The relationship between sports and the mass media has evolved over time. The rise of mass media and new technologies has expanded the reach of sports to a wider audience. As a result, sports have attracted an increasing number of paying spectators. At the same time, commercial mass media have increasingly viewed sports coverage as an inexpensive form of content that enables them to reach a large audience. Furthermore, state and public media have recognized that sporting events serve as opportunities to reinforce national culture and patriotism.
Today, print media devotes considerable space to sports coverage, including features on individual athletes and examinations of sports issues. Some of these stories are published in collections such as the Best American Sports Writing series. Likewise, the growing body of academic literature on sports includes fictions, autobiographies, and reflections on the fan experience.
Sports also have a conservative influence on national identity and culture. While some believe that association between sports and nationalism is merely patriotic and chauvinistic, others believe it is more complex. Nevertheless, sports have also contributed to the development of liberal nationalist political movements. For example, the 19th century Slavic gymnastics movement, or the Falcon, was a major force in the national liberation movements from Russian and Austrian rule.
Today, sports are linked to complex networks of interdependency chains and unequal power relations. As a result, groups continuously vie for dominant positions. While Western sports are largely dominated by European and North American sports, the traditions of other regions have become marginalized. Some, such as the Afghan buzkashi, are still kept alive as folkloric curiosities.