1° SEMINAIRE INTERNATIONAL DU VATICAN
relationship between sport and the media today is " particularly risky''
and prone to conflict. It is marked by a strong sense of malaise which almost
always breaks out into a kind of " war " between the sports industry
and the news industry, both of which are firmly set on defending their own,
reason for this conflict between sport and the media is that the sports world
has its own structures, rules, powers, controlling bodies and its own courts,
and very often the news media demand entry into that world, to become familiar
with it and to talk about it. What is missing is a healthy relationship of
cooperation between them, beyond the traditional technical information that
sport needs, and which the media duly supply.
am not trying to hide behind a corporation attitude. For quite some time I have
taken a critical stance, recognizing " our " and " my "
faults which include reporting only about the wrongdoings in the world of
sport, ignoring the good things that are being done, and the positive stories
and examples which sport knows how to offer and continues to do so. These
positive things are certainly less newsworthy, and the public is less interested
in them because it is always far too keen on scandals and gossip, exclusively
attracted by pushing the process of spectacularization to the extreme.
mass media interest in sport is rooted in the huge power it continues to exert
on the public (even though i cannot say how much longer it will be able to keep
it up! ). This power is called " popular passion ", a phenomenon which
has a crucial influence on the circulation figures of magazines and newspapers.
attracting press advertisements, determining the success of a broadcast and -
through audience ratings - attracting the interest of radio and TV commercial
venturing into areas that have nothing to do strictly with my responsibilities,
such as the newspaper industry - even though even there the situation is not
very different from my own industry - I would like to draw your attention to
something with which I am more qualified to deal: soccer and television. I think
that the present scenario in this respect is alarming, to say the least! First
of all, we have to admit that in recent years the " soccer system "
has found a way to earn the maximum possible financial resources by selling the
" soccer product " in thousands of small " packages ". And
all this has been done in defiance of the Italians' passion for the sport which,
until just recently, used to be considered the most beautiful game in the world.
marketing tactic - we are told by the experts - has produced a wide range of
television offerings that are very difficult for the public to assimilate,
creating incredible confusion with so many matches being played, in addition to
" overdosing " on midweek matches (Series B matches, as well as
European tournaments) that cram the television schedule full, seven days a week.
is far too much soccer! And it is no longer a big deal to buy the broadcasting
rights for the " first screening " of the Sunday Series A matches for
EUR 61 million a year. People are now getting bored with it. The market has
ignored its most elementary rules: it has flooded and oversupplied the market,
leading to public " indigestion ".
the quality of the entertainment is becoming increasingly tawdry, except when
the usual well-established clubs continue to fight it out with each other - the
clubs that have no financial problems. that can afford to invest huge fortunes,
because they are the property of great multinationals.
go along with those who criticize people that keep harking back too much to the
past, because we have to move forward. But there are times when the past can
offer extraordinary examples. Years ago in Italy, many of us used to follow a
fixed Sunday ritual with great punctually. It began with Sunday morning Mass,
followed by the rush to the nearest pastry shop (there is always one near every
church). then quickly back home for the Sunday family lunch, and immediately
afterwards a walk to the football stadium to see the game, after which we would
go rush back home to watch " 90th Minute " programme presented by
Paolo Valenti, who very adroitly avoided ever giving away the results of the
game of which excerpts (usually the second half) were broadcast immediately
after his legendary programme. Yes. those were certainly the days in which there
were still professionals around who knew how to convey not only the thrills of
sport, but also its values, and who used the media with sound common sense
according to clear-cut rules and with proper respect for a very " powerful
" instrument: the microphone. There was still a taste for entertainment.
Sport was practised above all as a game. without neglecting its educational side.
But today we have given way to the rules of the market, and we are culpably
ignoring the educational and informational role of our media.
today has certainly become richer (not only soccer, but other disciplines are
also discovering new ways of making big money that was unthinkable even a few
years ago, thanks to television and sponsorships) - richer in terms of money,
that is. but significantly poorer in terms of values! I will not go into the
daily reports of the negative sides of soccer, which still remains Italy's most
popular sport, even though the TV audience ratings show that other disciplines
broadcast at the last Olympic Games are surprisingly and encouragingly gaining
in popularity with viewers; but I would like to speak about the responsibility
that I feel I can attribute to the news, and particularly the people running the
news industry: the publishers. those responsible for radio and television
broadcasts, and the press.
society is increasingly losing the sense of human values.
dash for success seems to be the only way of demonstrating a life lived with
commitment. Sport. too, as the mirror of the reality in which we live, offers
examples that are not always positive. The myth of wealth has permeated through
to every area of human activity, causing people to lose the perception of what
is right and what is wrong.
now goes, in the name of success. Which means wealth.
is the role of the media in all this? They report, inform, and denounce, but
they certainly do not educate! The quality of the programmes shown on television
is declining all the time. Judging from my own experience I can safely say that
the expectations of the viewing public are also very low, and tend to be turned
off by educational programmes, mostly preferring programmes with very little
cultural content such as reality shows or wrestling matches- the epitome of
phoney sports- to programmes that debate issues similar to those we are
discussing at this seminar.
me conclude by harking back, for a moment, to the little soccer pitches we used
to have in the parish 'oratory' clubs, where the parish priest organised matches
that went on and on interminably, until dusk fell, often ending with no winners
and no losers. Those parish clubs produced " little champions ". Those
experiences helped us to mature, because it enabled us to acquire real life
values that included respect for others, knowing how to win fairly and without
pushing victory to extremes and to accept defeat graciously. And I would also
like to make a very personal request to the Church: give us again our parish
sport clubs! Give us again parish priests who, with referee's whistle and an eye
for discipline, are not afraid of getting their shoes dirty on the pitch in
order to be with the youth of their parish. Priest who are capable of giving
them formation in virtues and discipline through games and sport.
I am certain that the value of sport is handed on through such healthy, genuine relations as these, even if they may be considered by some to be somewhat out of fashion today.