l e n c e of k e y w o r d s that represented t h e m e s identified in the interpretive a n a l y s i s while a l s o remaining o p e n to e m e r g e n t t h e m e s . T o maintain a m a n a g e a b l e s a m p l e s i z e , s e a r c h e s w e r e limited to five n e w s p a p e r s ( E d m o n t o n J o u r n a l , National P o s t , V a n c o u v e r P r o v i n c e , V a n c o u v e r S u n , Victoria T i m e s - C o l o n i s t ) that represented national, local, a n d regional p a p e r s (as determined by circulation rates) a n d a l s o r e p r e s e n t e d distinct g e o g r a p h i c a r e a s of C a n a d a , including Whitfield's h o m e t o w n of Victoria. T h e s e n e w s p a p e r s w e r e a l s o s e l e c t e d b e c a u s e they e m p l o y e d the journalists targeted for interviews in P h a s e 2. T h e keyword s e a r c h w a s limited to stories p u b l i s h e d by the five n e w s p a p e r s between S e p t e m b e r 1 a n d O c t o b e r 1 , 2 0 0 0 , a time period st  st  that c o v e r e d the two w e e k s before, a n d the two w e e k s during the S y d n e y O l y m p i c s . I d e c i d e d it w a s u n n e c e s s a r y to include the two w e e k s of c o v e r a g e after the O l y m p i c s b e c a u s e the m e n ' s triathlon took p l a c e o n D a y T w o of the O l y m p i c G a m e s w h i c h meant that the majority of the c o v e r a g e that Whitfield r e c e i v e d w a s c o v e r e d in the s a m p l e frame. C B C television c o v e r a g e of S e p t e m b e r 16, 2 0 0 0 , the d a y of Whitfield's victory in the O l y m p i c m e n ' s triathlon, w a s a l s o recorded a n d a n a l y z e d for content that directly related to Whitfield. T h i s e n c o m p a s s e d 12.5 hours of televised c o v e r a g e , a n d included a preview of the  39  m e n ' s triathlon, a biography of Whitfield a n d the race itself. It represented most of the f o c u s e d c o v e r a g e afforded Whitfield by C B C . T h i s r e s e a r c h w a s facilitated by having a c c e s s to the C B C television c o v e r a g e of the 2 0 0 0 S y d n e y O l y m p i c s (recorded in the L e i s u r e a n d Sport M a n a g e m e n t audio/video lab at the University of British C o l u m b i a b e t w e e n S e p t e m b e r 1 6 a n d O c t o b e r 1 , 2000), the C a n a d i a n N e w s D i s c d a t a b a s e t h  st  through the University of British C o l u m b i a library w e b s i t e , a n d C a n a d i a n n e w s p a p e r microfiche a r c h i v e s in the University of British C o l u m b i a library.  3.2 Interviews with Media and Marketing Practitioners T h e primary method u s e d in this part of the thesis r e s e a r c h w a s s e m i structured interviewing with m e d i a a n d marketing practitioners. T h e interviews w e r e d e s i g n e d to build o n the textual a n a l y s i s by providing insight into the p r o c e s s e s that directly influenced the m e d i a c o v e r a g e a n d marketing of S i m o n Whitfield. Interview methodology fits within the p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l a p p r o a c h to social r e s e a r c h , w h i c h f o c u s e s o n understanding s o c i a l interactions from the perspective of s o c i a l actors ( B o g d a n a n d Taylor, 1975). P h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l r e s e a r c h is l e s s f o c u s e d o n facts or c a u s e s of s o c i a l reality, a n d more o n describing s o c i a l structures from the perspective of the subject ( B o g d a n a n d Taylor, 1975). T h e r e a r e s e v e r a l a p p r o a c h e s from w h i c h the interviewer c a n a p p r o a c h the interviewee (Hollway a n d J e f f e r s o n , 2 0 0 0 ) , three of w h i c h a r e d i s c u s s e d here. In the traditional a p p r o a c h , the s u c c e s s of the interview is s e e n to be primarily a matter of g o o d investigative technique o n the part of the interviewer (Hollway a n d J e f f e r s o n , 2000). F o r e x a m p l e , follow-up q u e s t i o n s that  40  build o n previous a n s w e r s are crucial for extracting a s m u c h information from the interviewee a s p o s s i b l e . In the narrative a p p r o a c h , the interviewer's role is to b e a g o o d listener, a n d the interviewee is s e e n a s a storyteller (Hollway a n d Jefferson,  2000). T h i s  technique often e m p l o y s o p e n - e n d e d q u e s t i o n s that allow  for e m e r g e n t a n d in s o m e c a s e s , u n e x p e c t e d results. T h e clinical c a s e - s t u d y a p p r o a c h , most often u s e d in p s y c h o a n a l y s i s , requires a large d e g r e e of reflexivity with the o n u s o n the interviewer to interpret the results of the interview while a c c o u n t i n g for i s s u e s of objectivity a n d bias (Hollway a n d J e f f e r s o n , 2000). F o r this study, I d e s i g n e d a n interview protocol b a s e d o n semi-structured interviews that c o m b i n e d e l e m e n t s of the traditional, narrative, a n d clinical a p p r o a c h e s . U s i n g the results of the textual a n a l y s i s , in particular the thematic c o n s i s t e n c i e s in the m e a n i n g s a s c r i b e d to Whitfield's gold m e d a l victory, I d e v e l o p e d a protocol to u s e a s a template for conducting interviews ( s e e A p p e n d i x 1). T h e interview protocol w a s d e s i g n e d s o that key t h e m e s a n d topics w e r e a d d r e s s e d in the questions a s k e d of all interviewees. A t the s a m e time, all q u e s t i o n s w e r e o p e n - e n d e d to allow interviewees' r e s p o n s e s to influence the direction of the protocol. Follow-up a n d probing q u e s t i o n s w e r e u s e d w h e n e v e r appropriate. Notions of reflexivity from the clinical a p p r o a c h w e r e a l s o e m p l o y e d to promote objectivity a n d minimize bias w h e r e v e r p o s s i b l e . F o r e x a m p l e , questions w e r e d e s i g n e d to be of neutral tone a n d every attempt w a s m a d e to avoid a n y leading q u e s t i o n s . N o proprietary information w a s r e q u e s t e d . Ultimately, the interview protocol f o c u s e d on the m e d i a a n d marketing  41  construction of S i m o n Whitfield, but a l s o remained o p e n to important a n d revealing points introduced by interview subjects. In addition to i s s u e s of objectivity and interviewer b i a s e s , interview m e t h o d o l o g y c a n be c o m p r o m i s e d by the difficulty in establishing a n interviewerinterviewee relationship a n d knowing whether or not subjects' r e s p o n s e s are truthful ( B o g d a n a n d Taylor, 1975). In this c a s e q u e s t i o n s that related to b u s i n e s s strategies h a d the potential to threaten the interview relationship or result in misleading or untruthful r e s p o n s e s . Therefore, in addition to not requesting a n y proprietary information, all interview participants retained the right to refuse to a n s w e r a n y questions at their discretion. Interview S a m p l e Prior to recruiting interview participants, I applied to the Office of R e s e a r c h S e r v i c e s at the University of British C o l u m b i a for B e h a v i o u r a l E t h i c s a p p r o v a l . A p p r o v a l w a s granted on F e b r u a r y 2 2 , 2 0 0 2 ( S e e A p p e n d i x 2). n d  T h e p r o c e s s of identifying potential interviewees for this project b e g a n on F e b r u a r y 1 7 , 2 0 0 2 through email c o r r e s p o n d e n c e with a representative of th  International M a n a g e m e n t G r o u p (IMG), the firm that represents S i m o n Whitfield. T h r o u g h this initial c o r r e s p o n d e n c e , a list of five c o m p a n i e s with marketingb a s e d relationships with Whitfield w a s obtained. In April, 2 0 0 2 a list of journalists w h o had c o v e r e d Whitfield w a s c o m p i l e d from the bylines of the articles u s e d in the textual a n a l y s i s . F o r m a l interview recruitment b e g a n on M a y 2, 2 0 0 2 . Fourteen p a c k a g e s w e r e mailed, including a letter of recruitment a n d a n informed c o n s e n t form, to ten journalists a n d four sponsoring/marketing c o m p a n i e s .  42  T e l e p h o n e calls a n d e-mail m e s s a g e s w e r e u s e d a s follow-ups to c o m p l e t e the recruitment p r o c e s s a n d determine journalists' willingness to participate. In the c a s e of marketers, the follow-up c o r r e s p o n d e n c e w a s a l s o u s e d to identify the m a n a g e r with direct k n o w l e d g e of a n d e x p e r i e n c e with the Whitfield a c c o u n t . Five journalists a n d four marketing/sales representatives a g r e e d to interviews for the r e s e a r c h project. T h e other five journalists w h o w e r e c o n t a c t e d did either not feel qualified to s p e a k k n o w l e d g e a b l y about the Whitfield c a s e (one), w e r e not available during the study's timeframe (two), or did not r e s p o n d to repeated recruitment c o r r e s p o n d e n c e (two). A recruitment p a c k a g e w a s a l s o s e n t to S i m o n Whitfield's c o a c h o n S e p t e m b e r 5 , 2 0 0 2 , a n d contact information for t h  Whitfield w a s obtained through s u b s e q u e n t c o r r e s p o n d e n c e . Whitfield himself w a s recruited for a n interview via t e l e p h o n e on S e p t e m b e r 1 2 , 2 0 0 2 a n d t h  Whitfield a g r e e d to a t e l e p h o n e interview. I c o n d u c t e d all interviews personally. G i v e n the r e s e a r c h e r ' s g e o g r a p h i c location ( V a n c o u v e r ) a n d the various locations a c r o s s C a n a d a of sports reporters a n d marketers involved with S i m o n Whitfield, face-to-face interviews w e r e not a l w a y s f e a s i b l e . In t h e s e four c a s e s , t e l e p h o n e interviews w e r e 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 and December 17 , 2001. Sixty articles from ten major Canadian th  th  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  44  Whitfield. R o w #3 provides a list of descriptors or k e y w o r d s that represent the t h e m e a n d w e r e u s e d to d e s c r i b e Whitfield in m e d i a c o v e r a g e . ( T h e s e k e y w o r d s w e r e u s e d a g a i n in the keyword search.) T a b l e 4.1 - Explanation of T h e m e s in C o v e r a g e of S i m o n Whitfield 1. T h e m e s in the c o v e r a g e of S i m o n Whitfield: 2. Characterized as:  3. D e s c r i p t o r s of Whitfield or keywords:  #3  #2  #1 Champion  Canadian  Olympic  Hero  Commercial Success  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.  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 t h e s e three t h e m e s w e r e not intended to be e x h a u s t i v e or mutually e x c l u s i v e . It is r e a s o n a b l e to s u g g e s t that other investigators m a y h a v e derived different t h e m e s by reading the s a m e c o v e r a g e . H o w e v e r , the three t h e m e s d o provide important a n d informative context from w h i c h to further d e v e l o p understandings of the m e d i a portrayals of Whitfield. I u s e e x c e r p t s from n e w s p a p e r c o v e r a g e to provide e v i d e n c e of the m a n n e r in w h i c h S i m o n Whitfield w a s portrayed in the C a n a d i a n m e d i a . It is important to note that t h e s e excerpts are e x a m p l e s of sports writing, a particular genre within the popular p r e s s . T h e s e s a m p l e s p o s s e s s unique e l e m e n t s of the sports writing style; they a r e colourful,  45  theatrical, b o m b a s t i c a n d v e r b o s e a n d often e m p l o y c l i c h e s a n d e v e n stereotypes. T h i s is important context w h e n describing the m a n n e r in w h i c h Whitfield's victory w a s interpreted a n d reported in the C a n a d i a n p r e s s . T h e three t h e m e s are e x a m i n e d in more detail below with e x a m p l e s provided from e x e m p l a r y n e w s p a p e r articles. Champion F r o m the outset ( S e p t e m b e r 1 7 , 2 0 0 2 ) n e w s p a p e r stories about Whitfield th  f o c u s e d on the fact that he had w o n the gold m e d a l . T h e fact that Whitfield r e c e i v e d significant m e d i a attention for winning a gold m e d a l is not surprising s i n c e this is the norm for m e d i a c o v e r a g e of O l y m p i c athletes, but his c o v e r a g e d e m o n s t r a t e d a flair a n d hyperbole that from the start had heroic a n d nationalistic pretentions. " S i m o n W h i t f i e l d . . . h a d d o n e it the C a n a d i a n w a y , c o m i n g f r o m w a y b a c k , finding a r e s e r v e n o b o d y thought w a s p o s s i b l e , r u n n i n g his w a y into c o n t e n t i o n in the g r u e l i n g m e n ' s triathlon e v e n t . A n d w h e n there w a s a c h a n c e to w i n - not just win a m e d a l but w i n the g o l d - Whitfield m a n a g e d w h a t the o t h e r c o n t e n d e r s c o u l d not. H e f o u n d a w a y . First p u s h i n g his w a y into third p l a c e , t h e n s e c o n d , t h e n that m a d d e s p e r a t e d a s h to the finish line." - S t e v e S i m m o n s , W i n n i p e g Sun, 09/17/00  T h e C a n a d i a n m e d i a praised Whitfield for his personal drive to victory, a s s u m i n g in its c o v e r a g e of his a c h i e v e m e n t that he had b e e n motivated, primarily, by the g o a l of winning the race. "If t h e r e ' s o n e thing C a n a d i a n s a d m i r e a b o u t s p o r t s f i g u r e s , it's grit. S i l k e n L a u m a n n w o n o u r h e a r t s by c o u r a g e o u s l y rowing to a b r o n z e m e d a l in 1 9 9 2 d e s p i t e a grisly injury to her leg just w e e k s b e f o r e the big e v e n t . T h i s y e a r , C a n a d i a n g o l d m e d a l triathlete S i m o n Whitfield c a p t u r e d n a t i o n a l r e s p e c t b y fighting f r o m the b a c k of the p a c k to a triumphant finish - d r i v e n b y a p u r e h u n g e r for victory." - L i a n e F a u l d e r , E d m o n t o n J o u r n a l , 0 9 / 2 6 / 0 0  T h e f o c u s o n Whitfield's victory took other forms within the C a n a d i a n m e d i a . A s well a s being v a l u e d for his victory, Whitfield w a s positioned a s a  46  v a l u a b l e athlete relative to other C a n a d i a n O l y m p i a n s w h o h a d failed to m e d a l . F o r e x a m p l e , in the s a m e article a s that cited a b o v e , F a u l d e r c h a s t i s e d other m e m b e r s of the C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c t e a m , specifically track stars B r u n y Surin a n d D o n o v a n B a i l e y , for not a d e q u a t e l y performing despite a n injury a n d a n illness, respectively. A popular d i s c o u r s e thus e m e r g e d within the C a n a d i a n m e d i a that e x a m i n e d h o w poorly B a i l e y a n d Surin had performed, a n d h o w particularly disconcerting their p e r f o r m a n c e s w e r e relative to the outstanding p e r f o r m a n c e turned in by Whitfield. In this context, Whitfield's win w a s positioned a s a b e n c h m a r k for C a n a d i a n p e r f o r m a n c e s in S y d n e y a n d a l l o w e d for the vilification of other C a n a d i a n athletes w h o did not win m e d a l s . " T h e G a m e s aren't o v e r but the verdict is in. W e a r e h a v i n g a v e r y d i s a p p o i n t i n g O l y m p i c s . C o n g r a t u l a t i o n s to S i m o n Whitfield o n a h e r o i c a c h i e v e m e n t in the m e n ' s triathlon a n d to the m e n ' s b a s k e t b a l l t e a m o n a n a m a z i n g s h o w i n g , but t h e y a r e c l e a r l y the e x c e p t i o n s . T h e rule is u n d e r a c h i e v e m e n t . " - T o m Barrett, Edmonton Journal, 09/26/00  National h e r o T h e positioning of Whitfield a s a victor a n d s t a n d a r d - b e a r e r for other C a n a d i a n O l y m p i a n s allowed for a s m o o t h transition to a s e c o n d t h e m e in the construction of his m e d i a i m a g e . C o v e r a g e e m p h a s i z e d Whitfield's v a l u e to C a n a d i a n culture, identity, a n d pride a n d positioned his gold m e d a l a s a s y m b o l of C a n a d i a n expertise, c o m p e t e n c e o n the international s t a g e , a n d a n e n v i a b l e a m a t e u r sport s y s t e m a b l e to produce O l y m p i c c h a m p i o n s . T h i s adulation of Whitfield took different forms. It w a s clearly tied to his victory, a s s e e n in the previous s e c t i o n , but it w a s a l s o linked to his physical attributes a n d p e r s o n a . F o r  47  e x a m p l e , the following statement a p p e a r e d in a n article in the National P o s t under the headline " O u r Hero H e a r d the C r y of a Nation": " H e is a wiry sprite of e x t r a o r d i n a r y g r a c e . H i s c u r l s a r e the v e r y g o l d of that p o d i u m in the s u n of S y d n e y H a r b o u r h e k i s s e d , t h e n s t e p p e d u p o n to a c c e p t his m e d a l a n d his f l o w e r s , into w h i c h h e s o b b e d a n d p r e s s e d his c o l l a p s i n g f a c e a s his a n t h e m p l a y e d , his flag r o s e , a n d his o v e r s i z e d heart filled to b u r s t i n g . " Christie Blatchford, National Post, 09/18/00  T h i s excerpt d e m o n s t r a t e s the rhetoric of nationalistic h e r o i s m involved in the c o v e r a g e of Whitfield, yet the focus w a s almost non-sport related. W h i l e Whitfield w a s v a l u e d for winning the gold m e d a l , the c o v e r a g e afforded his victory w a s validated by this particular author b e c a u s e he fit the i m a g e of the 'golden boy,' s u g g e s t i n g that his sprite-like qualities, g r a c e f u l n e s s , a n d g o l d e n curls are the marks of a c h a m p i o n . T h e article continued by linking his heroic c h a r a c t e r to his g e n u i n e victory: " H e is f u n n y a n d p r o f o u n d . H e is m a d l y extroverted a n d w i c k e d l y selfd e p r e c a t i n g , w h i c h is to m e a n c o m p l i c a t e d . H e is intelligent a n d c r e a t i v e , with s u c h e n o r m o u s intuition that his quiet, thoughtful father, G e o f f , s a y s of h i m , ' H e r e s p o n d s to things I don't e v e n h e a r . ' O n e of t h o s e things the c h a m p i o n h e a r d w a s the cry of a nation h u n g r y for victory." - B l a t c h f o r d (con't.) i  T h e link s e e n in this article b e t w e e n Whitfield's s u c c e s s a n d his C a n a d i a n identity continued in various forms in other articles. T h e relationship b e t w e e n the athletic s u c c e s s of O l y m p i a n s like Whitfield a n d the state of C a n a d i a n national identity w a s a privileged t h e m e in C a n a d i a n m e d i a . C a n a d i a n c o v e r a g e of the O l y m p i c s a s s u m e d that C a n a d i a n athletes s e r v e a s a m b a s s a d o r s of C a n a d a a n d represent the positive moral v a l u e s that characterize C a n a d i a n s o c i a l identity. It a l s o a s s u m e d that, in the c a s e of sport, this representation is best s e r v e d by athletes w h o win.  48  " O u r C a n a d i a n sport s y s t e m , a n d the O l y m p i c s , in particular, s y m b o l i z e w h a t w e b e l i e v e in o u r h e a r t s , a s a n a t i o n . W e b e l i e v e in fair a n d h o n e s t c o m p e t i t i o n , a n d e x c e l l e n c e . O n e c a n n o t h e l p but b e i n s p i r e d by the g o l d - m e d a l p e r f o r m a n c e s of C a n a d i a n s S i m o n W h i t f i e l d , D a n i e l Igali, D a n i e l N e s t o r , a n d S e b a s t i e n L a r e a u . T h e t e a r s a n d e m o t i o n of Whitfield a n d Igali, the i m p l a c a b l e restraint of N e s t o r a n d L a r e a u , s p e a k to the d i c h o t o m y of o u r country." - J o h n M i l l s , C a l g a r y H e r a l d , 11/25/00  T h u s , an a s s o c i a t i o n w a s e s t a b l i s h e d within the m e d i a d i s c o u r s e s of Whitfield a n d other gold m e d a l winners between the act of winning a n d the attributes of a n heroic figure. T h e r e w a s a l s o e v i d e n c e to s u g g e s t that Whitfield's a c c o m p l i s h m e n t w a s p e r c e i v e d a s that of a role m o d e l for youth a n d that Whitfield could inspire positive c h a n g e s in C a n a d i a n society a n d within the C a n a d i a n sport delivery s y s t e m : "After w a t c h i n g C a n a d a w i n g o l d in the triathlon, c h i l d r e n a r e d r e a m i n g of b e i n g the next S i m o n W h i t f i e l d . A n d w h y n o t ? O l y m p i c a t h l e t e s h a v e to start s o m e w h e r e , s o g o a h e a d a n d e n c o u r a g e y o u r child to b e t h e next O l y m p i c c h a m p i o n . " - J i l l Barker, Montreal Gazette, 09/26/00 " A s t r o n g , p h y s i c a l l y fit nation c a n ' t exist without h e r o - l i k e a t h l e t e s to i n s p i r e the rest of u s , s a y athletic s p e c i a l i s t s . 'Investing in s u c c e s s f u l p o s i t i v e r o l e - m o d e l s , like ( G o l d - w i n n i n g triathlete) S i m o n W h i t f i e l d , m a k e s a lot of s e n s e , ' s a y s T e r r y M c K i n t y , a p r o g r a m director at the C a n a d i a n A s s o c i a t i o n for H e a l t h , P h y s i c a l Education, Recreation, and D a n c e . " - Kelly C r y d e r m a n , Ottawa Citizen, 09/21/00  Commercial success T h e first two t h e m e s demonstrate how Whitfield's athletic s u c c e s s w a s positioned with respect to the cultural v a l u e s of winning a n d national pride. T h e third t h e m e is related to t h e s e , but d e m o n s t r a t e s how the m e d i a positioned Whitfield a s v a l u a b l e to c o m m e r c e a n d c o n s u m e r culture a s well a s to national culture. C o v e r a g e that f o c u s e d on the c o m m e r c i a l o u t c o m e s of Whitfield's newfound f a m e a n d status e m e r g e d two to three w e e k s after his victory. F o r  49  e x a m p l e , s e v e r a l S p o r t s section articles reported o n Whitfield's c o m m e r c i a l p r o g r e s s a n d his contracts to e n d o r s e c o n s u m e r products s u c h a s C h e e r i o s breakfast c e r e a 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 C a n a d a . A s 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, Whitfield's signing a contract with a sports m a n a g e m e n t c o m p a n y w a s also d e e m e d newsworthy and helped to legitimate his status a s a c o m m e r c i a l success. "Whitfield...had some inkling of what's in store because two days before the G a m e s 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 Search T h e keyword s e a r c h w a s c o n d u c t e d between S e p t e m b e r 1 5  t h  and October  1 5 , 2 0 0 2 in order to explore the validity of the textual readings by determining th  the p r e v a l e n c e a n d distribution of t h e m e s within C a n a d i a n m e d i a c o v e r a g e of Whitfield. A b a s i c s e a r c h for the term "Whitfield" in the C a n a d i a n N e w s D i s c d a t a b a s e revealed 118 total articles that m a d e reference to him within the five n e w s p a p e r s in the s a m p l e ( E d m o n t o n J o u r n a l , National P o s t , V a n c o u v e r P r o v i n c e , V a n c o u v e r S u n , Victoria T i m e s - C o l o n i s t ) between S e p t e m b e r 1 October 1 , 2000. st  50  st  and  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 - W h i t f i e l d K e y w o r d s e a r c h : T o t a l r e s u l t s C a n a d i a n N e w s D i s c D a t a b a s e - S e p t e m b e r 2000 Marketing  M 6  Sponsor Hero  123  Champion  J67  Nation  170 102  Gold  H104  Canada 20  60  40  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 i n k e d results  0  20  40  60  80  100  120  It is important to note, a s well, that during the s c a n n i n g p r o c e s s for linked keyword r e f e r e n c e s within e a c h article, care w a s taken to r e c o g n i z e a n y new or e m e r g e n t t h e m e s . If t h e m e s did e m e r g e , new k e y w o r d s representative of the t h e m e s w e r e c o u p l e d with 'Whitfield' to form a n e w s e a r c h term c o m b i n a t i o n a n d subjected to the p r o c e s s d e s c r i b e d a b o v e . C B C television c o v e r a g e of Whitfield from S e p t e m b e r 1 7 , 2 0 0 0 (the d a y th  of the O l y m p i c m e n ' s triathlon) w a s a l s o a n a l y z e d using the s a m e key terms e m p l o y e d in the C a n a d i a n N e w s D i s c d a t a b a s e a n a l y s i s . Within the television c o v e r a g e , the n u m b e r of references to e a c h key term w a s r e c o r d e d provided it directly related to Whitfield. E m e r g e n t t h e m e s a n d representative k e y w o r d s w e r e also a c c o u n t e d for. A list of references to Whitfield a n d a c c o m p a n y i n g k e y w o r d s w a s constructed for C B C television c o v e r a g e , using the s a m e method a s for n e w s p a p e r c o v e r a g e ( S e e G r a p h 4.3).  52  Graph 4.3 - Whitfield Keyword search CBC Television - September 16, 2000 Endorse  0  Marketing  0  Maple Leaf  ]1  Sponsor  ]1  Champion Role Model Hero  •  2  Zl3  • 3  Nation Medal  ] 11  Gold  J 6 8  77  Canada 10  20  30  40  50  60  70  80  90  Finally, a c o m p a r i s o n of n e w s p a p e r and television c o v e r a g e w a s prepared that listed the n u m b e r of linked references in both n e w s p a p e r a n d television coverage (See Graph  4.4).  53  Graph 4.4 - Whitfield Keyword search Newspaper and CBC Television coverage Marketing  8  Sponsor Hero Champion  rno  • C B C Television • NewsDisc  Nation Gold  7  Canada  1  20  40  60  80  100  T h e results of the Whitfield keyword s e a r c h s u g g e s t that Whitfield's gold m e d a l a n d his C a n a d i a n identity w e r e the most prevalent descriptors within both C a n a d i a n television a n d n e w s p a p e r c o v e r a g e of his O l y m p i c w i n . T h e results are significant in that the gold medal and Whitfield's C a n a d i a n - n e s s w e r e u s e d in m e d i a c o v e r a g e exponentially more often than the next most frequent keyword identified in the textual a n a l y s i s , nation, which itself related to his C a n a d i a n identity. T h e representations of Whitfield took different forms but primarily the gold m e d a l and his C a n a d i a n identity b e c a m e shorthand u s e d to identify Whitfield in m e d i a c o v e r a g e . After his victory in the O l y m p i c triathlon, for e x a m p l e , Whitfield w a s often referred to a s " C a n a d a ' s gold medallist." S i n c e the k e y w o r d s w e r e d e v e l o p e d to represent the three t h e m e s , the results s u g g e s t that proportionally television c o v e r a g e of Whitfield d e m o n s t r a t e d  54  similar t h e m e s a s n e w s p a p e r c o v e r a g e . In both i n s t a n c e s Whitfield's identity a s a C a n a d i a n athlete w h o w o n the gold medal w e r e more frequently cited than other p o s s i b l e t h e m e s or representations, including his c o m m e r c i a l s u c c e s s . T h e results a l s o indicate that the representation of Whitfield a s a n O l y m p i c hero a n d the f o c u s on his c o m m e r c i a l s u c c e s s a s a product e n d o r s e r , w e r e not a s prevalent in m e d i a c o v e r a g e of Whitfield a s originally anticipated. A s d e s c r i b e d in the textual reading, c o v e r a g e of Whitfield d i d , in s o m e c a s e s , position his a c c o m p l i s h m e n t a s heroic a n d s o m e c o v e r a g e f o c u s e d o n his c o m m e r c i a l s u c c e s s , but not nearly a s consistently a s e x p e c t e d .  4.2 Interviews T h e final s a m p l e c o n s i s t e d of Whitfield, five journalists from four major C a n a d i a n daily n e w s p a p e r s a n d four marketing/sales representatives from four (out of a p o s s i b l e five) c o m p a n i e s that had relationships with Whitfield. O f the journalists interviewed, three w e r e m a l e a n d two w e r e f e m a l e . All four of the marketers interviewed w e r e male. T a b l e s 4.2 a n d 4 . 3 d e s c r i b e the interview participants a n d their professional affiliations. T h e interviews took p l a c e between M a y 9, 2 0 0 2 , a n d O c t o b e r 16, 2 0 0 2 , a n d ranged in duration from 30 to 90 minutes. F i v e of the interviews w e r e c o n d u c t e d face-to-face, three of t h e s e in V a n c o u v e r , British C o l u m b i a , a n d o n e e a c h in B u r n a b y , B . C . , a n d Victoria, B . C . T h e s e interviews took p l a c e at the participant's office or h o m e (three) or at a neutral location s u c h a s a coffee s h o p (two). F o u r interviews w e r e c o n d u c t e d o v e r the p h o n e b e c a u s e of the g e o g r a p h i c locations of participants a c r o s s C a n a d a . T h r e e of t h e s e participants w e r e  55  marketing representatives b a s e d at their c o m p a n y ' s h e a d offices in Toronto or M o n t r e a l . T h e other w a s a journalist from a national n e w s p a p e r a l s o b a s e d in Toronto. T h e final interview, with Whitfield, w a s c o n d u c t e d via t e l e p h o n e b e c a u s e Whitfield w a s training in Switzerland at the time. All interviews, both face-to-face a n d by t e l e p h o n e , w e r e audio t a p e d a n d then transcribed into a M S W o r d c o m p u t e r file. D a t a a n a l y s i s software w a s not u s e d . I a n a l y z e d all the interview d a t a by repeatedly reading interview transcripts a n d grouping similar r e s p o n s e s together into t h e m e s . Table 4.2 - S u m m a r y of Journalist Interviews Regular Beat  Journalist #1 Journalist #2  (J-1) (J-2)  Journalist #3  (J-3)  Journalist #4  (J-4)  Sports High School/University Sports Olympic/Amateur Sports News  Journalist #5  (J-5)  News/Sports  Newspaper Type (Weekly Circulation, 2001) Local (523,804) Regional (1,006,882)  Covered Whitfield in Sydney? No No  Regional (1,204,718  Yes  Regional (1,204,718)  No  National (2,057,353)  Yes  Gender  Male Male  Female Male Female  Table 4.3 - S u m m a r y of Marketer Interviews C o m p a n y ' s Relationship with Whitfield Product Endorsement & Sponsorship  Gender  Food Products  Product Endorsement  Male  Bicycles  Sponsorship  Male  Fitness apparel  Sponsorship  Male  Product Marketing Representative (M-1) Marketing Representative (M-2) Marketing Representative (M-3) Marketing Representative (M-4)  Category  S p o r t s Nutrition #1  Male  #2  #3  #4  56  G e n e r a l l y , the C a n a d i a n m e d i a c o v e r a g e of S i m o n Whitfield's O l y m p i c gold m e d a l , a n d the m a n n e r in w h i c h this c o v e r a g e contributed to constructing a positive m e d i a i m a g e of Whitfield, w a s influenced by the p r o f e s s i o n a l , political, a n d p e r s o n a l d e c i s i o n s m a d e by journalists covering the Whitfield story. L i k e w i s e , Whitfield's relative s u c c e s s a s a n e n d o r s e r of c o n s u m e r products w a s d u e in part to the professional a n d strategic d e c i s i o n s m a d e by marketing representatives from the c o m p a n i e s a s s o c i a t e d with him. W h e n a s k e d to c o m m e n t o n the construction of Whitfield's i m a g e in the C a n a d i a n p r e s s , a n d the resulting impact on his marketability, journalists a n d marketers r e s p o n d e d with a c o m p l e x a n d varied range of p e r s p e c t i v e s that o v e r l a p p e d in s o m e a r e a s a n d differed noticeably in others. In m a n y c a s e s , journalists s p o k e k n o w l e d g e a b l y about the marketing function with respect to celebrity athlete e n d o r s e m e n t , a n d marketers s h o w e d a n equally c l e a r understanding of sports m e d i a production. H o w e v e r , p e r s p e c t i v e s o n the factors that influenced the Whitfield c a s e often differed b e t w e e n the two g r o u p s . With regard to particular i s s u e s - s u c h a s Whitfield's g e n u i n e personality a n d m e d i a s a v v y - there a p p e a r e d to be a near c o n s e n s u s a m o n g all r e s p o n d e n t s Qournalists, marketers a n d Whitfield). N e v e r t h e l e s s , the overall pattern of r e s p o n s e s w a s c o m p l e x a n d varied a c r o s s participants a n d the results w e r e not h o m o g e n e o u s . It is a l s o important to note that the complexity a n d subjective nature of the q u e s t i o n s raised in the interviews resulted in r e s p o n s e s that often o v e r l a p p e d a n d inter-wove with other important i s s u e s a n d topics raised during the interview  57  p r o c e s s . Throughout this chapter, t h e m e s are s o m e t i m e s revisited a s they relate to various i s s u e s . T h i s is a n indication of the depth of the d a t a collected through interviews with journalists a n d marketers, a s well a s a reflection of the complexity of factors that influenced Whitfield's c o v e r a g e a n d s u b s e q u e n t s p o n s o r s h i p contracts. I h a v e o r g a n i z e d this section using the key t h e m e s found in the textual a n a l y s i s . I explore the s o c i a l , political, professional a n d ideological i s s u e s identified by the journalists a n d marketers, a n d e x a m i n e , from the interviewees' p e r s p e c t i v e s , how t h e s e factors contributed to the construction of S i m o n Whitfield's m e d i a image a n d the u s e of his image in marketing a n d e n d o r s i n g c o n s u m e r products. A s well, Whitfield's o w n p e r s p e c t i v e s are integrated into the a n a l y s i s to provide a more complete picture of the m e d i a construction a n d marketability of celebrity athletes. S i m o n Whitfield: A C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c Hero T h e results of the textual a n a l y s i s s h o w e d that, in s o m e i n s t a n c e s , S i m o n Whitfield w a s d e s c r i b e d by n e w s p a p e r a n d television journalists a s a C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c hero. T h i s c o v e r a g e w a s a n c h o r e d in a perception of Whitfield a s having exhibited heroic characteristics during his gold m e d a l p e r f o r m a n c e , characteristics that s e p a r a t e d him from other C a n a d i a n s a n d other O l y m p i c athletes a n d m a d e his a c c o m p l i s h m e n t s particularly notable a n d worthy of celebration. D e s p i t e the keyword s e a r c h results that d o w n p l a y e d the c o n s i s t e n c y of the Whitfield-as-hero t h e m e , all five journalists interviewed a c k n o w l e d g e d that  58  Whitfield h a d b e e n portrayed a s a C a n a d i a n hero, a n d that his a c c o m p l i s h m e n t s h a d b e e n positioned a s heroic within the C a n a d i a n m e d i a c o v e r a g e . B o t h journalists a n d marketers a l s o generally a g r e e d that this portrayal had i m p a c t e d his marketability to s o m e d e g r e e . W h e n a s k e d to c o m m e n t o n w h y Whitfield's i m a g e had b e e n constructed this w a y , journalists a n d marketers p r o d u c e d a variety of p e r s p e c t i v e s . T h e interview results d e m o n s t r a t e that the following factors contributed to the mediated construction of Whitfield a s a C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c hero. First, the fact that Whitfield w o n the gold m e d a l d e s p i t e his u n d e r d o g status prior to the O l y m p i c s , w a s cited by three of the five journalists a s an heroic characteristic. Whitfield w a s not favoured to win a gold m e d a l in the triathlon a n d e v e n during the early portions of the event, w h e n he l a n g u i s h e d near the b a c k of the main group of competitors, his c h a n c e s at victory a p p e a r e d minimal. His u n e x p e c t e d d a s h to victory in the r a c e ' s latter s t a g e s , a n d the c o m e - f r o m - b e h i n d m a n n e r in w h i c h he c l a i m e d the victory, g a v e his story a n heroic quality that journalists could easily identify a n d , in turn, e m p l o y in their c o v e r a g e of the event. In other w o r d s , a c c o r d i n g to journalists, the Whitfield story w a s h e i g h t e n e d a n d m a d e more d r a m a t i c b e c a u s e he w a s not e x p e c t e d to win a m e d a l at the S y d n e y O l y m p i c s , let a l o n e c o m e a w a y with the g o l d . " ( H e w a s p o r t r a y e d ) a s a h e r o , a g a i n , b e c a u s e I think h e w a s a n u n d e r d o g . A n d ( C a n a d i a n s ) s e e m to really relish this u n d e r d o g s t a t u s a n d t h e fact that S i m o n c a m e t h r o u g h a little bit u n h e r a l d e d or u n e x p e c t e d - a l t h o u g h h e w a s h a v i n g a v e r y g o o d s e a s o n a n d getting better all the time - t h e fact that h e c a m e t h r o u g h w h e n it really, really c o u n t e d I think C a n a d i a n s really liked that b e c a u s e w e a r e u n d e r d o g s . " (J-3, F e m a l e , R e g i o n a l p a p e r )  59  (  T h e m a n n e r in w h i c h Whitfield captured the gold m e d a l w a s a l s o portrayed a s heroic b e c a u s e it w a s a c c o m p a n i e d by a p e r v a s i v e s e n s e that his i m a g e w a s fresh a n d untainted by o v e r e x p o s u r e or s c a n d a l . Journalists s u g g e s t e d that the surprising m a n n e r in w h i c h he captured the gold b e c a m e a platform from w h i c h Whitfield burst o n to the s c e n e a n d dramatically entered into the collective c o n s c i o u s n e s s of C a n a d i a n sports m e d i a a n d fans. F o u r of the five journalists s a i d that if Whitfield had b e e n e x p e c t e d to win, or had r e c e i v e d significant m e d i a attention prior to winning the gold m e d a l , the c o v e r a g e of the story w o u l d most likely h a v e differed a n d m e d i a c o n s u m e r s ' understanding of Whitfield a s representative of a g e n u i n e C a n a d i a n hero would most likely h a v e b e e n altered. W h e n c o m b i n e d with the perception of him a s a g e n u i n e , friendly, a n d a p p r o a c h a b l e individual, in opposition to the stereotypical s p o i l e d , surly, a n d overpaid c o n t e m p o r a r y (professional) athlete, Whitfield's u n d e r d o g status resulted in a mediated c a n o n i z a t i o n a n d a s e n s e that his a c c o m p l i s h m e n t w a s heroic a n d worthy of celebration within C a n a d i a n sport. "I think for e v e r y b o d y , (the key) w a s the s u r p r i s e of it. J u s t the total s h o c k of it, that n o b o d y e x p e c t e d h i m to w i n , a n d I think the w h o l e f r e s h - f a c e t h i n g . H e w a s a total f r e s h f a c e . A n d n o b o d y h a d e v e r h e a r d of him b e f o r e . S o i n s t e a d of a l w a y s talking a b o u t D o n o v a n B a i l e y , B r u n y S u r i n , that s a m e old s o a p o p e r a , p e o p l e get tired of it, y ' k n o w the h i g h - s t r u n g a m a t e u r athlete, the p r i m a d o n n a s , a n d h e r e w a s a g u y n o b o d y h a d e v e r h e a r d of. A n d h e w a s a n a p p e a l i n g p e r s o n a l i t y , I think that really a p p e a l e d to a lot of p e o p l e , h e w a s the a l l - C a n a d i a n b o y . S o h e h a s his p e r s o n a l i t y , h e w a s f r e s h f a c e d , a n d n o b o d y h a d e v e r h e a r d of h i m b e f o r e . " (J-1, M a l e , L o c a l p a p e r )  T h e journalists cited other factors that a l s o contributed to Whitfield's heroic i m a g e . O n e reporter s u g g e s t e d that the dedication a n d e x h a u s t i v e effort put forth by O l y m p i c athletes towards their training a n d the sacrifices m a d e in the n a m e of  60  sporting s u c c e s s m a d e , in her opinion, all C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c athletes worthy of heroic treatment. " W e l l , I'm p r e - d i s p o s e d to think of all O l y m p i a n s a s h e r o e s , frankly, b e c a u s e ( S y d n e y ) w a s m y e i g h t h . . . O l y m p i c G a m e s g o i n g b a c k to 1 9 7 6 a n d e v e r y time I g o I fall c o m p l e t e l y in l o v e with all of t h e m all o v e r a g a i n . A l t h o u g h , I'm not a s m a r r i e d to the notion that t h e y o u g h t to w i n all the time a s s o m e p e o p l e might b e . (But) I just like the b r e e d . T h e y t e n d to b e the b e s t of y o u n g C a n a d a in m y v i e w . T h e y ' r e d i s c i p l i n e d , a n d a m b i t i o u s a n d they're g l o r i o u s to look at." ( J - 5 , F e m a l e , National paper)  T h i s particular journalist positioned Whitfield, a s well other C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c athletes, a s h e r o e s in the m a n n e r of role m o d e l s , a n d a s s o c i a t e d Whitfield a n d other O l y m p i c athletes with broadly held characteristics of sporting e x c e l l e n c e , n a m e l y hard work, p e r s e v e r a n c e , a n d merit-based a c c o m p l i s h m e n t . T h i s notion of Whitfield's heroic status being g r o u n d e d in his a c c o m p l i s h m e n t a n d athletic performance w a s o n e held by s e v e r a l journalists w h o c o v e r e d his story. In effect, his a c c o m p l i s h m e n t w a s v i e w e d a s heroic in part b e c a u s e he h a d e n g a g e d in a d e m a n d i n g p h y s i c a l activity, confronted a t r e m e n d o u s c h a l l e n g e a n d had o v e r c o m e that c h a l l e n g e to claim a victory. In this s e n s e Whitfield's victory s e p a r a t e d him, in the e y e s of journalists, from other C a n a d i a n celebrities, s u c h a s popular m u s i c i a n s a n d celebrity actors, w h o could not attain heroic status b e c a u s e of a lack of a physical a c c o m p l i s h m e n t . T h e physicality of claiming the gold m e d a l w a s important in the m e d i a ' s perception a n d celebration of Whitfield a s the C a n a d i a n hero. " . . . y o u n e v e r h e a r N e l l y F u r t a d o or D i a n a Krall referred to a s h e r o e s . W e w o u l d n ' t s a y ' C a n a d i a n h e r o D i a n a K r a l l . ' But w e s a y it a b o u t W h i t f i e l d . S o in that s e n s e , it's k i n d of like a s p o r t i n g t e r m . B e c a u s e h e ' s d o n e s o m e t h i n g p h y s i c a l l y , h e b r o u g h t g r e a t pride to (his) country s o y o u ' r e a h e r o . T h a t ' s the w a y that I think the m e d i a m e a n t it a n d the w a y that p e o p l e g e n e r a l l y took it. I think that t h e p h y s i c a l a s p e c t c o m e s into it b e c a u s e h e ' d a c t u a l l y run a n d b e a t g u y s to d o this, h e d e f e a t e d the entire w o r l d to get to the top of the p o d i u m s o  61  that's a n h e r o i c thing. I think that p e o p l e u s e the t e r m h e r o m o r e often in s p o r t s t h a n they w o u l d in e n t e r t a i n m e n t or culture." ( J - 1 , M a l e , L o c a l p a p e r )  Underlying the journalists' p e r s p e c t i v e s of Whitfield a s a C a n a d i a n hero w a s a g e n e r a l c o n s e n s u s that this construction w a s in r e s p o n s e to a p e r c e i v e d e a g e r n e s s a m o n g C a n a d i a n sports f a n s , both d e d i c a t e d a n d c a s u a l , to e m b r a c e a national athletic hero. In this w a y , portraying Whitfield's victory a s heroic w a s a m e a n s of delivering an attractive, positive story to m e d i a a u d i e n c e s . F o r journalists, the hero t h e m e u s e d in the construction of Whitfield w a s understood a s a w a y to create a story a n d a n image that a p p e a l e d to a m a s s C a n a d i a n a u d i e n c e , a m e a n s , in effect, of delivering popular n e w s . " W h y w a s (Whitfield) n e w s w o r t h y ? P e o p l e w e r e i n t e r e s t e d . C a n a d i a n s l o v e a h e r o . I h a t e to put it that w a y . I hate that w h o l e c o n v e n t i o n , a c t u a l l y . But C a n a d i a n s like to h o n o u r s o m e o n e , e s p e c i a l l y at the time of the O l y m p i c s w h e r e the c o u n t r y is a c t u a l l y thirsting for s o m e c o m m o n patriotic s y m b o l . S o h e w a s o n e a n d that's w h y I w e n t (to c o v e r him)." ( J - 4 , M a l e , R e g i o n a l p a p e r ) " E v e r y b o d y w a n t s a h e r o . W e all g o to the m o v i e s to c h e e r for S p i d e r m a n , w e don't g o to c h e e r for the G r e e n G o b l i n . W e d o . I m e a n , w e l o v e the G r e e n G o b l i n but e v e r y b o d y w a n t s to b e t h e h e r o . E v e r y b o d y w a n t s their 1 5 m i n u t e s o f f a m e , a n d (Whitfield w a s ) l o v a b l e b e c a u s e h e ' s totally regular." ( J - 2 , M a l e , R e g i o n a l paper)  T h e hero construction w a s a l s o s e e n a s important or significant in opposition to the s o m e t i m e s overwhelmingly negative n e w s items that often a p p e a r to dominate media coverage. " T h e thing a b o u t n e w s p a p e r s too - a n d I don't think at least for s o m e o n e at m y level that it's a c o n s c i o u s thing - but g o o d n e w s k e e p s p e o p l e h a p p y a n d s e l l s p a p e r s a n d all t h o s e other t h i n g s . A n d t h e s e aren't things that I think of but I k n o w n e w s p a p e r editors think of that. Y ' k n o w n e w s p a p e r e d i t o r s look at the front p a g e a n d g o ' D a m n , a n o t h e r pileup o n the C o q u i h a l l a , m o r e t r o u b l e with the C a n a d i a n A l l i a n c e . . . J e a n C h r e t i e n is off at the m o u t h a g a i n , t h e r e w a s a l m o s t a n u c l e a r w a r . . . O H W O W , t h e r e ' s a h e r o ! ' A n d y o u w a n t to kind of mix it u p o n 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 d o u b t that p l a y e d into (the Whitfield c a s e ) . ' F i n a l l y ! G o o d n e w s ! ' W e ' r e not all b a d , w e d o like printing g o o d n e w s . S o m e t i m e s w e b l o w it out of p r o p o r t i o n . I don't k n o w that W h i t f i e l d w a s b l o w n out of p r o p o r t i o n . I don't think that h e w a s , but I h a v e n ' t d o n e a n analysis." (J-4, Male, Regional paper)  62  Finally, within the overlapping a n d disparate v i e w s regarding the celebration of Whitfield, o n e generally a c c e p t e d perspective e m e r g e d , a s e n s e a m o n g both journalists a n d marketers that the hero i m a g e w a s strongly tied to Whitfield's C a n a d i a n identity. His h e r o i s m w a s positioned a s a n e x t e n s i o n of his i m a g e a s the 'good C a n a d i a n kid,' a n d linked to his p e r c e i v e d willingness to a c c e p t the burden of C a n a d i a n nationalism. "I think it's just a n e x p r e s s i o n of national pride that w e don't get to e x p r e s s a lot of t i m e s s o (the result is to) turn h i m into a h e r o . . . W h e n y o u s a y h e r o , I think it m e a n ' s s o m e o n e w h o ' s d o n e s o m e t h i n g w e l l for C a n a d a , h e w a s a C a n a d i a n h e r o , s o m e o n e w e s h o u l d c o n g r a t u l a t e , not ( n e c e s s a r i l y ) look up to, but a ' w e l l d o n e ' thing." (J-1, M a l e , L o c a l p a p e r ) "I think t h r o u g h s p o r t s , in t e r m s of the O l y m p i c type stuff, w e s e e (sport) a s b e i n g a role for ( C a n a d i a n s ) , right? C a n a d a ' s g o o d b e c a u s e w e l l , w e w o n t h e g o l d m e d a l in h o c k e y . S i m o n Whitfield w o n the g o l d m e d a l a n d (therefore) h e ' s a g r e a t C a n a d i a n , b e c a u s e h e w o n the g o l d m e d a l . I m e a n , that's all w e k n o w : ' H e w o n the g o l d m e d a l , h e m u s t b e good..."'(J-2, M a l e , R e g i o n a l p a p e r )  Whitfield's heroic status w a s d e s c r i b e d by journalists a s d u e , in part, to his ability to e m b r a c e a n d effectively c o n v e y the s t a n c e of a proud C a n a d i a n c h a m p i o n . T h i s resulted in a strong s e n s e a m o n g m e d i a that Whitfield's victory w a s worth celebrating a n d his a c c o m p l i s h m e n t heroic s i n c e it w a s a n a c h i e v e m e n t o n behalf of C a n a d a a n d C a n a d i a n s . " A s I r e c a l l of W h i t f i e l d , h e w a s kind of t h e t y p i c a l C a n a d i a n h e r o , at l e a s t h e fit into the c l i c h e of the typical C a n a d i a n h e r o : s o f t - s p o k e n , intelligent, y o u n g , g o o d l o o k i n g g u y . M i d d l e - c l a s s (or) u p p e r m i d d l e - c l a s s . I don't k n o w his b a c k g r o u n d but h e kind of g a v e that.. .he just fit into s o m a n y kind of C a n a d i a n s t e r e o t y p e s or c l i c h e s . H e w a s a n i c e g u y or at least that's w h a t e v e r y b o d y h a d h e a r d , a n d e v e r y o n e h a d s e e n h i m i n t e r v i e w e d . " (J-4, M a l e , R e g i o n a l p a p e r )  P a r a d o x i c a l l y , while all five journalists a n d three of the four marketers r e c o g n i z e d a n d a c k n o w l e d g e d the m e d i a construction of Whitfield's gold m e d a l  63  victory a s heroic, a n d c o m m e n t e d k n o w l e d g e a b l y o n the factors that influenced this c o v e r a g e , two of the journalists a n d o n e marketer a l s o e x p r e s s e d personal discomfort with the c o n c e p t of Whitfield, or other athletes, a s heroic or representative of C a n a d i a n h e r o e s . T h u s , with respect to the hero t h e m e , there w e r e dissenting v o i c e s a m o n g s t both groups of interviewees, in the s e n s e of questioning w h e t h e r or not the construction of Whitfield a s a hero b a s e d exclusively o n his sporting performance w a s justified or e v e n positive. " W e l l , I think e v e r y o n e u s e d (the hero) in their c o v e r a g e . (But) I don't e v e n k n o w w h a t that m e a n s in that context. T o m e a h e r o is s o m e o n e r u s h i n g into a b u r n i n g building a n d taking s o m e o n e out but C a n a d i a n h e r o , in this c o n t e x t , I think it's just a n e x p r e s s i o n of n a t i o n a l pride c o m i n g out. H e ' s a h e r o . I m e a n y o u c a n ' t c o m p a r e it to a g u y g o i n g off to w a r a n d d y i n g like t h o s e four p e o p l e . I think it's just a n e x p r e s s i o n of n a t i o n a l pride that w e don't get to e x p r e s s a lot of times..."(J-1, Male, Local paper)  B e y o n d personal discomfort, another journalist a l s o q u e s t i o n e d his professional participation in the construction of Whitfield a s a hero. F o r this reporter, discomfort w a s represented through a problematic s e n s e of c o m p l i a n c e in the m e d i a production p r o c e s s . " M e d i a , w e m a n u f a c t u r e h e r o e s . O r w e ' r e a really important part in t h e p r o c e s s . W e d o m a k e p e o p l e into h e r o e s s o m e t i m e s . I don't think I've e v e r d o n e that p e r s o n a l l y , I don't think I'd w a n t to. But t h e r e ' s n o q u e s t i o n that the p r e s s d o t h a t . . . w e ' r e a part of the m a c h i n e r y a n d that's the w a y it g o e s . " (J-2, M a l e , Regional paper)  F o r the journalists w h o e x p r e s s e d personal a n d professional discomfort with the construction of Whitfield's heroic image b a s e d solely o n his gold m e d a l victory, their r e s p o n s e w a s to include a n d highlight other i m a g e s a n d m e a n i n g s in their stories about Whitfield, in a n attempt to create a more c o m p l e t e (positive) i m a g e . T h u s , other positive Whitfield traits - personality, s p e a k i n g ability, patriotic  64  e m b r a c e , sincerity - w e r e a l s o included in the m e d i a c o v e r a g e , a n d d o n e s o in a n attempt to create, in t h e s e journalists' view, a more c o m p l e t e heroic form. G e n e r a l l y , marketers s e e m e d less willing or able to try a n d explain or a c c o u n t for the construction of Whitfield's heroic i m a g e a n d , similar to the journalists previously d e s c r i b e d , e x p r e s s e d p e r s o n a l reservations in a c k n o w l e d g i n g the canonization of Whitfield a s a positive s o c i a l c o n v e n t i o n . "If y o u s p e n d s o m e time with him or y o u s e e w h a t h e ' s i n v o l v e d in often it's to d o with c h i l d r e n a n d kids a n d p o s i t i v e s s o w e liked him m o r e in that s e n s e , m a y b e not s o m u c h a s a h e r o b e c a u s e of w h a t h e did o n the sporting field - I'm a little reticent a b o u t the w o r d ' h e r o ' in s p o r t s - but just like w h a t h e w a s a s a p e r s o n a n d that kind of t h i n g . S o I think, y e s a s e n s e of pride a s s o m e o n e w h o s p e a k s w e l l a n d is o b v i o u s l y e d u c a t e d a n d y o u ' r e p r o u d to h a v e that kind of athlete r e p r e s e n t i n g C a n a d a . Not s o m u c h the h e r o but m o r e pride in 'aren't w e l u c k y to h a v e a n athlete like t h a t . . . p e r f o r m i n g w e l l for C a n a d a a n d t h e n s p e a k i n g (for o u r c o m p a n y ) ? ' " (M-1, M a l e , S p o r t s nutrition)  H o w e v e r , three of the four marketers w e r e c l e a r that Whitfield's heroic i m a g e w a s important a n d in the e n d , potentially culturally influential, in that it contributed to a mix of positive m e a n i n g s that, w h e n attached to Whitfield, m a d e him a s u c c e s s f u l product endorser. F o r t h e s e marketers, the hero i m a g e w a s a factor in s u c c e s s f u l l y marketing Whitfield a n d using a s s o c i a t i o n s with him to i n c r e a s e the equity of their brands. "I think that his i m a g e b e i n g v e r y c l e a n a n d v e r y youthful a n d e x u b e r a n t , a n d the things I d e s c r i b e d a l r e a d y w e r e k e y in m a k i n g h i m c o m p a t i b l e with w h a t o u r b r a n d s r e p r e s e n t . But I think the w a y that h e w a s p o r t r a y e d a s s o m e w h a t of a h e r o , a n d s o m e w h a t of a h a r d - w o r k e r (who d i s p l a y e d ) p e r s e v e r a n c e , a n d all t h o s e t y p e s of t h i n g s , o n c e a g a i n directly related to w h a t w e w e r e trying to c o m m u n i c a t e with o u r a s s o c i a t i o n with h i m . S o , I think that t h e w a y that (the m e d i a ) p o r t r a y e d h i m in t h o s e f a s h i o n s w a s v e r y a p p l i c a b l e to w h a t w a s important to u s . " ( M - 2 , M a l e , F o o d p r o d u c t s )  F o r his part, Whitfield e x p r e s s e d s o m e discomfort with the hero construction a n d d o w n p l a y e d its importance. H e s u g g e s t e d that the heroic portrayals of his a c c o m p l i s h m e n t constituted a rare form of m e d i a attention  65  particularly for a n a m a t e u r athlete a n d that he understood that this type of c o v e r a g e w a s temporally limited. " T h e C a n a d i a n hero...I don't k n o w , I've s a i d it quite a f e w t i m e s , that I h a d 15 m i n u t e s of f a m e a n d I've u s e d 14 m i n u t e s a n d 3 0 s e c o n d s of it. S o . . . t o b e p o r t r a y e d that w a y for the brief a m o u n t of time that the m e d i a s e e m e d to f o c u s o n a m a t e u r athletics w a s a n interesting e x p e r i e n c e . B u t . . . i t ' s not s o m e t h i n g y o u train for or y o u ' r e r e a d y for. Y o u just kind of roll a l o n g with it." ( S i m o n Whitfield)  Whitfield's C a n a d i a n Identity R e s u l t s of the textual reading a n d keyword s e a r c h indicated that Whitfield's representation w a s strongly tied to his C a n a d i a n heritage a n d s u b s e q u e n t l y , his identity a s a C a n a d i a n b e c a m e a n important t h e m e in the construction of his mediated i m a g e . Interviews with journalists a n d marketers provided a variety of r e s p o n s e s a n d viewpoints a s to the e l e m e n t s that m a d e up Whitfield's C a n a d i a n identity, the importance of his C a n a d i a n - n e s s within the m e d i a c o v e r a g e , a n d the role that his national ties played in t e r m s of reporting a n d marketing strategies. C l e a r l y , though, journalists a n d marketers involved with Whitfield p e r c e i v e d a strong connection between his m e d i a i m a g e , his status a s a gold m e d a l w i n n e r a n d his C a n a d i a n identity. Interview results r e v e a l e d s e v e r a l key factors that framed the representations of Whitfield's C a n a d i a n - n e s s a n d the m a n n e r in w h i c h his national identity w a s incorporated into n e w s p a p e r stories a n d marketing strategies. First, all five journalists s h a r e d the view that Whitfield's a c c o m p l i s h m e n t w a s important in that it resonated with the a v e r a g e C a n a d i a n , particularly in r e s p o n s e to a p e r c e i v e d C a n a d i a n inferiority c o m p l e x in relation to the United S t a t e s . In this s e n s e , Whitfield w a s positioned by journalists a s a representation  66  or a n affirmation of C a n a d i a n s u c c e s s , o n e to be s h a r e d a n d celebrated within the collective national p s y c h e . A c c o r d i n g to journalists, Whitfield's gold m e d a l victory a s a C a n a d i a n created a s e n s e of c o n f i d e n c e within the country a s to C a n a d a ' s ability to c o m p e t e a n d s u c c e e d internationally, a n d a l s o contributed t o w a r d s forging a n identity of separation from the U . S . "I think m o r e t h a n A m e r i c a n s , C a n a d i a n s really get into the O l y m p i c s , a n d w e s a w that a g a i n in S y d n e y , t h e r e ' s a real s e n s e of pride. B e c a u s e it's o n e of the f e w t i m e s w h e n w e c a n s a y w e ' r e not A m e r i c a n , right? W e c a n h a v e a n a c c o m p l i s h m e n t w h e r e p e o p l e s a y , ' O h , it's C a n a d a ' a s o p p o s e d to b e i n g l u m p e d into a N o r t h A m e r i c a n g l o b that m o s t p e o p l e think of." (J-1, M a l e , L o c a l paper) " Y e a h , a g a i n h e r e ' s a g u y w h o really c a m e t h r o u g h . C a n a d a ' s this u n d e r d o g n a t i o n , w e s e e o u r s e l v e s a s this little brother to the S t a t e s , ' G e e z , w e ' r e just p o o r little C a n a d a . ' H e r e ' s this little g u y w i n n i n g s o m e e v e n t w e really don't k n o w that m u c h a b o u t . I'm willing to bet that if y o u s u r v e y e d ( C a n a d i a n ) p e o p l e a b o u t w h a t h e d i d , a s far a s d i s t a n c e s a n d t i m e s a n d things like that, n o o n e w o u l d r e a l l y k n o w , but h e r e w e a r e ( c e l e b r a t i n g his a c c o m p l i s h m e n t ) . " ( J - 2 , M a l e , R e g i o n a l paper)  Whitfield w a s s e e n by journalists to have t o u c h e d a collective s e n s e of C a n a d i a n pride, heightening the importance of his a c c o m p l i s h m e n t , a n d i n c r e a s i n g the n e w s w o r t h i n e s s of his story. T h i s p e r c e i v e d s e n s e of national pride then w a s incorporated by journalists into their c o v e r a g e of Whitfield's gold m e d a l . In a similar v e i n , journalists c o m m e n t e d on the m a n n e r in w h i c h Whitfield w o n the m e n ' s triathlon a s being quintessentially C a n a d i a n . F o r o n e journalist in particular, the c o m e - f r o m - b e h i n d victory, c o m b i n e d with his understated a n d polite d e m e a n o r , a n d his g r a c i o u s n e s s in accepting the gold all contributed to the i m a g e of Whitfield a s a C a n a d i a n icon, a representation of the k e y e l e m e n t s of C a n a d i a n culture. " B u t y ' k n o w , 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 w a s n ' t e x p e c t e d to w i n , e v e r y o n e ' s l o o k i n g at t h e s e other g u y s a n d h e c o m e s a l o n g a n d d o e s it sort of out of the b l u e . A n d h e w a s s o thrilled, his w h o l e m a n n e r i s m w a s  67  just s o . . . t h e r e w a s n ' t a n y of that b o m b a s t i c j i n g o i s t k i n d of stuff. It w a s a real g e n u i n e thrill that h e h a d d o n e this, a n d I think w e w e r e a l s o s a y i n g ' O h , h e ' s s o C a n a d i a n , isn't that g r e a t ? ' " (J-3, F e m a l e , R e g i o n a l p a p e r )  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 r u c k by that, not m o r e l o w k e y , but the m o r e h u m b l e C a n a d i a n a s p e c t of his victory a n d his d e m e a n o u r . A s o p p o s e d to that - o h b o y I'm g o i n g to g e t in t r o u b l e h e r e - h e w a s n ' t A m e r i c a n , O K ? ' Y e a h , w e w o n , w e k i c k e d butt!', h e w a s n ' t like that at a l l . A n d it w a s really s a t i s f y i n g to s e e it c o m e t h r o u g h like that." (J-3, F e m a l e , R e g i o n a l p a p e r )  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 t h e g o o d thing a b o u t s p o r t s ; it c a n really bring p e o p l e t o g e t h e r . H o w often a r e w e d i s a p p o i n t e d to b e C a n a d i a n or not p r o u d to b e C a n a d i a n ? H o w often d o w e l o o k at the S t a t e s a n d t h e y ' r e w a v i n g the f l a g a n d stuff like that a n d w e g o , ' G e e z that's w r o n g , w e ' r e not like that'. B u t h o c k e y w i n s a n d p e o p l e a r e d r i v i n g d o w n the s t r e e t s w a v i n g their f l a g s , it's s o m e t h i n g that y o u a n d I a n d h e r (sic) c a n rally a r o u n d . S i m o n W h i t f i e l d is o u r g u y . H e w o n t h e m e d a l . " (J-2, M a l e , R e g i o n a l p a p e r )  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 e m u l a t e d a s representative of the positive e l e m e n t s of y o u n g C a n a d i a n s . Similar to the hero construct, journalists f o c u s e d the Whitfield story on his C a n a d i a n identity, a n d then u s e d that identity to m o d e l his a c c o m p l i s h m e n t s a s representative of a new, s u c c e s s f u l generation of C a n a d i a n s . Journalists s a w Whitfield not only a s a representative of C a n a d i a n identity, but p e r h a p s more importantly, a s a positive  e x a m p l e of C a n a d i a n identity, a national identity that  s h o u l d be c e l e b r a t e d within the construction of his mediated i m a g e . Journalists a l s o d e s c r i b e d the attention paid to Whitfield's C a n a d i a n identity, from a professional standpoint, a s a n e c e s s a r y a n d interesting part of the story. O n e journalist d o w n p l a y e d the notion that Whitfield's C a n a d i a n - n e s s w a s s e n s a t i o n a l i z e d in order to construct a more dramatic story, but stated that, in her opinion, Whitfield's national identity a n d pride e m e r g e d a s a story angle that s h e c h o s e to include in the c o v e r a g e of the event. "(Whitfield's g o l d m e d a l victory) w a s a n e m o t i o n a l m o m e n t . T h e r e a r e v e r y f e w t i m e s w h e n I h e a r the national a n t h e m in the c o u r s e of m y life. I m e a n , o n e of t h e m w o u l d b e at a h o c k e y g a m e a n d the other w o u l d b e at a n O l y m p i c G a m e s , if I'm l u c k y . A n d I find it thrilling a n d I find it part of the story, a b s o l u t e l y . I d o n ' t think I w a s trying to e x a g g e r a t e his C a n a d i a n - n e s s . . . b u t I think a l s o that h e s t r u c k m e a s a pretty g o o d C a n a d i a n k i d . " (J-5, F e m a l e , N a t i o n a l p a p e r )  F o r his part, Whitfield d o w n p l a y e d the f o c u s on his national identity, in a similar f a s h i o n to the heroic a c c o l a d e s tied to his m e d i a i m a g e . Whitfield s u g g e s t e d that his c o m m e n t s in the m e d i a about his ties to C a n a d a , particularly with regard to his Australian identity , had b e e n significantly s p u n , a n d e v e n 2  s e n s a t i o n a l i z e d , through m e d i a c o v e r a g e .  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. 2  69  " N o , y o u k n o w , a c t u a l l y , I think the m e d i a took it a s a patriotic t h i n g , (but) I didn't p l a n it to c o m e a c r o s s a s a patriotic thing. I w a s just a s k e d m y o p i n i o n o n ' W e l l , w h a t d o y o u think, y o u h a v e a n A u s t r a l i a n p a s s p o r t , y o u c o u l d r a c e for A u s t r a l i a , w h y d o y o u r a c e for C a n a d a ? ' S o I a n s w e r e d the q u e s t i o n quite h o n e s t l y . ' W e l l , I l o v e C a n a d a . I l o v e w h e r e I live in C a n a d a , I'd n e v e r live a n y w h e r e e l s e . It just suits m e . H o m e is w h e r e the heart is.' W h i c h is true. S o I just a n s w e r e d t h e q u e s t i o n , (the m e d i a ) took the s k i n off it (in the w a y ) that t h e y p e r c e i v e d (my r e s p o n s e ) a n d I got c a s t , w e l l p o r t r a y e d , a s v e r y patriotic. A n d I a m , but I didn't intentionally g o a b o u t thinking ' W e l l s h o o t , I w a n t to c o m e a c r o s s a s b e i n g p a t r i o t i c ' I just a n s w e r e d t h e q u e s t i o n a n d it w e n t f r o m there." ( S i m o n Whitfield)  In Whitfield's o p i n i o n , the f o c u s on his C a n a d i a n identity, e s p e c i a l l y in opposition to his A u s t r a l i a n ties, w a s c o n n e c t e d by journalists to his being a C a n a d i a n nationalist in w a y s that he did not anticipate b a s e d o n his interview r e s p o n s e s . T h e r e w a s a similar perception of Whitfield's C a n a d i a n identity a m o n g marketers a n d s p o n s o r s , although this group did not s p e a k a s directly to the i m a g e of Whitfield a s a quintessential C a n a d i a n or positive national role m o d e l . T w o of the four marketers c o n s i d e r e d Whitfield's C a n a d i a n identity to be, like the hero, o n e of s e v e r a l factors that contributed to the clearly positive m e d i a c o v e r a g e that Whitfield received after winning the gold m e d a l . His C a n a d i a n identity w a s a l s o , for the majority of marketers, another important e l e m e n t in the larger mix of m e a n i n g s that influenced his image a n d c o m m e r c i a l v a l u e . Whitfield's C a n a d i a n identity w a s , to varying d e g r e e s , a cultural c o d e that marketers r e c o g n i z e d a s strengthening positive a s s o c i a t i o n s a n d brand equity. " T h e m e d i a c o v e r a g e w a s v e r y g o o d o b v i o u s l y , they l o v e d S i m o n , I think C a n a d i a n m e d i a a l w a y s l o v e s a w i n n e r in C a n a d a . W e don't h a v e t h e m a s a d i m e a d o z e n a n d t h e o n e s that w e d o h a v e I think a r e a m b a s s a d o r s for o u r c o u n t r y . T h e y h a v e b e e n in the p a s t (and) will b e in the future." (M-3, M a l e , Bicycle)  Interviews with marketers a l s o revealed that Whitfield's C a n a d i a n identity w a s integrated into marketing strategies in a variety of w a y s d e p e n d i n g on the  70  specific g o a l s a n d marketing p r o g r a m s of the c o m p a n y . F o r e x a m p l e , o n e c o m p a n y d e v e l o p e d a relationship with Whitfield a s a continuation of previous marketing relationships with C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c athletes a n d the C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c A s s o c i a t i o n . T h e s e relationships had b e e n u s e d to d e v e l o p brand equity by linking healthy a n d active i m a g e s of C a n a d i a n athletes to the c o m p a n y ' s products. In this instance, Whitfield's national identity a n d its construction a n d reinforcement through the m e d i a , fit in well with the marketing strategy already in place. " Y e a h , I think that (our b r a n d ' s C a n a d i a n identity) w a s in e x i s t e n c e a l r e a d y just b e c a u s e , a s I m e n t i o n e d earlier, (Whitfield) w a s part of a n O l y m p i c p r o g r a m (that) w e a l r e a d y ( h a d in p l a c e ) . . . s o that h e r i t a g e of C a n a d i a n a , a n d the p r i d e , h a s a l r e a d y b e e n s e e n t h r o u g h o u r entire O l y m p i c p r o g r a m a n d with o t h e r a t h l e t e s a n d a s a g e n e r i c with the p r o g r a m b e f o r e S i m o n b e c a u s e w e ran the s a m e t y p e of p r o g r a m in ' 9 8 a s w e l 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 r o u n d h i m s p e c i f i c a l l y ( w a s c r u c i a l ) , I think h e r e f l e c t e d , h e a c t u a l l y m o r e fit into o u r p i e c e of, a s I m e n t i o n e d , the pride of b e i n g O l y m p i c . " ( M - 2 , M a l e , F o o d products)  T h i s contrasted sharply with another s p o n s o r i n g c o m p a n y - a m u c h s m a l l e r c o m p a n y - that had no prior O l y m p i c connection a n d no prior marketing strategy b a s e d o n C a n a d i a n identity in w h i c h to incorporate Whitfield. In this i n s t a n c e , the positioning of Whitfield a s a patriotic icon w a s effective b e c a u s e it w a s s e e n a s a w a y to attach n e w a n d positive i m a g e s to a relatively y o u n g b r a n d . G e n e r a l l y , then, the f o c u s o n Whitfield's C a n a d i a n identity within the C a n a d i a n m a s s m e d i a w a s v i e w e d by journalists a s a m e a n s by w h i c h to c o n n e c t with C a n a d i a n m e d i a c o n s u m e r s a n d a s a m e a n s of m a k i n g the Whitfield story more a p p e a l i n g to the m a s s C a n a d i a n m e d i a a u d i e n c e . F o r marketers, on the other h a n d , Whitfield's C a n a d i a n identity w a s a r e c o g n i z a b l e  71  e l e m e n t of the positive m e d i a c o v e r a g e that he received but just o n e part of the larger mix of m e a n i n g s that m a d e Whitfield a n attractive e n d o r s e r or s p o n s e e . T h e O l y m p i c G o l d Medallist W h e n c o m b i n i n g the results of the textual a n a l y s i s with t h o s e of the interviews, S i m o n Whitfield's gold m e d a l victory heavily influenced the c o v e r a g e he received in the C a n a d i a n m e d i a a n d b e c a m e a primary t h e m e in the construction of his m e d i a i m a g e . All five journalists a n d all four marketers interviewed r e c o g n i z e d that the gold medal had influenced his m e d i a i m a g e a n d marketability to s o m e d e g r e e . Within this general c o n s e n s u s , journalists e x p r e s s e d a variety of p e r s p e c t i v e s regarding the d e g r e e to w h i c h the gold m e d a l influenced the c o v e r a g e of Whitfield a n d marketers offered different v i e w s with regard to the importance of the gold medal in d e v e l o p i n g a n d implementing their strategies. H o w e v e r , overall, the gold m e d a l w a s d e e m e d to be a significant a d v a n t a g e in the marketing of Whitfield's m e d i a i m a g e . F o r journalists, the gold m e d a l elevated Whitfield to a status a n d i m a g e that w o u l d h a v e b e e n otherwise unattainable within C a n a d i a n sports m e d i a . A c c o r d i n g to all five journalists, Whitfield w a s transformed from a relatively u n k n o w n a m a t e u r athlete to a major a m a t e u r sports personality d u e in the largest part to winning the gold m e d a l . "...it w a s a g e n u i n e l y great p e r f o r m a n c e . I m e a n , C a n a d i a n s w i n s o f e w g o l d m e d a l s , I m e a n w h e n y o u look o v e r a l l at the O l y m p i c s , w e d o w i n m e d a l s a n d g o l d m e d a l s but it's not like the S t a t e s w h e r e it's a l m o s t e x p e c t e d e s p e c i a l l y in the S u m m e r O l y m p i c s . S o I think a n y g o l d m e d a l p r o p e l s y o u to a c e r t a i n s t a t u s b e c a u s e it is a fairly rare o c c u r r e n c e e s p e c i a l l y at a S u m m e r O l y m p i c s . It w o u l d n ' t h a v e b e e n a s g o o d a story (without the g o l d m e d a l ) . F o u r t h is a l w a y s the w o r s t p o s i t i o n to c o m e b e c a u s e it might h a v e b e e n his b e s t finish a n d certainly s a t i s f y i n g for h i m , but it's not a m e d a l . " (J-3, F e m a l e , R e g i o n a l p a p e r )  72  "I think it (the g o l d m e d a l ) w a s h u g e . I think that if h e didn't w i n , if it w a s a fourth p l a c e , or a s i l v e r m e d a l . . . ( h e might h a v e ) got a little bit of p r e s s , but (not) a n y of t h e b i g s p o n s o r s h i p d e a l s . E v e r y b o d y w a n t s to b e a t t a c h e d to a w i n n e r , b e it f a n s , b e it a n y b o d y . E v e r y b o d y r e m e m b e r s first p l a c e . " (J-2, M a l e , R e g i o n a l paper)  T h e r e w a s a c o n s e n s u s a m o n g the journalists interviewed that the quality of the Whitfield story - the hook, the d r a m a , the p e r c e i v e d a u d i e n c e interest - w a s significantly heightened by the gold m e d a l a c h i e v e m e n t . In fact, immediately following the m e n ' s triathlon, the Whitfield story took p r e c e d e n c e o v e r all others for C a n a d i a n journalists working in S y d n e y . T w o journalists related a n e c d o t e s of having to quickly adjust their a s s i g n m e n t s c h e d u l e s at the S y d n e y O l y m p i c s from their original beat in order to f o c u s o n Whitfield, d u e to a professional understanding that covering Whitfield b e c a m e a priority o n c e he h a d w o n the gold m e d a l . All five journalists a l s o a g r e e d that at least part of the e m p h a s i s o n Whitfield's gold m e d a l performance s t e m m e d from the fact that it w a s the first C a n a d i a n m e d a l of a n y kind at the S y d n e y G a m e s a n d therefore carried greater significance. J o u r n a l i s t s s u g g e s t e d that Whitfield's victory i n v o k e d a s e n s e of relief a m o n g a variety of s t a k e h o l d e r s - athletes, f a n s , journalists, C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c staff - a n d e a s e d the burden of recent d i s a p p o i n t m e n t s , particularly the previous d a y in the w o m e n ' s triathlon w h e n C a n a d i a n m e d a l hopefuls C a r o l M o n t g o m e r y a n d S h a r o n Donnelly c r a s h e d during the bike s t a g e a n d did not finish. T h i s s e n s e of relief only heightened the importance of c o v e r i n g Whitfield for C a n a d i a n s sports journalists.  " T h e r e w a s that kind of t r e m e n d o u s , a s I r e m e m b e r it, s i g h of r e l i e f . . . b e c a u s e y o u k n o w , I'm not a patriotic g u y (but) e v e n t h e n y o u kind of look a n d n e w s p a p e r s a r e  73  totaling all the c o u n t r i e s that got g o l d m e d a l s . C a n a d a - Z e r o ' O h w e really s u c k ! ' S o w h e n h e w o n , e v e r y o n e kind of s a i d ' T h a n k G o d ! W e ' r e not a s b a d a s w e like to think w e a r e . ' " (J-4, M a l e , R e g i o n a l p a p e r ) " ( W h i t f i e l d ' s g o l d m e d a l ) w a s h u g e b e c a u s e it c a m e e a r l y o n in t h e g a m e s , it really s e t the t o n e for a g r e a t g a m e s . " (J-3, F e m a l e , R e g i o n a l p a p e r )  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 Olympics . The scarcity of gold medals 3  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  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. 3  74  g a m e s - a s well a s the previous failure of other C a n a d i a n athletes to win gold medals. " S o it w a s a great relief a s w e l l for C a n a d i a n s w h o c a r e a b o u t t h e s e t h i n g s . ' T h a n k g o d , w e finally w o n s o m e t h i n g . ' A n d it couldn't h a v e h a p p e n e d to a better g u y ; that w a s t h e s e n t i m e n t that w a s out there." (J-4, M a l e , R e g i o n a l p a p e r ) " O h y e a h , definitely. I think that a n y C a n a d i a n g o l d m e d a l is h u g e in C a n a d a . I m e a n , w e o n l y w o n three in S y d n e y , s o a n y g o l d m e d a l is important." ( J - 1 , M a l e , Local paper) " W e don't w i n m a n y m e d a l s in C a n a d a s o they s t a n d out, y ' k n o w ? " ( J - 5 , F e m a l e , National paper)  A t the s a m e time, o n e journalist w a s uncomfortable with the implication that the importance of the gold medal w a s a m e d i a construction, o n e d e s i g n e d to s e r v e a particular a g e n d a . T h i s reporter w a s clear that in her opinion the e m p h a s i s or importance p l a c e d on Whitfield's gold m e d a l w a s not simply a product of m e d i a ideology. Rather, s h e felt that winning m e d a l s is important to athletes, f a n s , a n d s p o n s o r s , a s well a s journalists a n d editors, a n d therefore Whitfield's gold m e d a l b e c a m e a n important topic in sports reporting that targeted a Canadian audience. " S u r e , I m e a n it's a l w a y s important w h e n s o m e o n e w i n s g o l d b e c a u s e it's s o h a r d to w i n . I m e a n . . . i t ' s a h e a r t b e a t that s e p a r a t e s the first f r o m t h e fourth s o if s o m e b o d y m a n a g e s to d o it, then I m e a n it's w o r t h y of c e l e b r a t i o n for t h e m . A n d I don't think it's s o m e m e d i a c r e a t i o n that g o l d m e d a l s a r e important, t h e y ' r e v e r y important to the a t h l e t e s too." ( J - 5 , F e m a l e , N a t i o n a l p a p e r )  Interestingly, the s a m e journalist a l s o s u g g e s t e d that r e s e a r c h i n g a n d producing a story focusing on a gold medal winner s u c h a s Whitfield m a d e for relatively straight-forward sports reporting b e c a u s e of the inherent story lines a n d dramatic a n g l e s that could be identified a n d elaborated o n . In fact, a c c o r d i n g to this journalist, the gold m e d a l - w i n n e r a n d the tragic non-finisher (such a s the aforementioned M o n t g o m e r y ) m a k e for the e a s i e s t stories for reporters a n d the  75  most a c c e s s i b l e w a y to meet d e a d l i n e s in what is invariably a high-stress environment for sports reporters. " A s a reporter it's n i c e to h a v e a c l e a r - c u t e n d i n g a n d t h e r e ' s n o t h i n g a s c l e a r cut a s either a g o l d m e d a l or s o m e b o d y that falls off their b i k e . Y o u k n o w w h a t I m e a n ? It m a k e s the j o b e a s i e r , I'm a f r a i d , for u s if y o u don't h a v e to s e a r c h for g o o d q u o t e s . Y o u k n o w , s e c o n d a n d third a r e w o n d e r f u l f i n i s h e s , t h e y ' r e w o n d e r f u l m e d a l s , I'm not d i m i n i s h i n g t h e m , but the O l y m p i c s is a l s o a p r e s s u r e c o o k e r for writers, w e ' r e r u n n i n g a r o u n d trying to figure out the b e s t story a n d find out w h o w o n a n d . . . s o m e t i m e s the e a s i e s t q u o t e is the o n e w e ' r e d r a w n to, a n d y o u find that with the g o l d m e d a l . " (J-5, F e m a l e , N a t i o n a l p a p e r )  In this s e n s e , Whitfield's gold m e d a l s e p a r a t e d him from other athletes in the e y e s of s o m e journalists a n d his m e d i a c o v e r a g e benefited from this s e p a r a t i o n . W h e n given the opportunity, reporters w e r e more likely to be d r a w n to a gold m e d a l story in order to p r o d u c e c o p y on a short d e a d l i n e . F o r all five journalists, there w a s a l s o a c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n Whitfield's gold m e d a l a n d his C a n a d i a n identity, the t h e m e previously e x p l o r e d . T h e gold m e d a l w a s significant in the s e n s e that it w a s p e r c e i v e d a s a n a c c o m p l i s h m e n t c o m p l e t e d by Whitfield but d o n e s o o n behalf of all of C a n a d a . Whitfield's a c c o m p l i s h m e n t w a s newsworthy b e c a u s e of the perception that he h a d c l a i m e d victory for the entire nation. C l e a r l y , this contributed to the narrative of h e r o i s m a n d a l s o i n c r e a s e d the importance of covering his story for C a n a d i a n a u d i e n c e s . Not surprisingly, the journalists interviewed s h a r e d a g e n e r a l s e n s e that the Whitfield story w o u l d h a v e b e e n significantly different if he h a d w o n a silver m e d a l a s o p p o s e d to gold. If Whitfield had failed to win a m e d a l at all, the c o v e r a g e afforded him would h a v e b e e n minimal in the e y e s of the journalists c o v e r i n g his victory. " W e l l , I think t h e r e w e r e a lot of p e o p l e that f i n i s h e d fourth in t h e O l y m p i c s , C a n a d i a n a t h l e t e s . I can't n a m e o n e of t h e m . If y o u don't r a n k . . . I m e a n , w h e n  76  y o u rank y o u get a lot m o r e attention. T h a t ' 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 h e h a d h a v e w o n b r o n z e , it p r o b a b l y w o u l d n ' t h a v e b e e n a s big a d e a l . " (J-4, M a l e , R e g i o n a l p a p e r ) " E v e n if h e ' d w o n a s i l v e r ( m e d a l ) p e o p l e w o u l d h a v e k n o w n a b o u t h i m but h e w o u l d n ' t b e ' S i m o n W h i t f i e l d the p e r s o n a l i t y . ' H e ' d just b e the s i l v e r m e d a l w i n n e r , ' O h , g o o d o n h i m . ' P e o p l e w o u l d k n o w a b o u t h i m but h e w o u l d n ' t b e the m a j o r a m a t e u r s p o r t p e r s o n a l i t y that h e is. A n d if h e h a d n ' t w o n a m e d a l at a l l , n o b o d y w o u l d e v e n k n o w a b o u t h i m other t h a n the fact that h e w a s a n O l y m p i a n . P e o p l e in t h e triathlon c i r c l e s w o u l d k n o w but b e y o n d that n o b o d y w o u l d put h i m o n a ( c e r e a l ) b o x . T h a t ' s interesting, it's that g o l d m e d a l c o m b i n e d with his p e r s o n a l i t y that m a d e it all p o s s i b l e for h i m . " (J-1, M a l e , L o c a l p a p e r )  A s for marketers a n d s p o n s o r s involved with Whitfield, there w a s a similar s e n s e of the importance p l a c e d on the gold m e d a l p e r f o r m a n c e . T h e gold w a s important first a n d foremost b e c a u s e of the positive p r e s s that it afforded Whitfield a n d , in turn, the positive p r e s s that his s p o n s o r i n g c o m p a n i e s r e c e i v e d . T h i s w a s clearly most important for t h o s e c o m p a n i e s that h a d relationships with Whitfield prior to his g o l d - m e d a l victory in S y d n e y . F o r t h o s e c o m p a n i e s , e s p e c i a l l y t h o s e w h o s e products are d e s i g n e d for athletic u s e , the gold m e d a l s e r v e d a s proof or affirmation of the quality of the product(s). T h i s relationship b e t w e e n the gold m e d a l a n d product performance w a s incorporated into the strategic branding of the product to take a d v a n t a g e of the positive m e d i a c o v e r a g e a n d the a s s o c i a t i o n s b e t w e e n the brand a n d the gold m e d a l performance. " Y e a h I think (the Whitfield relationship) p r o b a b l y w o u l d ( h a v e b e e n different without the g o l d m e d a l ) . Y o u d o n e e d s o m e p e r f o r m a n c e right? Y o u d o w a n t to e x c i t e the c o n s u m e r . . . a n d t h e r e ' s n o q u e s t i o n t h e r e ' s a different r e s p o n s e f r o m the c o n s u m e r . . . p e o p l e like to m e e t a g o l d m e d a l l i s t a n d t h e r e ' s a n e x c i t e m e n t in that t h e r e ' s s o m e t h i n g a b o u t a c h i e v i n g for a brief p e r i o d of t i m e , b e i n g o n top of the w o r l d within y o u r c h o s e n field that (gets) p e o p l e e x c i t e d . A n d that's not to s a y that t h e y don't get e x c i t e d a b o u t other m e d a l l i s t s or other p e r f o r m e r s but it is different. I m e a n , I'm s u r e y o u ' v e e x p e r i e n c e d that, it's just h u m a n n a t u r e , right? S o o f c o u r s e h i m w i n n i n g t h e g o l d 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 r e a t e this p r o g r a m a n d s o w e might h a v e u s e d S i m o n or other a t h l e t e s differently if h e h a d c o m e b a c k a n d w o n the silver or the b r o n z e or just p e r f o r m e d really w e l l , y o u might still u s e h i m a s a s p o k e s p e r s o n but m a y b e not b r a n d e d it like w e h a v e or ( m a y b e ) p o s i t i o n e d it differently." (M-1, M a l e , S p o r t s nutrition)  77  Ultimately, all four marketers w e r e uncomfortable with a c a u s a l branding strategy - S i m o n Whitfield u s e s this product a n d he w o n the gold m e d a l ; if the c o n s u m e r u s e s the product, the c o n s u m e r will a c h i e v e the s a m e results - or marketers c o n s i d e r e d s u c h a strategy ineffectual. H o w e v e r , marketing representatives did s e e c l e a r benefit in the heightened a w a r e n e s s of Whitfield a n d the potential a s s o c i a t i o n s with their products a s a result of the gold m e d a l . T h e r e w e r e varying viewpoints, however, a m o n g the c o m p a n i e s a s s o c i a t e d with Whitfield, a s to how important the gold m e d a l w a s to their overall marketing strategy. F o r s o m e c o m p a n i e s that w e r e a l r e a d y involved with Whitfield, his u n e x p e c t e d victory provided a unique opportunity to re-develop marketing strategies b a s e d on their previous relationship. T h e gold m e d a l b e c a m e a catalyst in the creation a n d implementation of s e v e r a l Whitfield-based s p o n s o r s h i p relations a n d promotional c a m p a i g n s . " S o , h e w e n t to the O l y m p i c s . . . a n d w o n . W e fell off o u r c h a i r s . A l l of a s u d d e n , w e h a d to s e i z e the opportunity. A n d f r o m there, w e c o u l d n ' t c o n t a c t h i m for three w e e k s , h e w a s in big d e m a n d , a n d s o o n c e h e c a m e b a c k h e c a l l e d u s a n d h e s a y s 'I w o n . ' A n d I w a s pretty m u c h in a state of e l a t i o n . A n d I s a i d ' Y o u k n o w S i m o n . . . w e ' r e h a p p y to s u p p o r t y o u a n d w e ' l l b e h a p p y to s u p p o r t y o u in the future s o if y o u w o u l d c o n s i d e r r e m a i n i n g with u s , w e w o u l d g l a d l y d r a w u p a c o n t r a c t that m a k e s y o u o n e of o u r v e r y , v e r y f e w f u l l y - s p o n s o r e d a t h l e t e s . ' " ( M 3, M a l e , B i c y c l e ) "I think w h a t w e did is r e c o g n i z e a n opportunity in that w h e n w e w e r e talking a b o u t h i m after his result w e w e r e r e c o g n i z i n g that h e a n d his c o a c h h a d really d e v e l o p e d a p r o g r a m u s i n g our product. S o . . . w e c o n t a c t e d his c o a c h a n d w e w e r e w i s h i n g h i m c o n g r a t u l a t i o n s a n d w e w e r e talking to h i m in a c e l e b r a t o r y w a y a b o u t h i s a c h i e v e m e n t a n d t h e n w e s t a r t e d to r e c o g n i z e 'I w o n d e r if w e c o u l d i n c o r p o r a t e his p r o g r a m in a w a y of h e l p i n g e d u c a t e o u r c o n s u m e r a n d a l s o tap into the g o o d will ( a s s o c i a t e d with) w h a t h e ' s d o n e ? ' " (M-1, M a l e , S p o r t s nutrition)  78  H o w e v e r , for other s p o n s o r i n g c o m p a n i e s , the gold m e d a l w o n by Whitfield w a s not the most important element in selecting him for a marketing relationship. R a t h e r , other e l e m e n t s of his mediated i m a g e w e r e d e e m e d to be more important in creating a positive a n d productive fit b e t w e e n Whitfield a n d the brand. In other w o r d s , Whitfield's m e d i a p e r s o n a , with particular p e r s o n a l traits, took p r e c e d e n t o v e r the gold medal in establishing a strategic link b e t w e e n the brand a n d Whitfield. In this s e n s e , s o m e s p o n s o r s p e r c e i v e d Whitfield's gold m e d a l a s a b o n u s in that it afforded Whitfield more significant m e d i a c o v e r a g e a n d i n c r e a s e d his e x p o s u r e in turn increasing a n understanding of the i m a g e s a s s o c i a t e d with the s p o n s o r i n g brand. " T h e fact that h e w o n a g o l d m e d a l w a s a b o n u s b e c a u s e w i n n i n g a g o l d m e d a l , h e r e c e i v e d a lot m o r e attention e s p e c i a l l y o n the p r e s s s i d e , v e r s u s a s i l v e r or b r o n z e . A n d b e c a u s e of the i m p o r t a n c e of that e v e n t b e i n g w o n for the first time in the O l y m p i c s c r e a t e d a little bit of a top s p i n of p r e s s a n d I think t h e a s s o c i a t i o n that w a y b e n e f i t e d u s m o r e than it w o u l d h a v e if h e h a d n ' t w o n , but that w a s n ' t a criteria for s e l e c t i o n . " (M-2, M a l e , F o o d p r o d u c t s ) "Within the r u n n i n g c o m m u n i t y , it's a pretty tight c o m m u n i t y a n d triathlon's t h e s a m e w a y , t h e r e ' s a l a r g e n u m b e r of p e o p l e w h o participate in that sport a n d I'm s u r e t h e y w e r e all v e r y a w a r e of him prior to that. A n d t h o s e a r e t h e t y p e s of p e o p l e that a r e o b v i o u s l y i n t e r e s t e d in the different t y p e s of p r o d u c t that w e h a v e , e s p e c i a l l y the p e r f o r m a n c e o r i e n t e d s t u f f . . . o b v i o u s l y w e don't h a v e a lot of O l y m p i c g o l d m e d a l l i s t s in C a n a d a , particularly in the S u m m e r s p o r t s , (so) if y o u c a n h a v e (a r e l a t i o n s h i p with) o n e , all the better. B u t the r e l a t i o n s h i p w o u l d exist, it e x i s t e d b e f o r e (he w o n the g o l d m e d a l ) . " (M-4, M a l e , F i t n e s s a p p a r e l )  G e n e r a l l y , marketers s h a r e d the opinion held by journalists that the scarcity of gold m e d a l s helped elevate Whitfield to a status in the e y e s of C a n a d i a n s that w a s otherwise unattainable. In fact, o n e marketer d e s c r i b e d Whitfield the gold medallist a s a C a n a d i a n a m b a s s a d o r a n d clearly stated that Whitfield's lofty public image h a d , a s far a s the c o m p a n y w a s c o n c e r n e d , m a d e Whitfield a n individual worth a s s o c i a t i n g the c o m p a n y ' s product with.  79  F o r his part, Whitfield d i s m i s s e d the linear relationship b e t w e e n his g o l d m e d a l a n d his marketability, s u g g e s t i n g that s u c h a c a u s a l interpretation did  not  reflect his e x p e r i e n c e s . In Whitfield's o p i n i o n , he had not b e c o m e instantly m a r k e t a b l e a s m a n y in the public a n d e v e n the m e d i a had a s s u m e d . A s important a s the gold m e d a l w a s to m a r k e t e r s a n d s p o n s o r s , Whitfield d e s c r i b e d his marketing a n d s p o n s o r s h i p relationships a s being primarily a n d significantly g r o u n d e d in the p e r s o n a l a n d p r o f e s s i o n a l relationships that he had cultivated with s p o n s o r i n g c o m p a n y ' s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . "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)  O v e r a l l , therefore, the gold m e d a l w a s v i e w e d by journalists a s o n e of the most important factors that influenced their c o v e r a g e of Whitfield. M a r k e t e r s , o n the other h a n d , differed in their p e r s p e c t i v e s , d e p e n d i n g on their strategy, a b o u t the i m p o r t a n c e of the g o l d m e d a l in their branding a n d s p o n s o r s h i p relationships with Whitfield.  80  M e d i a i m a g e a n d marketability A f o c u s of this study w a s to explore the relationship b e t w e e n Whitfield's m e d i a i m a g e a n d his marketability. All five journalists d e m o n s t r a t e d , to varying d e g r e e s , a n understanding of the marketing function a n d s p e c i f i c marketing strategies particularly with respect to Whitfield a s well a s other athletes they c o v e r e d . J o u r n a l i s t s a l s o generally held strong opinions about the marketing of Whitfield a n d other C a n a d i a n a m a t e u r athletes a n d w e r e often willing to s p e c u l a t e a s to w h y athletes s u c h a s Whitfield b e c a m e marketing s u c c e s s e s . " . . . o b v i o u s l y l o o k s , p e r s o n a l i t y , a n d a p p e a l h a v e e v e r y t h i n g to d o with (marketability). E s p e c i a l l y w h e n m a r k e t i n g a m a t e u r a t h l e t e s b e c a u s e that's w h a t y o u ' r e s e l l i n g . P r o s a r e different, b e c a u s e y o u c a n m a r k e t a little bit of a n a g g r e s s i v e e d g e , y o u c a n ' t m a r k e t that in a n a m a t e u r athlete, n o b o d y l i k e s that. T h e other thing is g o l d , y o u ' v e got to h a v e g o l d . T h a t ' s got to b e y o u r p l a t f o r m . If y o u d o n ' t h a v e gold...I m e a n w h o w a n t s b r o n z e m e d a l s c o m i n g h o m e f r o m y o u r s u p e r m a r k e t (on a c e r e a l b o x ) ? It's ok, but it's not really...it's got to b e g o l d . " ( J 1, M a l e , L o c a l p a p e r )  Journalists d e m o n s t r a t e d first-hand k n o w l e d g e of h o w marketing a n d public relations had influenced their a c c e s s to information a n d ultimately contributed to what they wrote about Whitfield. F o r e x a m p l e , two journalists recalled a p r e s s c o n f e r e n c e featuring the gold medallist u p o n his return from the O l y m p i c s w h e r e a s p o n s o r ' s public relations' representatives a s s u m e d roles a s mediators b e t w e e n the p r e s s a n d Whitfield in order to better control the flow of information that w o u l d contribute to his portrayal in the m e d i a . J o u r n a l i s t s understood the role being played by the marketers a n d public relations staff in this e x a m p l e a n d a l s o a c k n o w l e d g e d that it had affected the construction of the Whitfield story. "I think if (the p o s i t i v e portrayal of W h i t f i e l d ' s victory) w a s a c o m m o n t h e m e , o n e of t h e r e a s o n s for that is the f o r m a t of h o w t h i n g s h a p p e n e d . H e c a m e b a c k (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. O K . ' You go with it." (J-4, Male, Regional paper)  T h e p r e s s c o n f e r e n c e w a s r e c o g n i z e d by t h e s e journalists a s a n attempt to strategically utilize p r e s s c o v e r a g e to i n c r e a s e Whitfield's m e d i a profile a n d p r e s u m a b l y aid in Whitfield's ability to s u c c e s s f u l l y e n d o r s e the s p o n s o r ' s product. T h e journalists w e r e a w a r e of this public relations strategy but w e r e willing to e n g a g e in the public relations p r o c e s s b e c a u s e of their o w n n e e d to gain a c c e s s to Whitfield a n d produce a story. In this w a y , Whitfield b e c a m e a focal point for both s p o n s o r s a n d journalists in a symbiotic 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)  H o w e v e r , not all journalists w e r e comfortable or willing to e m b r a c e the role of s p o n s o r s a n d marketers in the creation of Whitfield's m e d i a i m a g e . T w o journalists e x p r e s s e d serious reservations about p e r c e i v e d c o m p l i a n c e in the marketing of S i m o n Whitfield. T h e y pointed out that the story a s s i g n m e n t w a s most important a n d that they would h a v e b e e n more comfortable without the p r e s e n c e of corporate s p o n s o r s or public relations. O n e journalist in particular d e s c r i b e d free gifts he had received from a Whitfield s p o n s o r a s a n insult. In fact, the s a m e journalist referred to public relations staff a s 'flaks,' a n d w a s c l e a r 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 of...as 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. S o 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. S o 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, t h e s e reporters felt comfortable with creating a n i m a g e that w o u l d benefit Whitfield in terms of marketing a n d s p o n s o r s h i p b e c a u s e of their strong relationship with him a n d his p e r s o n a l a p p e a l . In this s e n s e , journalists p e r c e i v e d a n e e d for Whitfield to take a d v a n t a g e of his positive i m a g e a n d position in the m e d i a spotlight a n d w e r e willing, within r e a s o n , to contribute to e n h a n c i n g Whitfield's marketability through positive m e d i a c o v e r a g e . T h i s w a s not s e e n to be at the e x p e n s e of journalistic integrity or objective reporting b e c a u s e of the g e n u i n e f o n d n e s s that reporters had for Whitfield, a n d b e c a u s e of his ability to help sports writers' produce g o o d c o p y by delivering articulate, thoughtful quotes. "...quite honestly, I write, basically, pretty shameless propaganda for Canadian athletes when I'm covering an Olympic G a m e s 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. S o 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 d e s c r i b e d a reciprocal relationship w h e r e b y Whitfield helped journalists create g o o d c o p y a n d journalists aided Whitfield in creating a positive m e d i a i m a g e . Not surprisingly, however, journalists that e x p r e s s e d discomfort about the role of public relations a n d marketing within the m e d i a production p r o c e s s a l s o e x p r e s s e d discomfort with directly contributing to Whitfield's role a s 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 m a r k e t e r s , they s p o k e k n o w l e d g e a b l y a b o u t the role of the p r e s s within the m a r k e t i n g function. M a r k e t e r s ' r e s p o n s e s s u g g e s t e d that the c o n s t r u c t i o n of Whitfield's m e d i a i m a g e in the C a n a d i a n p r e s s w a s a n important factor in his s u c c e s s a s a n e n d o r s e r of their product. T h e m a n n e r in w h i c h Whitfield w o n the g o l d , his g e n u i n e a p p e a l , his y o u t h , e x u b e r a n c e , hard w o r k a n d c o m m i t m e n t , a n d the timing of his victory, w e r e all cited a s positive m e a n i n g s a s s o c i a t e d with him a n d m e a n i n g s that w e r e a i d e d , at least in part, by the c o v e r a g e within the C a n a d i a n p r e s s . "(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) A g a i n , m a r k e t e r s w e r e most attracted to the mix of positive m e a n i n g s a s s o c i a t e d with Whitfield, b e c a u s e it w a s t h e s e m e a n i n g s that t h e y h o p e d to attach to their p r o d u c t s a n d / o r b r a n d s through the s p o n s o r s h i p o r e n d o r s e m e n t  85  p r o c e s s . H o w e v e r , while marketers' u n a n i m o u s l y r e c o g n i z e d the m e d i a c o v e r a g e of Whitfield's gold m e d a l a s a positive, they varied in their o p i n i o n s a s to h o w this c o v e r a g e h a d influenced 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. S o , while it's important that he gets media coverage not only for us but for himself, I wouldn't say that...it'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. S o 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)  S i m i l a r to the impact of Whitfield's O l y m p i c gold m e d a l victory, t h e s e marketers d o w n p l a y e d the impact of Whitfield's m e d i a c o v e r a g e a n d i m a g e on w h y he w a s worthy of s p o n s o r s h i p or product e n d o r s e m e n t . In most c a s e s , marketers w e r e c l e a r that they v i e w e d heightened m e d i a c o v e r a g e of Whitfield a s a b o n u s in that it highlighted the e l e m e n t s of Whitfield that they w o r k e d to incorporate into a strategic fit with their c o m p a n y ' s brand. E v e n while they c o n c e d e d the benefits of Whitfield's m e d i a c o v e r a g e , they a l s o a p p e a r e d to want to d i s t a n c e their strategic marketing d e c i s i o n s from the influence of the C a n a d i a n m e d i a a l o n e . M a r k e t e r s r e c o g n i z e d the impact of the positive m e d i a c o v e r a g e but did not cite m e d i a c o v e r a g e a s the dominant factor in their marketing campaigns.  86  O v e r a l l , then, a n interesting relationship e m e r g e d w h e r e journalists v i e w e d their work a s potentially contributing to the marketing s u c c e s s enjoyed by S i m o n Whitfield a n d , with s o m e notable e x c e p t i o n s , e x p r e s s e d a g e n e r a l comfort level with having aided him in his b u s i n e s s s u c c e s s e s . M a r k e t e r s , o n the other h a n d , a c k n o w l e d g e d that m e d i a image w a s a n important factor in building the positive m e a n i n g mix that a c c o m p a n i e d Whitfield but s e e m e d reluctant to credit the m e d i a constructed i m a g e of Whitfield a s the defining characteristic in their marketing d e c i s i o n s . B r a n d i n g S i m o n Whitfield After the S y d n e y O l y m p i c s , a nutrition s p o n s o r of Whitfield's re-created a product line that he had u s e d during his training a n d incorporated his n a m e a n d l i k e n e s s into the brand logo a n d a s part of its labeling. T h i s strategy w a s d e s i g n e d a n d implemented in a n effort to capitalize o n the c o m p a n y ' s relationship with a gold m e d a l winner w h o w a s enjoying positive m e d i a attention. A food product s p o n s o r u s e d a n image of Whitfield on their p a c k a g i n g to try a n d i n c r e a s e the profile a n d positive a s s o c i a t i o n s of the product a n d the brand at points of p u r c h a s e . A bicycle s p o n s o r r e - d e s i g n e d their w e b s i t e to include i m a g e s a n d provide a story line describing Whitfield's victory u s i n g their product, a g a i n a s a m e a n s of publicizing their a s s o c i a t i o n with a n O l y m p i c gold medallist. T h i s , a c c o r d i n g to the c o m p a n y , w a s part of a g r a s s r o o t s s u p p l y chain a p p r o a c h that w a s undertaken to e n s u r e that important s t a k e h o l d e r s s u c h a s suppliers a n d retailers w e r e a w a r e of a n d understood their relationship with Whitfield, a  87  relationship that they h o p e d w o u l d eventually be transferred to the c o n s u m e r by w o r d of m o u t h . T h e c o m m o n thread underlying all of t h e s e different s t r a t e g i e s w a s a d e s i r e on the part of m a r k e t e r s a n d their c o m p a n i e s to c r e a t e a strong link b e t w e e n their brand a n d the positive m e a n i n g s a s s o c i a t e d with the public i m a g e of S i m o n Whitfield. In other w o r d s , the link b e t w e e n Whitfield a n d a particular brand - or in s o m e c a s e s , the s p e c i f i c branding of Whitfield - w a s s e e n by m a r k e t e r s to be a m e c h a n i s m w h e r e b y they c o u l d raise the profile of their brand a n d , m o r e importantly, a s s o c i a t e the m e a n i n g s of their brand with the positive m e a n i n g s a s s o c i a t e d with Whitfield. "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. W e 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:) T h i s 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. W e 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 p e r s p e c t i v e s s u g g e s t that the m a n n e r in w h i c h m e a n i n g s a s s o c i a t e d with Whitfield w e r e r e c o g n i z e d and s u b s e q u e n t l y e m p l o y e d by c o m p a n i e s in marketing strategies w a s related, at least in part, to the Whitfield i m a g e created through m e d i a c o v e r a g e . C o m p a n i e s w e r e interested in establishing marketing relationships with Whitfield b e c a u s e of the positive profile that he enjoyed a n d the m e a n i n g s attached to his personality through m e d i a c o v e r a g e . A n d in s o m e c a s e s , the mix of m e a n i n g s that c o m p a n i e s w i s h e d to transfer to their brand through an a s s o c i a t i o n with S i m o n Whitfield w a s c l o s e l y aligned with his personality a n d the m a n n e r in w h i c h he w a s portrayed within the C a n a d i a n m e d i a . A s mentioned a b o v e , marketers differed in their o p i n i o n s regarding the importance or influence of C a n a d i a n m e d i a c o v e r a g e of Whitfield in strengthening his position a s a product e n d o r s e r a n d in turn strengthening their brand. H o w e v e r , what is clear is that a relationship existed b e t w e e n the m e a n i n g s injected into the construction of Whitfield's m e d i a i m a g e a n d the m e a n i n g s that marketers w i s h e d to tap into by a s s o c i a t i n g their products a n d b r a n d s with him. A s mentioned a b o v e , marketers a l s o 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 Whitfield. Interview r e s p o n s e s varied from enthusiastic affirmation of Whitfield's role in improving brand equity to a m u c h more g u a r d e d optimism a s to whether the a s s o c i a t i o n with Whitfield had paid off in terms of the strength of the brand. T h i s reluctance to label the Whitfield marketing strategy a s s u c c e s s f u l w a s b a s e d o n marketers' selfd e s c r i b e d difficulty in accurately m e a s u r i n g the results of marketing strategies  89  u s i n g celebrity e n d o r s e r s . In o n e particular c a s e , the i n t e r v i e w e e b e l i e v e d that, b a s e d o n circumstantial e v i d e n c e , Whitfield had h e l p e d to h e i g h t e n the brand profile a n d strengthen the b r a n d ' s equity but clearly noted the difficulty in empirically a s s e s s i n g the impact of the Whitfield marketing strategy o n the strength of the b r a n d . Still, it is noteworthy that n o n e of the m a r k e t e r s interviewed e x p r e s s e d a c l e a r d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with the Whitfield relationship o r the u s e of Whitfield in their marketing strategies. It s h o u l d a l s o be noted that marketing p r o f e s s i o n a l s in a n interview situation might be unwilling to admit the failure of a m a r k e t i n g s t r a t e g y in a n attempt to a v o i d the potential e m b a r r a s s m e n t a c c o m p a n y i n g s u c h a n a d m i s s i o n . G e n e r a l l y , t h o u g h , m a r k e t e r s clearly articulated the Whitfield/brand relationship a s  successful.  " Y e s . 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. W e 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't...like 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  Whitfield: S i n c e r e , yet S a v v y Underlying m a n y of the e l e m e n t s that journalists a n d marketers identified a s important in the m e d i a a n d marketing s u c c e s s of S i m o n Whitfield w a s Whitfield's ability to e n g a g e with the p r e s s a n d d e a l with public attention in a thoughtful, p o i s e d , a n d articulate manner. Both journalists a n d marketers d e s c r i b e d Whitfield's m e d i a s a v v y a s directly related to what they v i e w e d a s his s i n c e r e a n d g e n u i n e personality, traits that not only s e p a r a t e d him from other athletes, but a l s o i n c r e a s e d his a u d i e n c e a p p e a l , his rapport with the p r e s s , a n d ultimately, his marketability. F o r journalists, Whitfield's sincerity a n d comfort with the m e d i a w e r e defining features of his personality a n d i n c r e a s e d , in s o m e c a s e s , their interest in the Whitfield story. In other w o r d s , journalists c o v e r e d the Whitfield story with particular attention b e c a u s e of his attractive personality a n d his m e d i a 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 allCanadian 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)  Whitfield's ability to deliver a strong quote a n d his c o n f i d e n c e in s p e a k i n g to m e d i a a n d in front of large g r o u p s m a d e him a favourite target of journalists a n d w a s cited a s a n important r e a s o n a s to w h y he received significant c o v e r a g e . F o r e x a m p l e , o n e journalist c o m m e n t e d o n the e n v i a b l e d i l e m m a of having too m u c h information a n d having to c h o o s e from a multitude of p o s s i b l e a n g l e s after interviewing Whitfield. T h i s , a c c o r d i n g to veteran journalists, w a s in s h a r p  91  contrast to the a v e r a g e athlete, particularly a m a t e u r or O l y m p i c athlete, w h o often l a c k s c o n f i d e n c e a n d / o r e x p e r i e n c e d e a l i n g with sports m e d i a w h i c h invariably results in a m u c h m o r e difficult a s s i g n m e n t for journalists. "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 d e s c r i b e d Whitfield's sincerity in contrast to m a n y s u c c e s s f u l c o n t e m p o r a r y sports figures. F o r e x a m p l e , journalists listed p r o f e s s i o n a l athletes or a m a t e u r athletes w h o h a v e e x p e r i e n c e d p r e v i o u s athletic s u c c e s s a s often j a d e d by the m e d i a p r o c e s s or s o o v e r - p r a c t i c e d a s to m a k e their r e s p o n s e s stale a n d c l i c h e d . A c c o r d i n g to t h e s e journalists, Whitfield d i s p l a y e d neither of t h e s e t e n d e n c i e s , in large part b e c a u s e he w a s r e c e i v i n g significant m e d i a attention for the first time. Whitfield d e m o n s t r a t e d a natural affinity for s p e a k i n g to the p r e s s that m a d e c o v e r i n g him relatively e a s y a n d 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 s u g g e s t e d that the Whitfield story w a s influenced to s o m e d e g r e e o n a p e r s o n a l level. S i n c e reporters w e r e attracted to Whitfield's personality a n d his confident, articulate, liaisons with the p r e s s , the c o v e r a g e afforded Whitfield w a s s u b s e q u e n t l y 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)  C l e a r l y , Whitfield w a s p e r c e i v e d by journalists a s unpracticed a n d fresh b e c a u s e , for the most part, he w a s . In his o w n w o r d s , Whitfield's relationship with the m e d i a a n d his ability to conduct himself in a natural a n d s i n c e r e m a n n e r w e r e the result of being thrust into the spotlight after his victory in S y d n e y . "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 d e s c r i b e d his strategies in positively handling the m e d i a attention paid to him a n d r e v e a l e d , at least in part, w h y he had b e e n s o clearly p e r c e i v e d by journalists a s well a s marketers a s g e n u i n e d e s p i t e the p r e s s u r e of the m e d i a 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. S o 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.' S o why would I change?" (Simon Whitfield)  Interestingly, Whitfield a l s o a c k n o w l e d g e d that the more practiced he b e c a m e in interview situations a n d d e a l i n g s with the m e d i a , the more p o l i s h e d a n d refined  93  b e c a m e his r e s p o n s e s . T h u s , d e s p i t e his description of his a p p r o a c h to m e d i a c o v e r a g e a s " n a i v e , " he a l s o r e c o g n i z e d the n e e d to practice his m e d i a skills. "The one thing that's really interesting is when I talk to media a little bit...it's like you become practiced at it. (If) you watch me a week into Commonwealth G a m e s , 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. S o , how do I do those things?" (Simon Whitfield)  Whitfield's g e n u i n e n e s s a n d the resulting positive m e d i a c o v e r a g e transferred o v e r to his s u c c e s s in marketing a n d s p o n s o r s h i p a s w e l l . M a r k e t e r s cited Whitfield's natural e a s e , the fact that he w a s articulate, e n e r g e t i c , a n d outgoing a s r e a s o n s that t h e y w e r e interested in aligning their product a n d b r a n d with him. C l e a r l y , Whitfield's personality a n d c o n f i d e n c e in public i n c r e a s e d m a r k e t e r s ' c o n f i d e n c e in d e a l i n g professionally 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. S o that's one of the things that we consider before we start these relationships (with athletes)." (M-4, Male, Fitness apparel)  M a r k e t e r s ' c o n f i d e n c e in Whitfield's personality i n f l u e n c e d their strategies in w o r k i n g with him. F o r e x a m p l e , the marketer from the sports nutrition c o m p a n y e x p l a i n e d a marketing strategy that involved inviting c u s t o m e r s a n d retailers to participate in recreational running a n d cycling e v e n t s with Whitfield, 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. S o 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. S o 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, o n e marketing practitioner in particular pointed out the n e e d to r e c o g n i z e the difference between Whitfield the gold m e d a l winner a n d high p e r f o r m a n c e athlete a n d the a v e r a g e c o n s u m e r of their product w h o in most c a s e s would be c o m p e t i n g at a m u c h different level. In this c a s e , the marketing strategy t e n d e d to d o w n p l a y Whitfield's gold m e d a l a c h i e v e m e n t a n d instead positioned him a s simply a n active individual, performing the e v e n t s that c o m p r i s e a triathlon, a n d representing Whitfield a s a n e x a m p l e of an athlete w h o benefits from the product line. T h i s strategy a p p e a r e d to build o n Whitfield's s i n c e r e a n d g e n u i n e personality a s a w a y to bridge the g a p b e t w e e n Whitfield's elite level of athletic performance a n d a recreational level in order to position the product a s a c c e s s i b l e a n d appropriate for the recreational athlete. Finally, o n e marketer d e s c r i b e d the characteristics of Whitfield's personality a s strategically attractive b e c a u s e of a n understanding a n d appreciation of the contemporary c o n s u m e r a s m e d i a s a v v y - d e s c r i b e d in a m a n n e r similar to Whitfield - a n d able to r e c o g n i z e , interpret, a n d ultimately reject artificial or manipulated m e d i a c o v e r a g e a n d marketing c a m p a i g n s . "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)  T h u s , marketers a n d journalists e m p h a s i z e d the importance of Whitfield's m e d i a s a v v y , his articulate s p e a k i n g ability, a n d his interpersonal skills a s attractive features. M a r k e t e r s e m p h a s i z e d his product k n o w l e d g e , sincerity a n d s h a r e d c o m m i t m e n t a n d i d e a s a s fundamental to their interest in him. It is r e a s o n a b l e to c o n c l u d e that t h e s e factors influenced the extent to w h i c h Whitfield r e c e i v e d  96  significant, positive m e d i a c o v e r a g e a n d that he w a s a b l e to utilize this c o v e r a g e in terms of marketing a n d s p o n s o r s h i p . T h e 'new' sport of triathlon W h e n d i s c u s s i n g the n e w s w o r t h i n e s s of S i m o n Whitfield a n d exploring the r e a s o n s that affected his m e d i a i m a g e a n d popularity after the S y d n e y G a m e s , a n e m e r g e n t t h e m e w a s the impact of the new sport of triathlon. Journalists a n d marketers d e s c r i b e d the impact of triathlon in s e v e r a l different contexts. First, triathlon w a s d e s c r i b e d by three journalists a s a high profile sport at the S y d n e y g a m e s , both in terms of local fan interest a n d m e d i a attention, a s well a s in terms of its historical importance. T h e historical importance s t e m m e d from the fact that the S y d n e y G a m e s m a r k e d triathlon's debut a s a n O l y m p i c event with full m e d a l status. T h i s high interest a n d s e n s e of history i n c r e a s e d the importance that journalists' attached to Whitfield's victory a n d contributed, a c c o r d i n g to o n e particular journalist, to the dramatic e l e m e n t s , a n d newsworthy qualities, 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 like...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)  T w o other journalists c o m m e n t e d on the perception of triathlon a s a n intense test of athletic fortitude a n d mental t o u g h n e s s , a notion that contributed to the perception a n d construction of Whitfield a s a heroic figure w h o w a s a b l e to o v e r c o m e adversity a n d p e r s e v e r e on the w a y to victory. F o r o n e of t h e s e  97  reporters, this m e a n i n g w a s a l s o linked to Whitfield's C a n a d i a n identity in that it reflected notions of C a n a d i a n 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) "...it'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)  F o r another reporter the sport of triathlon contributed to Whitfield's u n d e r d o g status within C a n a d a b e c a u s e the event did not hold the s a m e level of importance for C a n a d i a n sports fans. This reporter a g a i n illustrated the adjustments that reporters m a d e in covering Whitfield after he w o n , a s well a s s u g g e s t e d that Whitfield'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 C a n a d a 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. Y o u go anywhere in C a n a d a , people know what triathlon is because of Simon Whitfield." (J-1, Male, Local paper)  A s for marketers, two of the four interview r e s p o n d e n t s p e r c e i v e d a heightened s e n s e of historical importance attached to Whitfield's gold m e d a l b e c a u s e he w a s the first p e r s o n e v e r to win an O l y m p i c gold m e d a l in m e n ' s triathlon. T h i s importance m a d e 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  Whitfield's athletic g o o d looks A n unanticipated result of the interviews w a s the f r e q u e n c y with w h i c h r e s p o n d e n t s , particularly journalists, cited Whitfield's physical a p p e a r a n c e a n d athletic g o o d looks a s a n important characteristic in the c o v e r a g e afforded him a n d his resulting m e d i a i m a g e . Interestingly, journalists primarily s p o k e about Whitfield's p h y s i c a l attractiveness not a s a defining characteristic in their o w n c o v e r a g e of him but rather a s a contributing factor to the generally positive i m a g e that Whitfield w a s a b l e to cultivate in the p r e s s a n d parlay into marketing opportunities. T w o journalists s p e c u l a t e d that Whitfield's popularity a m o n g the C a n a d i a n public m a y have d e v e l o p e d akin to that of a teen idol, particularly a m o n g y o u n g f e m a l e s , a n image that w a s cultivated in s o m e part by the m e d i a c o v e r a g e that he received after winning the gold m e d a l . "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. A n d , 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)  C o n v e r s e l y , marketers did not identify Whitfield's looks a s a r e a s o n for involving their c o m p a n y , product or brand with him. R a t h e r , his e n e r g y , youthfulness, s p e a k i n g ability a n d g e n u i n e personality w e r e identified more than his g o o d looks. Y e t , t h o s e most responsible for d i s s e m i n a t i n g the information that contributed directly to Whitfield's m e d i a i m a g e , the journalists c o v e r i n g him, felt that his p h y s i c a l a p p e a r a n c e played a role in the construction of his positive  99  m e d i a i m a g e . T h e r e f o r e , it s e e m s unlikely that the i m a g e of S i m o n Whitfield would h a v e b e e n a s marketable a n d useful to s p o n s o r s , without the positive c o v e r a g e attached to his p e r c e i v e d physical gifts. T h e Whitfield story a n d the production of (good) n e w s In addition to the t h e m e s previously e x a m i n e d , interviews with journalists revealed s o m e g e n e r a l insights into the nature of n e w s production a s it related to the Whitfield c a s e . F o r e x a m p l e , journalists c o n v e y e d a g e n e r a l s e n s e that the c o v e r a g e afforded Whitfield, a n d the key t h e m e s prevalent in the c o v e r a g e of his gold m e d a l , w a s the result of n e w s m a k e r s , including editors a n d journalists, publishing n e w s that they perceived a s attractive to a u d i e n c e s . In the c a s e of Whitfield, this w a s d o n e for s e v e r a l r e a s o n s . First, two of the five journalists d e s c r i b e d a perception of sports f a n s a n d m e d i a a u d i e n c e s a s craving the rise of a celebrity to w h o m they could attach s y m b o l i c m e a n i n g a n d derive p l e a s u r e . In this w a y , Whitfield w a s positioned a s a n opportunity for n e w s m a k e r s to deliver upon a u d i e n c e s ' w i s h e s , n a m e l y a n heroic figure with a strong C a n a d i a n identity w h o brought w o r l d - c l a s s recognition to his country. O n e of the journalists that d e s c r i b e d the cravings of sports f a n s a l s o cited editors' attention to the often o p p r e s s i v e l y negative stories that are p l a c e d o n the front p a g e of n e w s p a p e r s a n d a s lead stories on television. T h u s , S i m o n Whitfield b e c a m e a story worthy of c o v e r a g e d u e , in s o m e part, to the opportunity it afforded n e w s m a k e r s to lead with a positive p i e c e , o n e that would stand in  100  contrast to predominantly negative stories a n d in turn, help i n c r e a s e a u d i e n c e satisfaction. It is significant in this d i s c u s s i o n to note that neither the textual a n a l y s i s nor the interview results revealed anything substantial written about Whitfield that cast him in a negative light or a p p e a r e d to tarnish his m e d i a i m a g e . O f the journalists that c o v e r e d Whitfield, two g r o u p s e m e r g e d : t h o s e o n a regular sports beat w h o had c o v e r e d Whitfield extensively a n d k n e w him on a p e r s o n a l level, a n d t h o s e journalists w h o had b e e n a s s i g n e d to c o v e r Whitfield after the O l y m p i c s for o n e or two stories. O f the former group, Whitfield's positive m e d i a i m a g e a p p e a r e d to be influenced by his g e n u i n e - n e s s , his ability to s p e a k well a n d the generally held notion of him a s a p e r s o n a b l e , a p p r o a c h a b l e individual. T h e resulting c o v e r a g e w a s positive. Of the latter group, the resulting c o v e r a g e w a s positive a g a i n not out of a personal c o n n e c t i o n or relationship with Whitfield but b e c a u s e of a lack of time a n d a c c e s s to information regarding his character. In other w o r d s , journalists w h o w e r e n e w to the Whitfield story s u g g e s t e d that if the only a c c e s s to Whitfield w a s through p r e s s c o n f e r e n c e s , in s o m e c a s e s o r g a n i z e d a n d mediated by pubic relations staff working for a corporate s p o n s o r , then it h a m p e r e d their ability to conduct independent r e s e a r c h , or in-depth interviews, while still meeting their d e a d l i n e s . T h u s , s e v e r a l journalists c o n v e y e d a s e n s e of capitulation, a n understanding that they m a y not h a v e a c c e s s e d the true Whitfield but had little c h o i c e w h e n needing to meet the requirements of the story a n d the n e w s p a p e r . "I mean, it was a really straight-ahead story. They don't get much more straightahead 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)  C o n s e q u e n t l y , journalists c o v e r i n g Whitfield for the first time a l s o q u e s t i o n e d w h e t h e r any of their p e e r s had r e s e a r c h e d d e e p e r into the Whitfield story in a n effort to find a m o r e p e r s o n a l i m a g e , an i m a g e that p e r h a p s w o u l d h a v e resulted in different m e d i a c o v e r a g e . "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: S o 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 s u g g e s t e d that there w a s a g e n e r a l u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the Whitfield story a s an inherently positive o n e a n d that this u n d e r s t a n d i n g resulted in positive c o v e r a g e of Whitfield. A n o t h e r e l e m e n t of the Whitfield story that w a s important in the c o n s t r u c t i o n of g o o d n e w s w a s Whitfield's local ties a n d c o n n e c t i o n s with local c o m m u n i t i e s . F o r n e w s p a p e r s in British C o l u m b i a , a n d particularly in V i c t o r i a w h e r e Whitfield lives a n d trains part of the y e a r , the g e o g r a p h i c a n d c o m m u n i t y  102  a n g l e m a d e c o v e r a g e of his gold m e d a l victory a priority. T h i s attraction to the h o m e t o w n a n g l e w a s s e e n not s o m u c h a s a m e a n s of constructing a positive m e d i a i m a g e but rather a s a strategy of producing interesting n e w s stories for a particular market. In fact the hometown angle w a s d e s c r i b e d by journalists a s a n institutional n e w s tool, a standard element in the c o v e r a g e of C a n a d i a n 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 B C 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 well, a journalist from a British C o l u m b i a n e w s p a p e r recounted how s h e altered her work s c h e d u l e in a n effort to find Whitfield a n d provide a uniquely local a n g l e to the story of his gold m e d a l victory. In her recount, the journalist m a d e this d e c i s i o n in anticipation of the n e w s p a p e r ' s requirement of a story with a local a n g l e , o n e that differed from the standard c o p y being p r o d u c e d for the national n e w s p a p e r c h a i n . In other w o r d s , local n e w s outlets w a n t e d , a n d ultimately r e c e i v e d , a different c o v e r a g e of Whitfield b e c a u s e of his local ties. "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 different...so 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  M e d i a S h e l f Life A final point to e m e r g e from interviews with journalists a n d marketers regarding S i m o n Whitfield w a s a general c o n s e n s u s that Whitfield's positive m e d i a i m a g e , a n d in turn the v a l u e of a s s o c i a t i n g his i m a g e with a brand or product, w e r e , in varying d e g r e e s , subject to time constraints. In other w o r d s , journalists a n d marketers a g r e e d that Whitfield had a p e a k in terms of m e d i a a n d marketing attractiveness, a n d , in turn, a shelf life with regard to n e w s w o r t h i n e s s a n d i m a g e . T h i s perception of a time-limited mediated i m a g e a p p e a r e d to affect the strategies e m p l o y e d both by the journalists in constructing their stories a n d the marketers in d e v e l o p i n g a n d implementing marketing plans involving Whitfield. T h e p e r c e i v e d time limits placed o n the impact of Whitfield's m e d i a i m a g e a n d marketability w e r e directly linked to his gold m e d a l a c c o m p l i s h m e n t . All five journalists a g r e e d that the gold m e d a l victory in S y d n e y afforded Whitfield a public profile, but only within a certain timeframe a n d it w a s within this timeframe that Whitfield w a s most effective in parlaying his m e d i a c o v e r a g e into marketing a n d b u s i n e s s opportunities. Journalists anticipated a relatively short time period before Whitfield's public i m a g e would decline. "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). S o 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  F o r all journalists, this d e c l i n e in Whitfield's m e d i a p r e s e n c e w a s nearly inevitable g i v e n the s u c c e s s e s later enjoyed by other C a n a d i a n athletes - three journalists cited C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c figure skaters J a m i e S a l e a n d David Pelletier a s having taken Whitfield's p l a c e - a s well a s the n e e d 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)  Journalists a l s o s u g g e s t e d that for Whitfield to create more public attention in the future, he had to continue winning major triathlon e v e n t s , particularly another O l y m p i c gold m e d a l . This w a s interesting g i v e n journalists' recognition a n d understanding that Whitfield's ability to win another gold m e d a l w a s c o n s t r a i n e d by the fact that the O l y m p i c G a m e s are held o n c e e v e r y four y e a r s . A s w e l l , a c c o r d i n g to o n e journalist, less high profile e v e n t s s u c h a s the C o m m o n w e a l t h G a m e s - at w h i c h Whitfield w o n the gold m e d a l in the triathlon on A u g u s t 4 , 2 0 0 2 - d o not afford athletes the s a m e m e d i a attention. T h u s , t h  journalists s u g g e s t e d that Whitfield's m e d i a i m a g e w o u l d d e c l i n e in n o n - O l y m p i c y e a r s , before building in anticipation of his O l y m p i c gold m e d a l d e f e n s e .  "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. S o 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 r e s p o n s e to this generally held view of Whitfield's time constrained m e d i a i m a g e , o n e journalist s u g g e s t e d that Whitfield d e s e r v e d intense a n d positive m e d i a c o v e r a g e surrounding his O l y m p i c G o l d m e d a l b e c a u s e the w i n d o w of opportunity to receive recognition - a n d turn his m e d i a attention into b u s i n e s s opportunities - would c l o s e 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)  T h u s , journalists s e e m e d to d e s c r i b e a type of self-fulfilling p r o p h e c y in w h i c h the m e d i a f o c u s e d on Whitfield intensely a n d for a short period of time in anticipation of the decline of his public i m a g e . Clearly, however, this d e c l i n e w a s directly i m p a c t e d by the d e c i s i o n s m a d e by journalists in terms of w h o a n d w h a t to cover. G e n e r a l l y , marketers s h a r e d the perception of the temporal nature of Whitfield's public profile. In two c a s e s , this perception influenced marketers' strategies in terms of branding strategies with Whitfield. "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.' S o . . . 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. S o 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 C a n a d a . S o that definitely has enhanced his marketability." (M-2, Male, Food products)  F o r marketers, the perception of Whitfield's shelf life n e c e s s i t a t e d marketing strategies that f o c u s s e d o n his a c c o m p l i s h m e n t s but w e r e a l s o i m p l e m e n t e d a s s o o n a s p o s s i b l e after the O l y m p i c g a m e s . M a r k e t e r s a n d s p o n s o r s held similar v i e w s of the difficulty of holding the public's attention a n d maintaining a high public profile surrounding athletes like Whitfield, h o w e v e r , they differed in their a p p r o a c h a s c o m p a r e d to journalists. W h e r e a s journalists c o m m e n t e d o n the n e e d to find the next s c o o p in a m a t e u r sport, marketers had more invested in the Whitfield relationship a n d thus, f o c u s e d more o n Whitfield's a c h i e v e m e n t s in s u b s e q u e n t events s u c h a s W o r l d C h a m p i o n s h i p s a n d the C o m m o n w e a l t h G a m e s a s e v i d e n c e of the m a i n t e n a n c e of his high profile a n d w o r t h i n e s s a s a product e n d o r s e r a n d s p o n s e e . Ultimately, while marketers felt the n e e d to work with Whitfield's positive i m a g e in a timely m a n n e r , in order to leverage the relationship to its m a x i m u m , every marketing representative interviewed d e s c r i b e d their relationship with Whitfield a s long-term a n d o n g o i n g . "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. S o 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. W e 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 m a i n t e n a n c e of his m e d i a i m a g e a n d marketability, marketers a g a i n e x p r e s s e d a c o n f i d e n c e in their relationship with Whitfield b a s e d in large part on his p e r s o n a l traits - g e n u i n e , friendly, articulate, outgoing qualities that e n a b l e d marketers to maintain a s e n s e of c o n f i d e n c e in future d e a l i n g s with Whitfield. In other w o r d s , despite the unpredictability of victory in future athletic p e r f o r m a n c e s , all marketers w e r e willing to commit to o n g o i n g b u s i n e s s relations with Whitfield in large part b e c a u s e of the attractive e l e m e n t s of his personality a n d the strong fit between his m e d i a i m a g e , his personality, a n d the identity of their brand. A s mentioned earlier, Whitfield s h a r e d the view that his i m a g e w a s temporally constrained a n d e v e n s u g g e s t e d that he h a d e x h a u s t e d the majority of his time in the m e d i a spotlight. At the s a m e time, Whitfield a l s o s p o k e of the anticipation of m e d i a c o v e r a g e at the 2 0 0 4 O l y m p i c s a n d w a s c l e a r that, b a s e d on his e x p e r i e n c e s at the 2 0 0 0 O l y m p i c G a m e s a n d the 2 0 0 2 C o m m o n w e a l t h G a m e s he did not anticipate enjoying the inevitable m e d i a c r u s h that w o u l d a c c o m p a n y a s u c c e s s f u l d e f e n s e of his O l y m p i c g o l d . "At the Commonwealth G a m e s , 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 G a m e s 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. Fantastic' 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 i m o n Whitfield's gold m e d a l victory at the S y d n e y O l y m p i c s offers a useful c a s e for e x a m i n i n g how m e d i a production p r o c e s s e s influence, a n d are influenced by, the marketability of celebrity athletes in C a n a d a . T h i s r e s e a r c h built o n prior w o r k s by M a c N e i l l (1996), G r u n e a u (1989), a n d S p a r k s (1992) by exploring the complexity a n d fluidity of d e c i s i o n a l p r o c e s s e s involved in producing m e d i a representations of celebrity athletes. J o u r n a l i s t s ' u n d e r s t a n d i n g s of the m e d i a production p r o c e s s a n d their interpretations of the important e l e m e n t s of the Whitfield story resulted in relatively consistent c o v e r a g e b a s e d o n t h e m e s of national identity a n d the v a l u e of a winning performance. M a r k e t e r s , o n the other h a n d , v i e w e d a n a s s o c i a t i o n with Whitfield a s attractive b e c a u s e of the positive m e a n i n g s that he brought to their b r a n d s a n d products. In this w a y , the Whitfield c a s e revealed a n interconnected cultural relationship b e t w e e n m e d i a image a n d marketability within the s p o r t s / m e d i a c o m p l e x , highlighted by intertextual linkages b e t w e e n m e d i a representations a n d s p o n s o r s h i p a n d e n d o r s e m e n t s . Finally, sports journalists' a n d sports marketers' d e s c r i b e d their interactions with the Whitfield story a s c o n s t r a i n e d by institutional, professional, a n d p e r s o n a l factors that they w e r e forced to negotiate a s they w o r k e d towards producing attractive stories or increasing the equity of their brand, respectively. T h i s section d i s c u s s e s the cultural a n d theoretical implications of the study's results.  109  S p o r t s m e d i a production a n d the a u d i e n c e c o m m o d i t y T h e textual reading, keyword s e a r c h , a n d interviews with journalists r e v e a l e d recurring t h e m e s in Whitfield's c o v e r a g e that the journalists identified a s important in d e v e l o p i n g their story lines. T h e s e privileged t h e m e s - the importance afforded Whitfield's gold m e d a l , the national pride attached to his victory, the perception of his victory a s an affirmation of C a n a d i a n s u c c e s s , a n d the repositioning of his i m a g e from a n u n d e r d o g to a hero - are similar in s o m e w a y s to the dominant d i s c o u r s e s - "national h e r o e s , competitive individualism in t e a m sports, notions of rugged athletic masculinity, myths of n a t i o n h o o d , a n d the c o n s u m e r h e g e m o n y of North A m e r i c a n society" - identified by M a c N e i l l (1996, p. 104) in her study of C a n a d i a n O l y m p i c h o c k e y c o v e r a g e . A c c o r d i n g to the journalists interviewed in this study, covering Whitfield w a s worthwhile b e c a u s e of t h e s e e l e m e n t s , a n d integrating t h e s e t h e m e s into their c o v e r a g e h e l p e d the journalists to create entertaining a n d popular n e w s stories. T h e s e findings support previous sports m e d i a production studies that found s o m e story lines s e l e c t e d a n d reported more frequently than others in the production p r o c e s s ( M a c N e i l l , 1 9 9 6 , G r u n e a u , 1989). It is important to note that journalists d e s c r i b e d t h e s e d o m i n a n t t h e m e s a s related to, a n d s o m e t i m e s d e p e n d a n t o n , situational factors in the Whitfield story s u c h a s the timing of Whitfield's victory, the scarcity of C a n a d i a n gold m e d a l s in S y d n e y , the historical importance of winning the first-ever O l y m p i c gold m e d a l in triathlon, a n d the popularity of the sport in A u s t r a l i a . T h e thematic c o n s i s t e n c i e s w e r e d e s c r i b e d by reporters a s part of a large collection of story a n g l e s from  no  w h i c h they w e r e a b l e or required to c h o o s e the t h e m e s that s h a p e d their stories. B e c a u s e t h e s e situational factors w e r e specific to Whitfield only, the privileging of t h e m e s in the c o v e r a g e of Whitfield d o e s not n e c e s s a r i l y s u g g e s t a dominant m e a n i n g mix that c a n be applied to other athletes in other contexts. T h e c o v e r a g e of Whitfield w a s not b a s e d on predetermined, dominant n e w s v a l u e s a s m u c h a s it reflected the important e l e m e n t s of his story a s identified by the journalists a s s i g n e d to c o v e r him. In other w o r d s , there w a s not e n o u g h e v i d e n c e in this r e s e a r c h to s u g g e s t that the c o v e r a g e of Whitfield w a s b a s e d o n "[a] master ideological narrative" s u c h a s that identified with respect to sport a n d masculinity ( M e s s n e r et a l . , 2 0 0 0 , p. 380). Rather, the thematic c o n s i s t e n c i e s s h o w that reporters, presented with m a n y story a n g l e s a n d options from w h i c h to c h o o s e , t e n d e d to c o v e r Whitfield in similar w a y s . W h e n s p e a k i n g to the production p r o c e s s , journalists d e m o n s t r a t e d a w e l l - d e v e l o p e d a n d often critically sensitive a w a r e n e s s for the m a n n e r in w h i c h their o w n professional a n d personal d e c i s i o n s had influenced m e d i a texts a n d in turn contributed to the construction of Whitfield's m e d i a p e r s o n a . Further, journalists w e r e a b l e to clearly articulate w h y d e c i s i o n s h a d b e e n m a d e in particular w a y s a n d h o w t h e s e d e c i s i o n s had influenced the final product. Often, journalists g r o u n d e d their p e r s p e c t i v e s on the Whitfield c a s e within a broad ( C a n a d i a n ) s o c i a l context, suggesting a sensitivity a n d a w a r e n e s s of their position within the larger national a n d cultural framework. Journalists w e r e not simply compliant in the p r o c e s s of m e d i a construction, but rather active s t a k e h o l d e r s in the identification a n d production of sports n e w s .  111  Journalists a l s o d e s c r i b e d their work on Whitfield a s being influenced by more c o n c r e t e , a n d often institutional factors, including the e x p e c t a t i o n s a n d d e m a n d s of their editors, the p r e s s u r e to meet d e a d l i n e s , a n d a l s o i s s u e s to d o with accessibility to interviews a n d information. F o r e x a m p l e , journalists s h a r e d a s e n s e that tight d e a d l i n e s , a n d a lack of o n e - o n - o n e a c c e s s to Whitfield, meant that their stories tended to be routine, a n d at times, e v e n superficial. T h e institutional factors in m e d i a production not only influenced, but a l s o c o n s t r a i n e d , journalists' work. T h u s , journalists in the Whitfield c a s e o p e r a t e d at a c r o s s r o a d s of professional a n d p e r s o n a l power. T h e y c o n d u c t e d their work while being constrained by, but a l s o actively negotiating a n d resisting, the p r o f e s s i o n a l , a n d ideological f o r c e s in the m e d i a production p r o c e s s . Journalists a l s o identified a commitment to a u d i e n c e s a n d reader satisfaction a s a n important factor in their d e c i s i o n s . T h e factors influencing m e d i a c o v e r a g e of Whitfield w e r e not v i e w e d by journalists a s highly political, b u o y e d by a particular s o c i a l a g e n d a , or a n c h o r e d in dominant ideologies. R a t h e r , the t h e m e s u s e d to s h a p e the Whitfield story w e r e s e e n a s attractive, a n d in s o m e c a s e s , requisite ingredients in producing truthful, entertaining, a n d timely sports c o v e r a g e that informed a u d i e n c e s a n d reflected the interests a n d d e s i r e s of m e d i a c o n s u m e r s . T h e implications of this c o m m i t m e n t to a u d i e n c e s are twofold. First, the results support a theoretical a n d empirical c o n c e p t i o n of sports m e d i a production a s heavily influenced by a routine a c c e p t a n c e a m o n g m e d i a p r o d u c e r s of h o w to construct 'good television' ( G r u n e a u , 1 9 8 9 , p.152), or, in this c a s e , g o o d n e w s p a p e r c o v e r a g e . With respect to Whitfield, journalists  112  indicated that their work w a s g r o u n d e d in a commitment to a u d i e n c e satisfaction rather than influenced by political m a n e u v e r i n g or professional c o d e s . S e c o n d , the relationship to a u d i e n c e s in the construction of the Whitfield story s u g g e s t s that the m e d i a production p r o c e s s w a s influenced, at least in part, by the d e s i r e to p r o d u c e a strong a u d i e n c e commodity, the market v a l u e a s s i g n e d to a u d i e n c e s by the m e d i a industry in order to effectively sell c o m m e r c i a l time or s p a c e to advertisers ( S p a r k s , 1992). Journalists referred to organizational a n d institutional conditions - s u c h a s editorial direction a n d profit g o a l s - that n e c e s s i t a t e d the production of n e w s that w a s attractive to a u d i e n c e s . T h e results of this r e s e a r c h s u g g e s t that the Whitfield story w a s newsworthy a n d received significant m e d i a attention b e c a u s e : 1) it p o s s e s s e d s e v e r a l d o m i n a n t a n d r e c o g n i z a b l e n e w s v a l u e s that could be s e a m l e s s l y incorporated into a n e w s story a n d 2) the s u b s e q u e n t a m a l g a m a t i o n of dominant m e a n i n g s w a s p e r c e i v e d by journalists to be useful in reaching a n d attracting a u d i e n c e s , a key c o m p o n e n t of s u c c e s s f u l c o m m e r c i a l m e d i a ( S p a r k s , 1992). T h e results a l s o s u g g e s t that the m e d i a production p r o c e s s , both in terms of the m e a n i n g s constructed around Whitfield a n d the context in w h i c h journalists c o n d u c t e d their work, existed within a h e g e m o n i c framework, G r a m s c i ' s (1971) c o n c e p t i o n of p o w e r existing in terms of both force a n d c o n s e n t . Whitfield's gold  r m e d a l , his construction a s the a l l - C a n a d i a n boy, a n d his heroic i m a g e w e r e afforded privileged status through the production p r o c e s s a n d b e c a m e the standard of Whitfield c o v e r a g e . T h e r e w a s room for divergent t h e m e s within this c o v e r a g e but not to the extent that t h e s e divergent representations 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  appreciation of the influence of m e d i a production on marketing a n d v i c e v e r s a . Both g r o u p s r e c o g n i z e d the reciprocal nature of their relationship a n d provided e v i d e n c e of the m a n n e r in w h i c h their p r o f e s s i o n s draw o n e a c h other. Specifically, journalists r e c o g n i z e d the role played by marketers within the promotional chain a n d the ability of marketers to influence the m e d i a production p r o c e s s by staging p r e s s c o n f e r e n c e s , regulating a c c e s s to athlete a p p e a r a n c e s , a n d influencing athletes' strategic d e c i s i o n s . M a r k e t e r s r e c o g n i z e d the role of journalists in influencing m e d i a i m a g e s , m e a n i n g s , a n d c o d e s that w e r e useful in the marketing p r o c e s s . T h e elective affinity b e t w e e n the two g r o u p s , b a s e d on c o m m o n beliefs a n d interests ( G r u n e a u , 1989), n e c e s s i t a t e d the d e v e l o p m e n t of a reciprocal relationship in order that journalists a n d marketers could r e a c h their professional g o a l s . W h i l e labeling t h e s e relationships a s elective affinities differs slightly from G r u n e a u ' s (1989) original u s e of the term - w h i c h he u s e d to d e s c r i b e the relationship between stakeholders working to p r o d u c e a s u c c e s s f u l televised sports event - the term is relevant a s a w a y to understand that k n o w l e d g e of the entire sports promotional chain s e r v e d a s important professional a n d cultural capital in both the sports m e d i a a n d marketing industries. T h e results s u g g e s t that the professional activities of journalists a n d marketers within the Whitfield c a s e contributed to the creation, perpetuation, a n d m a i n t e n a n c e of a 'vortex of publicity' (Wernick, 1991), w h e r e cultural i m a g e s , m e a n i n g s , a n d c o d e s are c r e a t e d , d i s s e m i n a t e d , a n d eventually i m p l e m e n t e d in s u b s e q u e n t promotional activities. Within this framework, the branding of S i m o n  115  Whitfield w o u l d h a v e differed had the m e d i a c o v e r a g e , a n d its impact o n his m e d i a p e r s o n a , differed. Within the Whitfield publicity vortex, the cluster of m e a n i n g s that m a d e up Whitfield's m e d i a p e r s o n a b e c a m e the cultural ingredients for branding him a n d his i m a g e . It is important to note that the interviews revealed different o p i n i o n s regarding the extent to w h i c h Whitfield's m e d i a i m a g e affected his v a l u e , or more accurately, his i m a g e ' s v a l u e , a s a product e n d o r s e r . H o w e v e r , there w a s a c o n s e n s u s a m o n g interviewees that the positive m e d i a representations of Whitfield positively impacted his marketability. T h u s , in the m i n d s of journalists a n d marketers, m e a n i n g s a n d c o d e s attached to Whitfield r e m a i n e d influential, at least to s o m e d e g r e e , at s u b s e q u e n t points along the mediated chain (Wernick, 1991). T h e r e w a s a l s o general c o n s e n s u s a m o n g marketers that the mix of m e a n i n g s a s s o c i a t e d with Whitfield w a s the m o s t important r e a s o n for linking his i m a g e to their product a n d brand. Marketers v i e w e d a s s o c i a t i o n s with Whitfield a s attractive b e c a u s e of the m e a n i n g s that he brought to the relationship. F o r the most part, marketers w e r e reluctant to completely a c k n o w l e d g e or credit m e d i a representations of Whitfield a s the primary repository of the cultural c o d e s that contributed to this m e a n i n g mix. H o w e v e r , b a s e d on the textual a n a l y s i s a n d interview d a t a , there w a s significant alignment b e t w e e n the c o d e s present in the m e d i a c o v e r a g e of Whitfield, a n d the m e a n i n g s that marketers found attractive in terms of building brand equity through their relationships with Whitfield. T h u s , the r e s e a r c h results s u g g e s t a n intertextual relationship w h e r e b y , to s o m e d e g r e e ,  116  Whitfield's positive mediated image w a s identified, interpreted, a n d incorporated into marketing strategies in an effort to build brand a w a r e n e s s a n d equity. In this w a y , the Whitfield c a s e is further e v i d e n c e that the c o m m e r c i a l m e d i a a n d sport h a v e d e v e l o p e d a symbiotic, d e p e n d e n t relationship ( R o w e , 2 0 0 0 ) a n d a l s o s u g g e s t s that c o m m e r c i a l m e d i a a n d sports marketing m a y be increasingly important to e a c h other's s u c c e s s . Clearly, the p r o c e s s of creating and maintaining this type of intertextual matrix w a s influenced a n d complicated by the ability a n d , in s o m e c a s e s , the insistence of both journalists a n d marketers to critically interpret the v a r i o u s s t a g e s in the m e d i a production a n d marketing p r o c e s s a n d a c c o r d i n g l y adjust their involvement or their p e r c e i v e d c o m p l i a n c e . R e p o r t e r s a n d marketers both r e c o g n i z e d the impact of their work o n Whitfield's mediated i m a g e a n d marketability but e n g a g e d in this p r o c e s s in individual w a y s , in s o m e c a s e s e m b r a c i n g or justifying their involvement, in others outwardly rejecting their roles in the promotional vortex. In other w o r d s , no steadfast professional c o d e w a s r e v e a l e d a s to how d e c i s i o n s are m a d e w h e n dealing with m e d i a i m a g e a n d its impact o n the marketing function. P r o c e s s e s by w h i c h Whitfield's m e d i a image a n d marketability w e r e c r e a t e d , o r g a n i z e d , a n d e m p l o y e d w e r e n e v e r linear or static but n e c e s s a r i l y influenced or broken d o w n by a s e r i e s of c o m p l e x d e c i s i o n s m a d e by m e d i a a n d marketing practitioners. T h e results s u g g e s t a link b e t w e e n M c C r a c k e n ' s (1989) meaning-transfer m o d e l of the s u c c e s s f u l celebrity e n d o r s e m e n t a n d the m a n n e r in w h i c h c o n t e m p o r a r y athlete celebrity e n d o r s e m e n t s are s e l e c t e d , c o n s t r u c t e d ,  117  strategized, a n d i m p l e m e n t e d . Marketers w h o had relationships with Whitfield b a s e d o n s p o n s o r s h i p or product e n d o r s e m e n t s w e r e c l e a r that the positive mix of m e a n i n g s , i m a g e s , a n d c o d e s that h a d b e e n attached to Whitfield w a s a primary r e a s o n for entering into a b u s i n e s s a r r a n g e m e n t with him a n d linking his i m a g e to their b r a n d . In most c a s e s , marketers p e r c e i v e d a strategic alignment between the m e a n i n g s a s s o c i a t e d with Whitfield, a n d the m e a n i n g s that they w i s h e d to a s s o c i a t e to their product. In turn, a n d in a c c o r d a n c e with M c C r a c k e n ' s (1989) m o d e l , Whitfield w a s v i e w e d a s a cultural v e h i c l e , a m e a n s by w h i c h to transfer m e a n i n g s from the e n d o r s e r to the product. T h u s , marketers' p e r s p e c t i v e s on the Whitfield relationship w e r e c l o s e l y tied to, a n d a p p e a r e d to support, M c C r a c k e n ' s framework. M a r k e t e r s differed s o m e w h a t on the origin of the cultural c o d e s through w h i c h they intended to build stronger brands, but m e d i a i m a g e w a s a n important factor. Strategically, the primary u s e of the product e n d o r s e m e n t w a s to effectively relate the m e a n i n g s attached to Whitfield to the product a n d strengthen a n d improve brand equity. W h i l e it is problematic to s p e c u l a t e o n the effectiveness of this p r o c e s s (see d i s c u s s i o n of a u d i e n c e s below) it is c l e a r from this r e s e a r c h that marketers w e r e most interested in a s s o c i a t i n g with Whitfield b e c a u s e of the positive c o n s u m e r perceptions that w o u l d be c r e a t e d by the relationship. I n c r e a s e d s a l e s a n d market s h a r e , while clearly important to t h e s e c o m p a n i e s , w e r e s e c o n d a r y to the goal of increasing equity a n d a w a r e n e s s a m o n g c o n s u m e r s of the brand by a s s o c i a t i n g it with Whitfield a n d his i m a g e .  118  T h e M e a n i n q ( s ) of Whitfield A s mentioned earlier, journalists a s s i g n e d to the Whitfield story identified a plethora of factors that influenced the production of his m e d i a i m a g e a n d s o m e t i m e s varied in their opinions a s to the factors that most influenced the c o v e r a g e of Whitfield's gold m e d a l victory in the C a n a d i a n p r e s s . T h i s variety m a d e it difficult to identify a tight mix of cultural c o d e s with w h i c h to d e s c r i b e Whitfield's m e d i a i m a g e . H o w e v e r , the results a l s o s u g g e s t that, within the Whitfield c a s e , particular t h e m e s w e r e privileged, or afforded more s i g n i f i c a n c e , a n d this resulted in c o v e r a g e that most likely held particular s o c i a l m e a n i n g s for m e d i a c o n s u m e r s . T h e results a l s o s h o w that this c o v e r a g e w a s often consistent with the m e a n i n g s a n d c o d e s involved in Whitfield's role a s a n e n d o r s e r of c o n s u m e r products. C o n s i d e r i n g previous r e s e a r c h e x a m i n i n g the impact of mediated sports m e s s a g e s a n d advertisements a m o n g a u d i e n c e s (Wilson & S p a r k s , 1 9 9 6 , 1999), it is r e a s o n a b l e a n d important to d i s c u s s potential impacts of the portrayals of Whitfield. First, journalists clearly positioned Whitfield's gold m e d a l a s a crucial e l e m e n t in their c o v e r a g e , a n d a s a fundamental factor in determining Whitfield's n e w s w o r t h i n e s s . W h e n a s k e d to s p e c u l a t e , journalists w e r e c l e a r that Whitfield w o u l d not h a v e received similar c o v e r a g e without a gold m e d a l victory at the S y d n e y O l y m p i c s . In fact, s e v e r a l journalists pointed to n o n - m e d a l winning C a n a d i a n athletes - athletes not afforded significant c o v e r a g e - a s e x a m p l e s of the most likely s c e n a r i o f a c e d by Whitfield had he not w o n the g o l d . T o w h a t e v e r extent m e d i a representations m a y be understood a s socially 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 quintessential^ 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  C a n a d i a n cultural l a n d s c a p e ( R o w e et a l . , 1998, J a c k s o n , 1994). T h i s w a s most evident in interview data w h e r e Whitfield w a s identified a s the ' a l l - C a n a d i a n boy,' or a s ' a g o o d C a n a d i a n kid.' W h i l e nothing to the effect w a s overtly stated, there w a s a n underlying s e n s e that this particular recognition, u n d e r s t a n d i n g , a n d interpretation of Whitifeld's i m a g e w a s influenced by a traditional c o n c e p t i o n of a ' C a n a d i a n ' a s o n e of E u r o p e a n d e s c e n t a n d o n e w h o d e m o n s t r a t e s the White, middle c l a s s cultural a n d s o c i a l affinities a s s o c i a t e d with Whitfield. T h u s , the results s u g g e s t that the heroic portrayals of Whitfield, c l o s e l y tied to his national identity, w e r e p e r h a p s b a s e d o n stereotypical notions of C a n a d i a n race a n d ethnicity a s W h i t e a n d A n g l o - S a x o n . P r o f e s s i o n a l negotiation within the S p o r t / M e d i a C o m p l e x With respect to S i m o n Whitfield, the chain of sports m e d i a production the organization a n d execution of the sporting s p e c t a c l e , the c o v e r a g e of the event by m a s s m e d i a , a n d the marketing a n d corporatization of a n athlete a n d his i m a g e - w a s linked by the professional and institutional u n d e r s t a n d i n g s of key s t a k e h o l d e r s a n d practitioners. A s mentioned a b o v e , there w a s clearly a n intertextual nature to the Whitfield c a s e in that m e d i a o r g a n i z a t i o n s , marketing o r g a n i z a t i o n s , a n d sport organizations, relied on e a c h others work to c o m p l e t e the m e d i a production chain in a m a n n e r that benefited all s t a k e h o l d e r s . A s noted, this d e m o n s t r a t e s a n elective affinity ( G r u n e a u , 1989) b e t w e e n journalists a n d marketers within the sport/media c o m p l e x (Jhally, 1984), a n d highlights the m a n n e r in w h i c h sport s p e c t a c l e is created to aid in capital a c c u m u l a t i o n a n d  121  cultural legitimation. Initially, this a p p e a r e d to be a n over-arching force in the c a s e of S i m o n Whitfield. H o w e v e r , the results of the Whitfield c a s e a l s o s u g g e s t that the chain of sports m e d i a production is not institutionally or ideologically fixed. Rather, interviews with journalists a n d marketers revealed a large d e g r e e of professional interpretation, d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g , and negotiation b e t w e e n p e r c e i v e d c o m p l i a n c e a n d r e s i s t a n c e , often b a s e d o n personal v a l u e s a n d e x p e r i e n c e s . Journalists d i s p l a y e d a critical sensitivity for their role in cultural production a n d indicated that they actively negotiate their contributions to the marketing of athletes a n d c o n s u m e r products. M a r k e t e r s a l s o d i s p l a y e d a sensitivity t o w a r d s perpetuating problematic a s p e c t s of culture a n d s t r e s s e d the n e e d for authenticity a n d sincerity in their marketing c a m p a i g n s in order to build strong ties with their c u s t o m e r s . It is r e a s o n a b l e to s u g g e s t that, particularly with respect to marketers, their motivations w e r e driven by profit maximization, but the fact r e m a i n s that they d i s p l a y e d a n active a n d sensitive connection to their role in the sport/media c o m p l e x . F o r all interview r e s p o n d e n t s , this negotiation w a s b a s e d o n a combination of professional perceptions a n d responsibilities, c o u p l e d with personal values and experiences. T h e s e results s u g g e s t the n e e d for future c a s e studies of other celebrated athletes a s a m e a n s of better understanding how sports m e d i a m e s s a g e s are p r o d u c e d in the f a c e of individual negotiations by practitioners within the sport/media complex.  122  V i e w i n g S i m o n Whitfield through a Marxist lens T h i s study primarily f o c u s e d on the m e a n i n g s that journalists included in their c o v e r a g e of S i m o n Whitfield a n d the w a y s in w h i c h t h e s e m e a n i n g s contributed to the marketability of Whitfield's i m a g e . In this s e n s e , both the textual a n a l y s i s a n d the interviews e m p l o y e d a micro-level a p p r o a c h to e x a m i n i n g sports m e d i a production, in that they scrutinized the s o c i a l a n d professional p r o c e s s e s surrounding a single athlete. H o w e v e r , given the theoretical framework that s h a p e d this study, informed by macro-theories of ideology, h e g e m o n y , a n d s p e c t a c l e , it is important to situate the results of the study within this a p p r o a c h . T h e thematic c o n s i s t e n c i e s in the c o v e r a g e of Whitfield - his C a n a d i a n identity, his v a l u e a s an O l y m p i c c h a m p i o n , a n d his transformation from u n d e r d o g to hero - w e r e reflective of journalists' u n d e r s t a n d i n g s of h o w to create truthful, entertaining, a n d attractive n e w s p a p e r c o v e r a g e . A s mentioned earlier, the g o a l of building a strong a u d i e n c e c o m m o d i t y a n d the formation of elective affinities played a role in constructing t h e s e thematic c o n s i s t e n c i e s at the production level. H o w e v e r , it is a l s o a r e a s o n a b l e c o n c l u s i o n that t h e s e recurring t h e m e s w e r e a c c e p t a b l e a n d useful b e c a u s e they fell within the b o u n d a r i e s of m e a n i n g s that reflected the dominant a n d a c c e p t e d ideology or, " o r g a n i z e d thoughts" (Lull, 1 9 9 5 , p. 6), of sports m e d i a production a n d b r o a d e r culture. Journalists' c o v e r a g e of Whitfield w a s constrained by institutional a n d organizational factors a s well a s p e r s o n a l a n d professional notions of what constitutes " g o o d " n e w s a n d entertainment. A s c r i b i n g a c c e p t e d c o d e s of  123  m e a n i n g to Whitfield's m e d i a i m a g e - c o d e s that journalists u n d e r s t o o d to reflect a dominant C a n a d i a n identity a n d ideology - w a s a tool that reporters u s e d to negotiate the c h a l l e n g e s that they e n c o u n t e r e d in the production p r o c e s s . T h e s e c o d e s are cultural a n d exhibit s o c i a l a n d political v a l u e s at a m a c r o level. T h e d e c i s i o n s m a d e by journalists in their struggle to m a k e m e a n i n g of the Whitfield story w e r e a l s o influenced by historical a n d s o c i a l relations. Journalists' u n d e r s t a n d i n g s , interpretations, a n d d e c i s i o n s regarding the m e a n i n g s of Whitfield could be interpreted a s consistent with the m e a n i n g s historically attached to previous athletes a n d a n c h o r e d in previous productions. In this w a y , journalists d e s c r i b e d the Whitfield story a s "straight-forward" or c o u l d treat it a s a " o n e - o f f b e c a u s e they r e c o g n i z e d a n d understood the historical a n d s o c i a l significance of Whitfield b a s e d on previous athletic events a n d previous m e d i a productions a s well a s broader understandings of C a n a d i a n identity, society, a n d culture. A b a l a n c e d v i e w is n e c e s s a r y here b e c a u s e the m e a n i n g s that journalists a s c r i b e d to Whitfield w e r e not invented editorially. T h e s e m e a n i n g s w e r e b a s e d o n , a n d d e v e l o p e d through, the reporting of actual e v e n t s . H o w e v e r , a m e a n s of a c c o u n t i n g for thematic c o n s i s t e n c i e s , particularly in consideration of journalists' o w n descriptions of the production p r o c e s s , is to understand that m a k i n g "good n e w s " w a s most effective if it w a s b a s e d on m e a n i n g s that fit within a dominant, historically l o c a t e d , 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, a n d p e r h a p s h e g e m o n i c , cultural v a l u e s that w e r e potentially legitimated through the m e d i a production a n d marketing p r o c e s s e s . Limitations T h i s r e s e a r c h w a s limited in two important w a y s . First, it w a s i m p o s s i b l e to k n o w with certainty that interviewee's r e s p o n s e s w e r e truthful a n d fully d i s c l o s i n g . It is r e a s o n a b l e that journalists a n d marketers r e s p o n d e d to interview q u e s t i o n s b a s e d o n their perceptions of the interviewer's requirements or in w a y s that protected or e n h a n c e d their i m a g e or their c o m p a n y ' s i m a g e . S e c o n d , the ten interviews in this r e s e a r c h represent only a small s a m p l e of the sports journalists a n d marketers involved in the Whitfield c a s e , a n d a n e v e n s m a l l e r s a m p l e of sports journalists a n d marketers in C a n a d a . T h i s is important w h e n considering the implications of the results in terms of C a n a d i a n sports m e d i a a n d marketing production a n d its impact on C a n a d i a n sport culture. Future R e s e a r c h T h i s study represents only the beginning of a n exploration into the sports media/marketing relationship in C a n a d a . Further e v i d e n c e is n e e d e d to understand h o w m e d i a a n d marketing impact, a n d are impacted by sport culture. T o d o s o , r e s e a r c h should m o v e b e y o n d O l y m p i c sports, a n d c a s e studies of single athletes a n d e x a m i n e other sectors of C a n a d i a n sport, including, but not limited to, a m a t e u r a n d recreational sports, professional sports, t e a m sports, a n d e m e r g i n g sports s u c h a s a d v e n t u r e racing a n d e x t r e m e sports. In fact, it is this last category, adventure racing a n d extreme sports, that represents the most exciting a r e a for r e s e a r c h in sports m e d i a a n d marketing, b e c a u s e of the  126  important role that c o m m e r c i a l m e d i a , particularly television, a n d corporate s p o n s o r s h a v e played in the d e v e l o p m e n t a n d distribution of t h e s e increasingly popular sports. Further r e s e a r c h is a l s o n e e d e d in order to continue a critical a n a l y s i s of the role that sports m e d i a a n d marketing play in creating a n d perpetuating traditional m e a n i n g s a n d c o d e s of sport in C a n a d a a n d the w a y that t h e s e m e a n i n g s contribute to h e g e m o n i c social a n d cultural relations. T h i s r e s e a r c h h a s informed notions of cultural h e g e m o n y a n d dominant ideologies in C a n a d i a n sport, but it is important that t h e s e findings be c o m p a r e d a n d contrasted with other results to create a more c o m p l e t e understanding of the s o c i a l implications of sports m e d i a a n d marketing. Finally, future r e s e a r c h is n e c e s s a r y b e c a u s e the relationships a n d structures explored in the c a s e of S i m o n Whitfield are not static. 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Wright, J . , C l a r k e , G . (1999). "Sport, the media and the construction of c o m p u l s o r y heterosexuality." International R e v i e w for the S o c i o l o g y of Sport 34(3): 2 2 7 - 2 4 3 .  133  Appendix 1 - Interview Protocol Media practitioners What elements of Simon Whitfield's race in Sydney did you consider newsworthy? 2 . In your opinion, were these newsworthy elements demonstrated in the resulting coverage? Would you have liked to see the final coverage differ in any way? 3. How important was Whitfield's gold-medal achievement? Do you think that you would have covered Whitfield similarly or differently if he had won a silver medal? 4. W a s 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? 1.  Marketing practitioners 1. 2.  3.  4. 5. 6. 7.  What elements of Simon Whitfield's race did you consider marketable? 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? 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? W a s Whitfield's Canadian-ness an important factor? Did it influence the decisions that you made with respect to associations with him? Do you think that the media coverage afforded Simon Whitfield influenced his status as an endorser of consumer products? Why or why not? In your view, has Whitfield remained a marketable figure? Why or why not? 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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