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Wieland laments rise of commercialism in sports

Jul 22, 2020

The joy of playing and watching sports has been replaced by commercialism, a St. Bonaventure University faculty member wrote in a paper posted by the Jandoli Institute Tuesday, July 21.

“Sports in western culture are one and the same with the media that delivers them to audiences,” Paul Wieland, an adjunct instructor in the Jandoli School of Communication, wrote.

Wieland, who spent 40 years working as a director and producer of sports telecasts, said college journalism programs focus too heavily on the business side of sports.

“The kind of journalism represented in college majors such as sports communication has been subsumed by the commercialism of sport and its television soul,” he wrote. “Education in sports journalism revolves around the business of sport rather than the quaint concept that sports exist for the athletes and sometimes for a grandstand full of live human beings.”

Wieland’s paper, “Commercialism Has Consumed the Soul of Sports,” is the fifth post in the Jandoli Institute’s summer Media Studies Across Disciplines project, a collection of research essays that offer different perspectives on the field of communication.

Wieland will present his paper on Zoom at 7 p.m. Thursday in a format modeled after academic conference presentations. He will summarize the paper and then take part in panel discussion with:

  • Jordan Gathers, a former St. Bonaventure men’s basketball player who is deputy chief of staff for South Bend Mayor James Mueller;
  • Nick Hirshon, an assistant professor of communication at William Paterson University and the author of three sports books;
  • Chris LaPlaca, a St. Bonaventure journalism graduate who is senior vice president, corporate communications, at ESPN, and
  • Evan Weiner, a journalist who covers the politics and business of sports.

Jandoli Institute Executive Director Richard Lee will moderate. The session is open to the public and may be accessed at

The institute will post a new Media Studies Across Disciplines essay on its website every Tuesday through Aug. 11. Thursday Zoom presentations will follow several of the presentations.

The essays were authored by St. Bonaventure faculty members who used their knowledge and expertise to provide insight and analysis from their own individual perspectives. Faculty from the biology, history, nursing, philosophy and sociology departments contributed to the project, which was funded by the Leo E. Keenan Jr. Faculty Development Endowment and the Jandoli School of Communication. The essays were selected through a blind peer-review process.

The Jandoli Institute serves as a forum for academic research, creative ideas and discussion on the intersection between media and democracy. The institute, accessible at, is part of the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University.