Monday, November 12, 2012

Violence Sells

Whether you are watching pro sports, prep sports, or semi professional sports, there is a common thread between all of them. Violence sells. It is attractive to marketers and draws the attention to the product. Take one look at a Dick’s Sporting goods commercial and watch Ndamukong Suh “hunt” the quarterback,  ( or watch an episode of Sports Center, plays which are not even critical to the outcome of the game will be shown just because it draws in viewers.  But on the advertising front, violence is everywhere.
With this commercial, Suh is seen with a grimacing, aggressive look on his face, wanting to leave no prisoners. The music in the background is low and aggressive, aiding with the main point of the commercial. “Hunting” the quarterback is what he is doing, implying death and pain to his opponent. Instead of showing in game footage where it may be violent, but can be connected to the “nature of the game”, instead he is in an urban environment.  Completely disconnected from the actual activities of the sport.  The emphasis on the camera angle is on Suh as he barrels towards the bystander in the commercial who is merely trying out a new pair of football cleats. But never the less Suh hits him with a devastatingly violent hit.
So what does this show us? It shows us that violence in sports and sport advertising is a problem and one that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Violence is something that isn’t always seen in day-to-day life, and is shied away from when it is, so why is it so appealing in sport advertising?  Could it be the over emphasis of violence and physicality in sport?
Not only commercials including sports are violent, but also commercials played during broadcasted sports are violent. According to a government study, parents are urged to sit and watch sports on television with their children, to limit the amount of sports they take in on TV, and to even implement commercial skipping technology ( Is this what sporting culture has come to? The commercials including sports and commercials played during sport are so violent that parents need to monitor the sports intake their child has? I thought sports were supposed to promote good morals and values in children, not be unsafe and producing of a negative experience for children.
When you look at the promotion of sports to be viewed on television, what do you see? Big bone shattering hits, or finesse plays that require skill and agility? The big hits are what shine through. It is evident through this college football promo from 2009 ( ) How many big hits are displayed? In every frame you can see shades of physical dominance and violence. This says a lot about our culture and what is so imbedded in our culture. What could possibly get you more excited for a football game or games than big hits? Apparently to promoters and advertisers it is second to none. Nothing sells better than a big hit.
So this leads to the bigger question of what can or should be done to change? Is it the responsibility of the consumer or the advertiser? They one doing the advertising will change nothing if it is continually working. If it is not broken, don’t try to fix it. So it lies in the hands of the consumer. If the consumers want to see change in the way that products are being advertised to them, a stand needs to be made and a movement must be started. Violence in Sport advertising creates a bad example for the kids and children watching the event, but if the violence in sport advertising disappears, violence is still prominent in sports themselves, which is the larger social issue at hand.
From boxing, to hockey and football, and everywhere in between, violence in sports cannot be escaped.  If you eliminate violence from sport advertising, it still lives on in sports and visa versa, and the ability to dismiss violence from sports is something that would be very difficult to accomplish. Violence in sport is very much socially constructed and has been that way for years. Whether it is linked to war and violence or physical dominance and violence, it seems to have always been embedded within society.  Its up for the consumer to decide if that is a fight worth fighting, should we as consumers just be aware that it exists? Or become the change that we hope to see within sporting culture?

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