New Era in TV Sports

September 7, 1984

Report Outline
Expanding Sports Menu
College Football Changes
Baseball and Pay Tv
Special Focus

Expanding Sports Menu

Multiple Outlets Serving Armchair Fans

Games enlist skill and intelligence, the utmost concentration of purpose, on behalf of activities utterly useless, which make no contribution to the struggle of man against nature, to the wealth or comfort of the community, or to its physical survival. —Christopher Lasch

Chances are, most sports fans would agree with Lasch's observation about the wider implications of sports in society. Yet games of sport are immensely popular throughout the world—even if they have nothing to do with the physical survival of the species. The United States is as sports-crazy as any other nation. Witness the idolatrous treatment of the nation's athletes in the Summer Olympics; they were hailed as heroes by everyone from the president to flag-waving citizens on the street. Or the fervor with which people in Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio towns follow the fortunes of their high school football teams. Or the fact that normal activity comes to a virtual standstill in places such as Indiana and North Carolina when the state university plays for the national collegiate basketball championship. Or the wild public parades for Super Bowl-winning football teams.

Every year tens of millions of Americans show up in person to cheer the home teams. Yet their number is dwarfed by those who stay home and follow sports on television. There is a wider menu of sports events on TV today than ever before. Network television, cable TV stations, regional pay cable networks and local independent stations are giving over unprecedented amounts of air time to sports. Take college football, for just one example. A recent Supreme Court ruling “deregulated” the televising of games, which had been controlled by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. As a result, the number of college football games on TV this season will at least double 1983's 89 telecasts.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Feb. 19, 2021  Hollywood and COVID-19
Apr. 11, 2014  Future of TV
Nov. 09, 2012  Indecency on Television
Aug. 27, 2010  Reality TV
Jun. 20, 2008  Transition to Digital TV
Feb. 16, 2007  Television's Future
Mar. 18, 2005  Celebrity Culture
Oct. 29, 1999  Public Broadcasting
Aug. 15, 1997  Children's Television
Dec. 23, 1994  The Future of Television
Mar. 26, 1993  TV Violence
Sep. 18, 1992  Public Broadcasting
Oct. 04, 1991  Pay-Per-View
Feb. 17, 1989  A High-Tech, High-Stakes HDTV Gamble
Dec. 27, 1985  Cable Television Coming of Age
Sep. 07, 1984  New Era in TV Sports
Sep. 24, 1982  Cable TV's Future
Apr. 24, 1981  Public Broadcasting's Uncertain Future
May 09, 1980  Television in the Eighties
Oct. 25, 1972  Public Broadcasting in Britain and America
Mar. 26, 1971  Video Revolution: Cassettes and Recorders
Sep. 09, 1970  Cable Television: The Coming Medium
May 15, 1968  Television and Politics
Mar. 01, 1967  Financing of Educational TV
Dec. 16, 1964  Community Antenna Television
Oct. 21, 1964  Sports on Television
Feb. 28, 1962  Expansion of Educational Television
Aug. 28, 1957  Television in the Schools
Jan. 18, 1957  Movie-TV Competition
Sep. 06, 1955  Television and the 1956 Campaign
May 18, 1954  Educational Television
Sep. 03, 1953  Changing Fortunes of the Movie Business
Apr. 20, 1953  Televising Congress
May 31, 1951  Television in Education
Jan. 26, 1949  Television Boom
Jul. 12, 1944  Television
Radio and Television
Sports and Recreation