Portraying the emotion of Sports
Sports journalism from the past and the present have, in common, the dedication to the same mission: portraying the emotion of the big sports events
"A huge amount of people went today to Campo Pequeno watch the challenge between English and Portuguese football. [...] The result of the game was very flattering to our compatriots who managed to win. [...] Almost everyone, after football, was touring the zoo, where Persian Mirra, the hairy woman was one of the attractions. "
In January of 1889, newspaper O Comércio published an article entitled “O Match do Campo Pequeno – A Mulher Peluda no Jardim Zoológico” ["The Campo Pequeno Match - The Hairy Woman in the Zoo”].
A football story was published , for the first time, on the pages of the Portuguese press.
The absence of regular and diverse sports meant that the first publications were focused on traditional activities such as bullfighting, gymnastics, hunting and cycling.
At the time, the Portuguese word for “sports” did not exist, so the English word was used.
Elsewhere in Europe, the sporting world was a journalistic topic since the 1850s.
In the United States, although they had already written articles about sporting events, the first newspaper to hire an editor for this section was Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, in 1883.
THE «SPORTS CAUSE»
In Portugal, Sport, published in 1894, was considered the first newspaper with a generic title, without a connection to a specific activity, dedicated to diverse sports contents.
The publication of the newspaper ceased a few months later.
The case was not unique; the longevity of the general sports publications was generally short, due to lack of readers - in 1911, the illiteracy rate in Portugal was 75 percent – and to scarce advertising.
Sports Journalism didn't exist as a profession and many publications were created by members of the national elite, in order to promote the sports that they played.
The publications of the time were united by the desire to work for the "sport's cause".
Publication Sports Illustrated organised events such as the National Olympic Games and the 1910 Grand Parade Cyclist, in order to democratise sports.
The organisers had in mind the experience the French newspaper L'Auto, which promoted, in 1903, Le Tour de France.
The race had a resounding success, which was reflected in the sales of the newspaper and in the spirit of the nation, to which cyclists were true heroes.
The pioneering sports press and its agents played, thus, an essential role in the implementation, organisation, institutionalisation and popularisation of sports and physical education.
In Portugal, the Association of Sport's Journalists, created in 1911, constituted an effort that included the big names of sports and general Media.
In early of 1912, since the government lacked the means to fund a national team to compete in the Olympic Games in Stockholm, the Portuguese Olympic Committee and the Association of Sport's Journalists launched a fundraising campaign, which allowed to send six national athletes to Sweden.
The 20s saw a consolidation of Sport's journalism and an expansion of the specialised press in this area.
Football got more prominence in the national press and the rivalry between the Media of the North and South of the country became evident.
However, sports newspapers had difficulty to cover the production and printing costs, which was reflected in successive increases of the cover price.
Sports newspapers also faced a strong competition from the sports sections of daily newspapers, who had not only more resources, but also resorted to an extensive network of correspondents.
WATCHED BY CENSORSHIP
The late 20s saw the birth of the first broadcasts of live sporting events throughout Europe.
In the 30s, radio became popular in Portugal and newspapers showed interest in this new medium.
In June of 1930, the sports section of Diário de Notícias used Lisbon’s CT1DE station to conduct a service of radio report, broadcasting a soccer game.
Sports press was not oblivious to the political situation of the country.
In the late 30s, due to the Spanish Civil War, censorship warned the press against using the word 'red' when referring to Benfica, avoiding connotations with the Communists (“rojos") who fought in Spain.
But the intervention of censorship in the Portuguese press didn’t stop there.
In early 1938, three international Portuguese players refused to make a fascist salute before a game between Portugal and Spain.
Encouraged by censorship, Stadium magazine had edited the photo, so that the players seemed to have an outstretched hand.
Among the sports personalities who faced Estado Novo was Cândido de Oliveira.
The former Portuguese football star and renowned journalist, he had returned a few months prior from the prison of Tarrafal.
With Vicente de Melo and Artur Rebelo, he founded the newspaper A Bola, with the subtitle “Newspaper of All Sports".
Four years after, another publication that made history in the Portuguese sports press would start: Record.
Manuel Dias, newsagent and former Olympian, was the main driver of the project, who joined Fernando Ferreira and Monteiro Poças.
Also noteworthy was the creation of the newspaper O Jogo, which would appear almost four decades later, on the 22nd of February, 1985.
In the international scene, the competition between sports newspapers also intensified.
On the 16th of August, 1954, Sports Illustratedwas founded in the United States, which claimed to be "not a sports magazine, but the sports magazine".
The magazine became one of the most successful cases and longevity of the sports press.
THE MAGIC BOX
The Olympics in Berlin, in 1936, marked the first television broadcast and the first live coverage of a sporting event.
In the United States, the 50s and 60s saw a rapid increase in sports coverage in broadcast Media.
American football and baseball, in particular, have become true sports events.
News and photography agencies dedicated to sport were also created, such as photo agency AllSport, founded by Tony Duff.
Sport also had arrived to the Portuguese audiovisual Media.
During the first regular broadcast of RTP, on the 7th of March, 1957, Domingos Moreira made a comment about football, in the 'Miradoiro" rubric.
Between the late 60s and early 70s, the percentage of airtime on RTP dedicated to sports rose significantly.
In 1972, RTP’s sports programs made up 409 hours of broadcast (compared to 380 hours of newscasts), mainly due to the live transmission of the Olympic Games in Munich.
The beginning of private television in Portugal turned sports into a strategic content in the struggle for audiences.
In 1998, Sport TV, the first cable channel dedicated to the world of sport, revolutionised the audiovisual panorama in Portuguese sports.
It evolved to the era of spectacular sports; sports – especially football – as an event that moves crowds.
The development of social networks has opened new platforms for sports debate.
During the first week of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, there were more than 459 million publications, "likes" and comments on Facebook.
It is estimated that 81 percent of the public prefers the Internet for information on sports news.
Over the past 150 years, sports has changed and the sports press has changed with it.
The triple job of the first forerunners in sports Journalism (practitioner, newsmaker and regular sponsor) has been completely changed with the professionalization of newsrooms.
From an elite activity of the late nineteenth century to today’s spectacular sports, sporting activity has become a mass phenomenon, which brings together Media attention from around the world.
"In every sports fight, even when it doesn’t seem like it, there is always a soul. Sports journalist is always the one who knows how to discover it and how to describe it. "
Os Sports, February 25, 1942