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Action Replay: News Fit to Print

Sport is news of course, and the news media need sport. Showing live football matches is often credited with being the main factor behind the rise of Sky, for instance. But the media don’t just pay attention to what happens on the pitch or track or in the pool. What happens outside actual competition is also given a great deal of time and space.

This includes personal remarks, such as why tennis-player Andy Murray is so miserable-looking. And of course who’s been sleeping with who, or what ‘Brand Beckham’ (aka David) will do now his football career is winding down.

Masses of football coverage is devoted to speculation about transfer targets and managerial changes, with endless-seeming dissections of what managers or players should do. If you don’t believe us, just listen to some of the phone-ins and discussions on talkSPORT: 24 hours a day is a lot of airtime to fill.

There is plenty of reporting of such essential topics as what players say on Twitter, or whether particular players would shake hands before a match. Or what does a ‘legend’ who once played for a particular club have to say about some mundane topic? Not to mention the mind games played by certain managers.

In boxing, pre-fight publicity is used to stimulate interest in what will happen. The fight between David Haye and Dereck Chisora in July last year was widely seen as a grudge match after a brawl at a press conference where Chisora threatened to shoot Haye. Tyson Fury and Kevin Johnson exchanged insults before their fight in Belfast at the start of December: Johnson was ‘a fat pudding’, according to Tyson.

Sport would hardly make such an impact without media coverage, but the media use sport and all that surrounds it to attract readers, advertisers and hence profits.