Posted by: writersblock7 | October 2, 2009

Media Coverage of Female Sports

In the contemporary mediascape, sport is covered in all aspects of the media- television, radio, internet, newspapers, blogs and advertising. Sport is considered a fairly important aspect of our society, particularly in Australia where sport is often considered front page news. Despite sport’s prevalence in our society, media coverage of sport is not equal in its coverage of men and women in any form of media. If you look at today’s newspaper, television news or internet news, the gender inequality of media coverage will be very apparent. There has been much research and study undertaken in relation to this issue which has shown that women get significantly less media coverage than men.

Australian statistics done in 1996 show that Men received 95.1% of Radio coverage, 56.2% of Television coverage with Women receiving only 2% and 79.1% of Newspaper coverage (NSW Sport and Recreation). Other statistics show that in 1980 Women received 2.0% of Newspaper coverage and in 1996 they received 10.7%. This shows that coverage increased, however the statistics do not show years other than Olympic years. It would be safe to assume that in these years there would have been more extensive coverage of female sports due to the Olympics.

2005 American statistics show that despite technological advancements and the universal drive toward gender equality in all aspects of life, media coverage of female sport has not increased. On the 3 main network affiliates, male sports received 91% of coverage, where female sport received just 6%. The study also found that “many of the broadcasts in the sample contained no women’s sports coverage” which suggests that female sports are often considered unimportant and not newsworthy. Although these statistics are American, through our own observations it would be hard to claim that Australian statistics would be vastly different.

These statistics show that coverage of female sports has not significantly improved over time. This is particularly saddening, especially due to the Title IX legislation which came into effect in 1972 in America. The Title IX legislation bans sex discrimination in schools in both sport and academics. This legislation had much success in increasing female participation in sports at American schools however media coverage has not paralleled this change., a website dedicated to women’s sport and Title IX, show that “Nationwide data indicate that women make up 38-42 percent of all sport and physical activity participants. Yet, research indicates that sportswomen receive approximately 6-8 percent of the total sports coverage”. Research sadly has shown that males believe that Title IX has adversely affected male sports, and many believe that the law should be changed. An article by Marie Hardin explores this as well as how contemporary media practice has not assisted the media coverage of female sports.

Other statistics indicate that women watch a high percentage of televised sports. Stuart Elliot of the NY Times stated that “for the entire 2004 Summer Games, 50 percent of the audience on NBC was composed of women ages 18 and older, according to the data, followed by their male counterparts, at 40 percent”. Statistics even showed that “women ages 18 and older made up 39 percent of the audience for another major TV sports event, Super Bowl XLII in February, with men ages 18 and older at 47 percent”. This is especially interesting as the Super Bowl is traditionally thought of as having a predominantly male audience, but these statistics show that there was a significantly large female audience. These statistics suggest that women are equally as interested in sport, yet this interest and interaction is not returned through equal media coverage.

Images also show the difference in the way male and female athletes are portrayed. Males are often portrayed in images as muscular, aggressive, and sweaty; essentially as the pinnacle of athleticism. Conversely, women are predominantly shown as symbols of sex, or in traditionally female roles such as wives and mothers. This suggests that often media does not attempt to portray females as spectacular athletes, but in their home lives. This gives females, particularly younger girls who perhaps strive to be athletes the idea that female sport is unimportant and suggests that they should be in traditional roles.

The question must be asked about why media coverage of sport has not reflected the change in media technologies. Female sport has the big challenge of overcoming a traditionally male dominated industry- male ownership of media networks, predominantly male sports journalists and news anchors, and the extremely strong and established popularity of male sports. Statistics show that over time these challenges have not been overcome, however I personally have noticed an increase of female sports journalists and reporters which suggests that this issue is perhaps beginning to be addressed. The new media forms available provide many opportunities for the increased coverage of female sports. Marie Hardin looks at this in her fantastic article but suggests that “although the technology has presented liberating possibilities for women’s sports, those possibilities aren’t being met. Instead, the new media platforms are replicating the discrimination and bias that has always been a part of old-media framing of women’s sports.”

The media coverage of female sports has many challenges and opportunities, however even with contemporary media available, there has been little change. The challenges that have faced female athletes in the past still remain, with statistics showing little change in media coverage. The opportunities of contemporary media still exist, but they are yet to be successfully penetrated. To do this, it will require lots of work and will happen slowly overtime, attempting to even up the male dominated industry as a whole. However I believe it is possible. I don’t think that women will ever get equal media coverage of sport, however they definitely deserve much more than they are getting now. Change is essential!

Posted by: writersblock7 | October 2, 2009

A reflection

I brought this issue up in a family discussion, and it was very interesting to hear what my Dad had to say. He definitely agreed that the way that female sports are covered is bad- covered in sexual ways, and shown all too often in traditionally female roles. He agreed that it is not fair or acceptable that women are not shown as the spectacular athletes that they are. However, he said he believes that women already get more coverage than they deserve. Outraged by this comment, I asked him to explain. He said that women’s cricket is the most boring thing he has ever seen, and if you compare the crowds at the women’s world cup final and the male world cup final, the men’s crowd outnumbered the women 30-1. He continued to say that the media coverage of the male game would outnumber the female coverage at about the same ratio. Personally, I would probably say that the ratio would be closer to 50-1 but I’m not going to mathematically work it all out.

He continued to say that women and men’s Waterpolo get the same amount of coverage (which of course is not much), because he said that visually the game is not appealing. Despite the fact that I agree with this (not a Waterpolo fan), this does not explain the fact that the sport is not covered in the news. He also went on to say that in Tennis, coverage would be almost equal. Again, I do agree with this, but I think that Tennis is a unique sport, wherein women have been apart of the game for decades. I also believe that a lot of the media coverage of Tennis is focused on the most attractive athletes, which is explored in an article by John Vincent. The other major difference is that Tennis is an individual sport, and where the major Tennis events are at the same time as the men’s, which in many other sports is not the case (eg Golf). Therefore equal coverage is expected.

This family discussion really made me reflect on some issues. I do agree with my Dad that female cricket is extremely boring and probably does not need the media attention that the male game gets, however they certainly deserve more than they get currently. The reason why I agree with him, is that male cricket is already quite a tedious game to watch, and unfortunately, the women are not physically as capable of creating the excitement that the males do with the bat and ball. This taps into another big issue surrounding whether there should be slight changes in the Cricket field sizes to make the game physically equal. What I mean by this is that female bodies are not built to be as muscular as men’s. Thus they are unable to hit the ball as far, so perhaps slightly reducing the field would allow for more sixes and fours to be hit. However, doing this would probably spark more controversy with female activists suggesting it is sexist. I do agree that it could be seen this way however a line of logic must be drawn.

One of the most important reasons why female cricketers, as well as many other female athletes deserve more media coverage is to encourage young girls to undertake sport. The almost non-existent coverage of female sports sends the message to young girls that female sport is inferior and unimportant. I believe it is a vicious circle- there is a lack of media coverage of female sports because the media sends the message that female sport is unimportant, and therefore not enough girls undertake the sport to a professional level, and there is not a strong supporter base. One thing is for certain, that obesity is a growing problem, and girls must be exposed to female sports to encourage them to live healthy lives. The media is the key to solving this problem.

Posted by: writersblock7 | October 2, 2009

Marie Hardin’s article- fantastic!

Does ‘new media’ bring new attitudes toward women’s sports?

Unfortunately, no. But we have new tools and platforms for our advocacy.

Social media, such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, have changed the way sports news and commentary is presented and consumed by fans. The “transmission model” for sports coverage, where media professionals were the gatekeepers for what did (and did not) get ink or airtime, has disintegrated. Coverage and commentary is now much more user-driven and community-oriented.

These changes have, for women’s sports advocates, sparked hope that female athletes and sports would finally receive the “fair shake” they deserve after a long history of marginalization. Institutional media in every form have always unfairly allocated the lion’s share of coverage to men’s sports.  Many advocates believed that primary reasons for this were that men dominated the production ranks in print and broadcast media and in advertising (and favored men’s sports). The fact that gatekeepers for traditional media have been overwhelmingly male meant female athletes received little-to-no media attention.

Social media and the Internet, however, have eroded the institutional barriers traditionally blamed for putting women on the sidelines. Now, anyone (male or female) can become a journalist with a step as simple as starting a blog. Thanks to social networking, fans of women’s sports can find one another, join forces, and promote their favorite athletes and teams. With new media, then, it could be argued that many the barriers to fair, equitable and positive attention to women’s sports have come down.

So, why, then, is the sports blogosphere generally giving us more of the same – and worse? The overwhelming majority of sports commentary on the most popular blogs continues to be focused on male athletes at the college and professional levels. When attention is diverted to female athletes or sports-related personalities (such as female sports reporters), it is often belittling and sexist and is sometimes cruel.

Thus, it seems that although the technology has presented liberating possibilities for women’s sports, those possibilities aren’t being met. Instead, the new media platforms are replicating the discrimination and bias that has always been a part of old-media framing of women’s sports.

Based on surveys by the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State, the similarities in demographics and attitudes between traditional journalists and those who write the most popular sports blogs are striking. For instance, our demographic research indicates that about 11 percent of the personnel in U.S. sports departments are women (and that number has likely slipped in past months). A survey of independent sports bloggers shows roughly the same imbalance: Only one in 10 is a woman.

We’ve also asked bloggers and journalists what they think about coverage of women’s sports and about Title IX. Again, they are remarkably similar. For instance, when we asked sports journalists whether they believed women’s sports should receive more attention in the media, most said no. More bloggers (about half) told us they thought female athletes should get more coverage, but most also told us they thought women’s sports could never have the same appeal as men’s.

We then asked reporters and bloggers whether they believed “Title IX has hurt men’s sports,” a myth about the law that reinforces negative attitudes toward female athletes. Again, almost half of respondents in both groups agreed (indicating a fundamental misunderstanding of the law’s impact). About one-third of journalists and one-fourth of bloggers went so far as to say they thought the law should be changed.

All of these attitudes affect the ways bloggers and journalists present — or don’t — women’s sports. The evidence of these attitudes is as easy to find as the first or second click into sites such as, a host to hundreds of blogs.

Of course, this is not to say that fans of women’s sports haven’t been able to find coverage and community through new media. They have. But the fact remains that the vast majority of social networking around sports is dedicated to men and male athletes, and the blogosphere is – by bloggers’ own admission – “quite sexist.”

Thus, new media mimics old. Even with the bells and whistles that accompany the technology, it’s familiar terrain. Thus, our work remains. We must continue to connect to educate, to advocate, to promote, and to protect the rights of girls and women to pursue sports.

Posted by: writersblock7 | October 2, 2009

URLs to check out!

These are websites that haven’t been linked already on my blog. There is alot on them which is great to look at!

Posted by: writersblock7 | October 2, 2009

Media Release 2003



DATE: Wednesday, June 18, 2003


Top Victorian female athletes will push for fairer media coverage of women’s sport at a forum organised by the Bracks Government today.

Athletes including Linley Frame, Kirstie Marshall and Claire Mitchell Taverner will tackle high-profile sports commentator, Dwayne Russell, and other media representatives on why they don’t get coverage on par with men.

The Minister for the Commonwealth Games, Sport and Recreation, Justin Madden, said the aim of today’s forum was to promote the standing of women’s sport in Victoria.

Mr Madden said he appreciated the frustration of female athletes who often performed better than their male counterparts, yet slipped behind on airplay and sponsorship support.

“So many Victorian female athletes are world-beaters and acclaimed overseas for their performances, but at home their achievements often get less recognition,” he said.

“Female sport shouldn’t struggle due to disinterest by commercial media.”

Mr Madden also said it was essential to arrest the decline in female sport participation, increasing obesity and inactivity levels.

“If females see plenty of positive media images of women athletes it can lead them to become involved in sport and recreation and be more active and healthy,” he said.

Mr Madden said the Bracks Government was also committed to increasing women’s participation in cricket, soccer and basketball with a funding boost over four years.

“We’re tipping in more support to the Victorian Institute of Sport for elite athlete development, especially for our emerging female athletes,” he said.

“With a little over a thousand days to the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, we are determined to ensure our female athletes, and indeed all our athletes, have the opportunities to reach their full potential.”

Posted by: writersblock7 | October 2, 2009

An excerpt from an article

Excerpt from “Equitable media coverage of Female and Male athletes: is there a solution?” by John Vincent PHD – Assistant Professor – Sport Management
The University of Alabama – College of Education – Department of Kinesiology

To read the entire article click the link above

Media Coverage of female athletes

During the last 2 decades, numerous empirical studies investigating the interaction of gender, sport, and the media have consistently found that media coverage of female athletes have failed to mirror their athletic achievements. Studies of media coverage of female athletes show that they are generally under-represented compared to their male counterparts (Duncan & Messner, 1998; Eastman & Billings, 2000; Harris & Clayton, 2002; Pederson, 2002). Despite the exponential growth in women’s sport in the last three decades, elite female athletes typically receive only about 10 percent of print media coverage (Bernstein, 2002).

When female athletes receive coverage it is frequently imbued with socially constructed sex role stereotypes and replete with references to their heterosexual familial roles as wives, mothers, girlfriends, and daughters (Christopherson, Janning & McConnell, 2002). The mediated discourse of the heterosexual familial roles of female athletes serves to reproduce the pattern of male dominance in heterosexual relationships (Hargreaves, 1986). The male dominated sport media subordinate female athletic events as the “other” event through a myriad of journalistic and production techniques. Reports of female athletic prowess and achievement are combined with trivialization and are frequently framed with culturally stereotyped commentary about their physical appearance and feminine heterosexual attractiveness rather than their athletic prowess and skill (Bernstein, 2002; Christopherson et al., 2002; Eastman & Billings, 2000; Kane & Lenskyi, 1998; Kinkema & Harris, 1998; Messner, 2002).

Research has indicated that female athletes competing in the traditionally “gender-appropriate” individual sports such as swimming, diving, gymnastics, and tennis, which represent a narrow, culturally stereotyped view of female athleticism, receive more electronic and print media coverage than female athletes competing in the traditionally “gender-inappropriate” team sports such as field hockey, softball, and rugby (Pirinen, 1997; Tuggle & Owen, 1999; Vincent, Imwold, Johnson, & Massey, 2003).

Historically, African American female athletes have been associated with the so-called “race-appropriate” school-sponsored sports of track and basketball rather than socially elitist sports that require country club membership and private lessons. Generally, female African American athletes have received less media coverage than their Caucasian peers even when they have been successful (Williams, 1994). When African American athletes have received mediated coverage it has frequently been imbued with the racial stereotype of their being “natural” athletes, who rely on their athleticism rather than intelligence, work ethic, and tactical awareness (Cole & Andrews, 1996; Sabo & Jansen, 1994).

Media coverage of male athletes

The media devote the majority of their coverage to male athletes and generally valorize and revere them for their athletic prowess and judge sporting events by masculine standards. Summarizing a series of studies conducted for the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, Duncan and Messner (1998) reported that verbal descriptors were used to frame male athletes as strong, active, powerful, and in control. Male athletes were described in terms of their strengths and successes and liberal use was made of power descriptors and martial metaphors.

Recent trends

Several recent studies have indicated that female athletes are receiving a more balanced and equitable amount of media coverage particularly in major international sporting events (Tuggle & Owen, 1999;Vincent, 2002). This suggests that some media organizations in western countries have become sensitive to this issue. However, although there are now more images of powerful, strong, independent elite female athletes, paradoxically, the media have actively promoted and marketed female athletes who have a heterosexually feminine appearance, such as Anna Kournikova. A recent study comparing British newspaper coverage of female and male tennis players competing in the Wimbledon Championships found a relatively equitable amount of coverage female and male tennis players. However, the infotainment nature of the coverage appeared to be marketed and constructed to appeal to a predominately male readership. Anna Kournikova, the nexus of sexuality, commercialism, and athleticism, received more newspaper coverage than any other female or male tennis player. However, the newspaper coverage of Kournikova was replete with sexual inneudo, infantilization, and salacious incursions into her private life (Vincent, 2004). In her article entitled, “Is it time for a victory lap,” Bernstein (2002) argued persuasively that the recent trend to provide elite female athletes with more coverage is undermined if the narratives are replete with gender stereotypes, trivialization, and sexual innuendo.

Posted by: writersblock7 | October 2, 2009

Australian statistics

These statistics are quite dated, but show that even over a period of 16 years, the increase was only slight.

These statistics which are Australian have come from

Gender breakdown of sports media coverage, 1996

Women’s Mixed Men’s
Radio 1.4% 3.5% 95.1%
Television 2% 41.8% 56.2%
Newspaper 10.7% 10.2% 79.1%

(Source: Phillips 1997; mixed sports coverage reports on both male and

female participants.)

Quantity of newspaper coverage

Newspaper coverage of women’s sport between 1980 and 1996

Year 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996
Women’s sport coverage 2.0% 1.3% 2.5% 4.5% 10.7%

(Source: Phillips 1997; data does not include mixed sport coverage.)

Television Coverage, 1996

Commercial Non- commercial Combined
Women’s sport 0.2% 20% 2.0%
Mixed sport 42% 40% 41.8%
Men’s sport 57.8% 40% 56.2%

(Source: Phillips 1997; combined stations include ABC, SBS, Channel 7, Nine Network Australia and Network Ten; includes all sport on selected television stations, as well as current affairs programs.)

Posted by: writersblock7 | October 2, 2009

American statistics

This extract is from an American article which looks at a study of American television programs.

It comes from

Coverage of Women’s Sports at Standstill 2005

“The growth of girls and women’s sports … is really not reflected in the mainstream electronic media news coverage of sport,” he said. “It’s really an almost continuous cacophony of men’s voices telling us about men’s sports.”

The researchers analyzed six weeks of TV sports news on three Los Angeles network affiliates – KCBS, KNBC and KABC – from March 14-27, July 11-24 and Nov. 7-20. They examined 236 sports news broadcasts, totaling nearly 17 hours of airtime.

The duo also analyzed three weeks – 21 broadcasts – of ESPN’s “SportsCenter” programming that ran March 14-20, July 11-17 and Nov. 7-13, totaling nearly 16 hours. Three weeks – 21 broadcasts – of the Fox “Southern California Sports Report” were viewed on those same dates, totaling seven hours.

The researchers found that:

• on the three network affiliates, men’s sports received 91 percent of the airtime, women’s sports got 6 percent and gender neutral topics got 2 percent;

• on the ESPN and Fox shows, women’s sports received 2 percent and 3 percent of the airtime, respectively – an even lower representation than on the network affiliates;

• all of the ESPN and Fox programs and 96 percent of the network affiliate shows started with a men’s sports topic as the lead story;

• many of the broadcasts in the sample contained no women’s sports coverage;

• all of the broadcasts sampled contained men’s sports coverage;

• the proportion of “ticker time” – the scrolling text at the bottom of the screen that lists scores and other sports news – devoted to women’s sports was equivalent to the proportion of airtime devoted to women’s sports in the main broadcast on Fox, KNBC and KABC;

• there was less frequent trivialization and humorous sexualization of women than in past years; and

• 94 percent of the anchor people on the sports news and highlights shows were men, and no women anchors appeared on any of the three network-affiliated news shows.

Duncan said she “was surprised that there wasn’t less coverage of women’s sports and female athletes, given the conservative backlash in the culture.”

“But,” she added, “in terms of quantity and quality, what we found hasn’t changed greatly since our very first study. I think that forms of bias toward women’s sports are probably less overt – and more covert – now.”

Messner said that while reporting of women’s sports was more respectful than in past studies, the sexualization of female athletes was still an element of the coverage.

One example centered on coverage of tennis star Maria Sharapova, who “had largely replaced Anna Kournikova … as [sports commentators’] featured young sex symbol.”

Extensive coverage of Sharapova is legitimate, the researchers wrote, because she had won a Wimbledon tournament.

“But the fact that commentators rarely seemed to report on Sharapova without also commenting (often jokingly) on her appearance indicated a continuation of the sexualization themes from past studies,” they wrote, noting one July 12, 2004 broadcast in which Fox commentators peppered their reporting with “lusty howls” when referring to her.

That taps into a larger issue, Messner said.

“When sports media do focus on a female athlete who is a good athlete like Sharapova, they’re much more likely to focus on someone like that because she still fits that ideal model of heterosexual attractiveness,” he said.

Posted by: writersblock7 | October 2, 2009

An excerpt from an article

The Evolution of Women In Sport

In Ancient times and in the Victorian era, women were discouraged from watching and participating in physical activity. This view was held because a woman was supposed to be passive, obedient and attractive to her male friends. Traditionally men have dominated sport. In fact, it was often argued that sport was harmful to women. This attitude has changed dramatically especially since the 1960s when the women’s liberation movement strongly demanded equality for women.

Australia in the modern age is a nation extremely interested in sport. Sport unites us as people as we play and discuss sporting events together. Gradually women and children have added their numbers to the ‘sporting religion’ of Australia. In 1987, the Women and Sportunit was developed to increase participation and community awareness of the importance of physical activity to females.

Sport holds a significant place in our society, as does the media which is responsible for communicating the importance of sport in our lives. Just as sport is critical to the media, the media is critically important to sport. Although women have made significant contributions to Australian sport, female athletes have yet to achieve equality with men in the media. In terms of coverage a few years ago, women athletes were almost invisible. In a report titled Empowering Women In Sports, it was found that in ‘1993 only 5 per cent of televised sports news covered women’s sports’. This was virtually the same percentage as in 1989. The report’s findings also mentioned that in the print media, a study of four major newspapers found that fewer than 5 per cent of all sports stories were devoted to women only. Today, although sports media coverage still favours men, there is increasing attention being paid to women in sport. Television coverage of the Olympic Games has increased respect for female athletes and brought them into the limelight. Women’s sporting performances have improved as a result of more competition and improved media attention.

To read more click on the title