Tuesday , 19 June 2018
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Despite Soaring Popularity, Women’s Sports Got More Coverage a Generation Ago — FAIR

Your weekend wouldn’t be complete without a little volleyball. Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross taking on team Slovakia in the semi-finals, looking for their fourth win of the tour. Easily dispatching the Slovakians in the first set, they lost the 2nd set, so it was decided in three. And team USA advances to that gold medal game, so if you’ve got nothing else to do, cool off tomorrow down at the beach in Long Beach.

The daily news and highlights shows’ failure to equitably cover women’s sports shrouds in silence women’s historic movement into sport and the impressive accomplishments of women athletes, thus retaining sport as a potent site for the reproduction of ideologies of male superiority.

If someone told you that there is less coverage of women’s sports on televised news programs today than there was in 1989, would you believe them? It would be reasonable if your response was “no.”

Certainly, girls and women’s participation in sport has dramatically increased over the past 25+ years, and there are a number of professional women’s leagues today that did not exist in 1989. There’s also been a tremendous growing interest in and fan base for women’s sports over the last quarter century.

Sadly, according to recently published research in Communication & Sport (6/5/15) conducted by myself and colleagues Mike Messner and Michela Musto at the University of Southern California, in 2014 televised news media devoted a paltry 2-3 percent of its broadcast time to covering women’s sports. And, in fact, this was lower than the 5 percent of coverage women’s sports received in 1989. According to our 2014 data, of the 934 Los Angeles local network affiliate news segments in our sample (over 12 hours of broadcasts), 880 were on men’s sports (approximately 11-and-a-half hours) while only 32 segments, or about 23 minutes, featured women’s sports. (The remaining time was spent on “gender-neutral” sports such as marathon or recreational sports.) ESPN’s SportsCenter’s numbers were similar. Of the 405 total SportsCenter segments in our sample (nearly 14 hours), 376 covered men’s sports (just over 13 hours) while only 13 segments, approximately 17 minutes, featured women’s sports.

 

 

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