In early November, I had the opportunity to discuss the influence of media exposure to sports events on national audiences at the conference of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport in Tampa, Florida.
This presentation reported the correlation of patriotic attitudes among Slovenians with their media consumption of the European basketball championship hosted by Slovenia in 2013 and the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
It turns out higher television consumption is correlated with patriotic attitudes, but not in the way most people imagine: Overall levels were statistically similar before and after the event, but those who watched more sports on television scored higher on scales measuring patriotism (a feeling of attachment to one’s country), nationalism (a sense of superiority over other countries), and smugness (a brazen sense of primacy). Watching sports does not make one a patriot; rather, more identified spectators tend to tune in more to begin with.
Interestingly, internationalism (a sense of world sharing or global welfare) was not influenced by the amount of sport-watching.
Differences were even more pronounced in 2013, when the event was smaller (a European basketball championship rather than the Summer Olympics) but it was much closer (Slovenia versus Brazil) than the one in 2016.
Television remains a unique medium as patriotic traits did not differ with regard to newspaper readership or online media consumption.
More scholarship on mediated sports, national identification, and sports events in post-socialist contexts will be presented in academic conferences and journals soon.