The role that the global media plays with sports and its stars is a strange one. On one hand the very reason as to why these athletes are considered stars is due to the coverage and the glorification they receive from the media. On the other hand, the coverage covers every inch of their lives often becoming negative and having a detrimental effect on some careers. It is well documented that in some cases the stories published about these stars can come from botched sources and are essentially false in order to drive up views and readership. The line between the truth and fabrication has become blurred within some organisations.
And it’s no secret that the mental wellbeing of athletes has become more prominent and they have been provided with multiple platforms to voice their feelings and troubles. So with the mental state of athletes becoming widely acknowledged do media organisations have more of a role to play in terms of the protection of athletes and the validity of the content they produce?
This week has seen a prime example of this practice. Tyson Fury is a boxer and person that we are sure most people know for both right and wrong reasons. However, Fury has battled his way back to the top of boxing after a long journey with mental health problems. He recently called out a newspaper that claimed Michael Hunter (US Boxer) had beaten Fury in their amateur days. Tyson took to social media to proclaim that the story was false and that the result never happened. Now the story isn’t likely to have caused any harm to Tyson Fury but it shows the willingness from media outlets to print stories that have little meaning or no substance to their claims.
There have been more examples from around sport involving the fabrication of articles and stories. One athlete in particular who has suffered from some areas of the media is Raheem Sterling. He has previously threatened legal action against some media organisations.
If some media outlets continue to print fans stories is it going to create an environment where the athletes lose all trust in the organisations. At the end of the day these superstars are still human and having to defend themselves from fabricated stories must have a negative mental effect that could potentially damage them for life.
Can it be seen that the media themselves should have a higher duty of care to athletes ?