Den svenska sporthjälten : Kontinuitet och förändring i medieberättelsen om den svenska sporthjälten från 1920-talet till idag

Sammanfattning: This thesis examines the media construction of five Swedish sports heroes, active from the 1920’s to the beginning of the 2000’s. The analyses are based on the assumption that sports heroes are social products that reflect the dominating ideals and values of a society or culture, and that the media plays an important role in this process. Firstly, the media provide the attention necessary for successful athletes to become publically known and, secondly, they create the stories in which some athletes are represented as heroes while others are represented as villains. The use of narrative theory in this thesis builds on the idea that a story is not merely a way of presenting information, but a way of creating meaning. A person becomes a hero when he or she is described as a hero in a heroic tale. To analyze the media construction of sports heroes is thus to analyze the media stories of them as heroes.In order to examine and compare the construction of sports heroes in the media, articles from daily press and magazines as well as broadcasts in radio and television have been analyzed. The results show that although each of the five heroes were valued and represented according to ideals and values specific of his or her time, there are similarities in the media representation of them that suggest that there is some degree of stability in the narrative of the Swedish sports hero over time. In many ways, the story of the Swedish sports hero is still intact since the 1920’s. However, this story is an ideal story and the process of constructing athletes as heroes has proved to be filled with compromise and contradictions. It can be argued that the media is more concerned with fitting the athletes into an already existing narrative of the Swedish sports hero than with representing them as individuals.Seen in a wider historical context, sports heroes represent an example of how national identity is constructed in the media. National identity is, as many theorists have shown, a dynamic and relational process. What is considered typically Swedish thus changes over time and in different contexts. In this process the social status of sports heroes helps to stabilize as well as legitimize dominating ideas of Swedish national identity.