It has been six weeks since I last posted on my blog; not exactly what might be deemed proper timeliness! In my defense I shall say that the past weeks were very intense and paved the way for what will hopefully be very productive and rewarding upcoming months!
Unfortunately, I was not able to write about Peter Vilfan, a former elite basketball player who became a sports broadcaster for the Slovenian public channel, TV Slovenija, in 1991 and then started a political career as city councilor of Ljubljana in 2006 (he did not cease to broadcast games despite his political engagement). At the 2011 anticipated elections, Mr. Vilfan became a member of parliament and in February 2012 he filed a request that, if accepted, would allow him to continue broadcasting basketball games (on a commercial network, Sportklub) in addition to him being a member of parliament. The Slovenian legislation allows parliamentarians to retain minor research or pedagogic appointments; this is done to allow university professors that become deputies to maintain a link with academe. Sports broadcasting, however, is considered (only) by some parliamentarians too close to journalism and hence incompatible with the parliamentary appointment.
From a professional point of view, I applaud the rejection of Mr. Vilfan’s request. Studies show that sports announcers provide the spectators with more than restatement of what they have just seen: they actively shape the viewers’ perceptions of the action at hand, and they influence the image of sports and society in general. I do not think politicians should be allowed weekly 100-minute ‘time slots’ to discuss sports and society. From a citizen’s and taxpayer’s point of view, I hope that Mr. Vilfan will devote his spare time to reading bills and contributing to revitalizing the Slovenian economy rather than reading sports pages and contributing to revitalizing the local basketball club (a topic I am discussing in an upcoming research paper).
In less than two weeks, I am heading overseas—first to lecture at the University of Alabama and then to attend the Summit on Sport and Communication. I am very excited about both events! Students at UA will get a glimpse of sports broadcasting in Slovenia in a lecture titled ‘Peculiar Notions of Identity and (Possible) Reasons behind Them.’ I will engage in a similar topic at the Summit as I will specifically discuss representation of nationality and gender in Slovenian 2008 Olympic television coverage. Even though the trip overseas will be very short—arriving on March 25 and departing on April 1—I am looking forward to meeting many good friends and interesting new people!
My next lecture is scheduled for May 9 at the Faculty (School) of Social Sciences in Ljubljana. There, I will be lecturing about sports journalism to first-year journalism students. This is a terrific opportunity to bring this topic into Slovenian academic classrooms as courses in sports journalism are not offered by any of the colleges and universities in Slovenia. Indeed, the Faculty of Social Sciences has been looking to offer these contents but could not accommodate their plans (and the students’ wishes!) due to various reasons. Hopefully, this might change soon as interesting opportunities are emerging; I will engage in this topic again as the lecture approaches.
The last time I visited the Faculty of Social Sciences—my alma mater, by the way—a few weeks ago, I met Žiga, an enthusiastic master’s student interested in issues of cheerleading and objectivity in sports journalism. We exchanged a few words and I am hoping that he will keep in touch and inform me about his research and professional pursuits. There seems to be growing interest in issues of sports media and sports communication among college students and young professionals in Slovenia. This is an aspect I will start following in even greater detail as exciting opportunities are emerging!