The Origin of the British Sporting Press: Single score-lines to full game analysis

Jessie Wilkie
Deakin University

The purpose of this paper is to examine academically the origin and
growth of sporting journalism, by developing a case study of sporting
press within UK broadsheet newspapers. This discussion and reflection
will develop a critical perspective of the foundation of sporting
media and journalism within the UK, over the past century. Ultimately
this paper will ask whether the theories of fan engagement and
marketing have pushed this evolution.

Undeniably sporting codes the world over have found themselves with
more revenue, influence and prestige over the past century. Globally
the idea of ‘sporting news’ differs from country to country. The
sport changes, the access changes, and many countries in the world
have competition with more than one thriving sporting code. The
seasonal structure of the sporting elite creates some broadcasting
differences between this special interest group and others. For
instance; economic coverage or technology news does not simply stop
and restructure into theoretical phrasing until an ‘active period’
starts again. Showing the vast differences which exist between the
‘sport section’ and any other area of news coverage.

This paper will discuss the historical growth of sporting journalism
in terms of several British broadsheet newspapers. Discussion on the
growth of sport publishing within a broadsheet format will come from
applying a quantitative eye to past editions. The analysis will also
look at the size, content and depth of discussion on any sporting
events. Looking through publications during the 19th century, this
paper is hoping to analyse over 100 publications to give a portrait of
the origin and history behind the growth of sport reporting.

This paper hopes to make a significant contribution to notions of
Press History, by focusing on the sporting media it hopes to highlight
an under-researched area. The sporting press is often overlooked
because of its special interest status and the refusal of many to
include sporting ‘beat reporters’ in the journalism field. Sport
reporting has grown from the humble days of the score-line and is
becoming bigger each season. Many Sporting codes are deciding to
purchase or begin their own media companies to control the information
outflow, from what are essentially large multimillion dollar business
conglomerates. Ultimately this paper will inform readers about the
origin of sporting media, consider the reason for the evolution and
deliberate its future expansion.

Newspapers and Periodicals in Britain and Ireland from 1800 to 1900