San Millan de la Cogolla – Spain's Princess Letizia said in her speech here Thursday opening the International Seminar on Language and Journalism that sportswriters play a unique media role as "emotional guides" who not only inform but also "arouse passions."
The president of the La Rioja autonomous region, Pedro Sanz; the director of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, Jose Manuel Blecua; the president of Agencia Efe, Jose Antonio Vera; and the CEO of BBVA bank, Angel Cano, spoke during the inauguration ceremony in this small northern town.
Former soccer player and manager Jorge Valdano kicked off the event, organized by Fundeu BBVA and the San Millan de la Cogolla Foundation and devoted this year to the language used in sportswriting, by talking about the social and cultural importance of soccer.
Analyzing the language employed by sportswriters is a tricky task because "when talking about emotions, words tend to overflow. And, in that overflow, there's always the risk the rules aren't followed," Letizia, a former journalist and the wife of Crown Prince Felipe, said.
She said sports reporters seek "to arouse passions, not just inform; they're emotional guides who channel energy, illustrate feelings" and verbalize "the effort, magic and tenacity" of sports.
In that regard, she questioned whether it is possible for these writers to fulfill their mission while strictly adhering to grammar rules, and if instead they should be given a certain amount of leeway to use "elastic" language.
Vera, for his part, referred to the role played by Agencia Efe, Spain's international news agency, and Fundeu BBVA, a foundation co-sponsored by Efe and BBVA bank, in promoting the correct use of Spanish in the media.
He referred to the "many vices" that threaten sports journalism, including the "exaggerated use of Anglicisms, the abuse of military and religious similes and cliches."
However, he said these uses "are not always negative as long as they are not repeated and exaggerated."
The director of the Royal Academy alluded to the meanings assigned to the word "deporte" (sport) in dictionaries of the Spanish language, in which it has appeared since the 15th century.
The Anglicism "sport" first began to be used by Spanish speakers in the 19th century, Blecua noted.
Cano referred to BBVA's commitment to language through Fundeu BBVA and to sports through its sponsorship of Spain's soccer league, its marketing sponsorship with the NBA and other activities.
Sports have an "ethical dimension" because their values "are exportable to other facets of life" and "those values must also be present in the form, in the language," Cano said.
"Words are not innocuous and can be confrontational" and therefore sportswriters need to act with "prudence, integrity and transparency," the CEO said.