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Abby Silverstein

October 17, 2016


Essay 1

There is a significant difference in media coverage for professional male and


female athletes. While there certainly have been improvements over the last few
decades for female athletes, they still lack respect and fair representation in the media.
There was a huge lack of media coverage in the 2008 Olympics for the female athletes
compared to the male athletes. According to Dianne Jones, the gender gap in the
number of stories covered in the 2008 Olympic favored male athletes by a margin of four

to one. The males received twice as many photographs, lead stories and just in overall,
most of the spotlight (2013, p. 245).
This is a chart that shows US airtime heavily is extremely low for female athletes.

In the recent 2016 Summer Olympics there was noticeably unfair treatment towards the
female athletes. In interviews, if women finally got the media coverage they deserved,
the reporters rarely took them seriously and would ask them questions not about their
accomplishments. Despite their dominance in the olympics, female athletes were still
treated differently than male athletes. In her article Katie Rogers noticed; We found
things like men being described as fastest, strong, biggest, Ms. Grieves said. For
women, its unmarried, married, references to their age. There is an inequality there.
(2016). There are countless reasons why this topic is so crucial. No matter how
successful our professional women athletes are or aim to be, they almost always never
get the media coverage and appreciation they deserve. This lack of respect can leave
women athletes feeling little determination or pride in what they have accomplished or
strive to accomplish. This also leaves a very small audience for our professional female
athletes. Societies opinions are formed based on the more accessible information and
the media chooses to create numerous heroes and role models for young male athletes.
However because of the agenda setting affect, the media is telling the audience what is
the more important issue and more specifically who, and this almost never applies to
female athletes. What is this supposed to teach young girls.

In this photo of Brandi Chasten, she is celebrating her goal that mad the USA Womens
soccer team win the 1999 World Cup, but despite this photo making the cover page,
because Chasten ripped off her shirt showing her bare skin if caused horrible
controversy all over the media overall being negative towards female athletes.

This forces young audiences to think no matter how hard women work and how much
they accomplish, they will never be rewarded the same as a male athlete. Emily Liange
points out when the audiences are more interested in female athletes poses and
clothing, the media is suggesting women first, athlete secondan attitude that
questions these womens self-esteem and achievements. We are encouraging female
athletes to put sex appeal over strength by ignoring their accomplishments and
prioritizing their sexual appeal. What does this create for young female athletes to look
up to, think of themselves, and their potential? Instead of acknowledging female athletes
for the accomplishments they have strived to succeed the media will acknowledge their

appearance or something completely irrelevant to being an athlete. The way the media
portrays female athletes only creates a negative outcome, limiting hundreds of
thousands young female athletes dreams and potential. Unequal coverage and the

negative portrayal the media has created of female athletes has a significant impact on
the current athletes now and our future female athletes.
This photo shows the media lacking in appropriate coverage for female athlete,
Katie Ledecky, breaking a new world-record and winning gold medal, yet Michael
Phelps grabs the headline for a silver medal.
Last summer Olympics were historical for Female Athletesthe U.S women
outnumbered their male teammates for the first time. However the female athletes still
receiving unfair media coverage and unequal treatment despite their success.
More people are also watching the womens FIFA World Cup on television more than
even in history, about one billion viewers expected to tune in worldwide over the course
of the event. However according to Marcie Bianco statistically, data collected between
the years 1989 and 2014, researchers discovered women athletes are covered less in

media now then then in 1989. Only 3.2% of coverage was given to female sports in
2014 (2015, p.1). No matter how success and how much these female athletes are
accomplishing, even compared to our male athletes, they are still received so much less
media coverage. Agenda setting is circling around this topic. Certain information is more
accessible than others, forming the audiences opinions solely focusing on male athletes
instead of female athletes. Therefore, we tend to evaluate an athlete, in this case male
athletes based on issues media cover the most. This creates negative outcomes
towards female athletes and positive outcomes for male athletes.
The commentators for the Olympics showed vast sexism in numerous moments
this summer Olympics. Clair Bates shows a perfect example in her article of when one
Olympic commentator gave Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu all the glory to her
husband and trainer after she won the gold medal in the 400m individual medley and a
broke a new world record. This is the man responsible. he says, putting the spotlight
on her husband instead of Katinka Hosszu herself (Bates 2016). This is just one small
but perfect overview of the media demeaning our women athletes pride and success.
Women are succeeding all around the world in sports, beating world records, making
history, and so much more but all the media can find important and highlight is never
relevant to the womens success. Dianne Jones mentions that statistically, out of 10,007
articles, 86 percent is dedicated to male sports and the male athletes themselves

specifically. However, when females finally do get a spot in an article or newspaper, it is


very unlikely for it to have the luxury to have any photographs and it is more common
than not for the article to be about the female athletes physical appearance than
anything else. (2006, p. 109). They almost never ask the female athletes the same
questions they ask the male athletes, like the amount of hours of training spent, their
mental focus, their goals they are determined to accomplish or really anything relevant
to their success or sport itself. They always somehow find a way to ask about their

appearance and something completely irrelevant. According to Mary Celeste Kearney,


most images in Roller-girls promotional campaign is the lack of athleticism.
This is a photo of Rollergirls posing, not being captured as the athletes they have trained
and focused to be.

In the advertisements, the female players are in their skates but not once taking an
action shot. Even though the website contains skater images there is only one specific

image of them in an athletic competition (2011. p. 290). This simply creates a negative
portrayal of female athletes, ignoring their athletic image and creating a sexual, nonathletic image of these female athletes. This influences the audience to make judgment
of these female athletes due to the images chosen for exposure in the media. Another
strong point Dianne Jones made in her article, is when the media downgrades the
importance and seriousness of our women athletes, we are instantly devaluing them,
their accomplishments and the women they have strived to be (2013, p. 245). This also
effect the media responses toward our sportswomen and creates a negative image to
our audience. Eastman and Billings stated in Dianne Jones scholarly article that the
media for success and failure can be greatly influenced by gender. For example, when
men fail its mainly considered in lack of athletic skills; while when women fail its mainly
conveyed to be in a lack of commitment (2013. p, 247). The media is telling the
audiences and providing them with an inaccurate frame of reference of our women
athlete. The media directs the audiences attention toward specific dimensions of an
issue, male athletes; and ignores the others, female athletes. James R. Angelini makes
a very strong point in his scholarly article. When children are growing up, they are
always observing what is acceptable behavior for males and females and what is
appropriate for both genders. These societal cues are commonly major contributors to
how an individual, due to a powerful gender role identification should behave. The

amount of exposure and personal experience also have major contributions in his or her
beliefs of how a male and female are appropriately expected to act. Television viewing
that exposes negative images of different social groups unconsciously creates a
personal belief about an individual or group of people despite of having any knowledge
or experience about this belief. This is a huge issue in framing effect for young
audiences views and amount exposure on female athletes. This tells the young
audience what is important about female athletes, how to think about them and so forth,
shaping their personal beliefs of female athletes. These stereotypes between male and
females are unconsciously reinforced through the viewing of television images and very
often lead to an individuals belief of gender roles. Like Angelini states, These beliefs of
the differences between men and women, and in this context between masculine and
feminine sports, are constructs of social reality that reinforce societal inequities between
genders, which include the concepts of masculine dominance and feminine inferiority.
(2008. p.18).
The lack of media coverage on female athletes and the negative portrayal they
receive on the media creates a gender gap for the young audiences that are viewing this
content. Leading young male athletes to think they are superior to female athletes and
leading young female athletes to think they are inferior to male athletes. We are lacking
greatly in respect for women athletes in media coverage. Society needs role models for

our young women and future athletes and one way to aid in this area is to support and
increase female athletes media coverage and positive portrayal.

Bibliography:
Angelini, J. R. (2008). Television Sports and Athlete Sex: Looking At the
Differences in Watching Male and Female Athletes. Journal Of Broadcasting &
Electronic Media, 52(1), 16-32. doi:10.1080/10934520701820752
Bates, C. (2016). Is some Olympic commentary sexist? BBC News Magazine
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-37037050

Bianco, M. (2015). There is less womens sports coverage on TV news today


than there was in 1989. qz.com http://qz.com/428680/there-is-less-womens-sportscoverage-on-tv-today-than-there-was-in-1989/
Jones, D. (2006). 8. The representation of female athletes in online images of
successive Olympic Games. Pacific Journalism Review, 12(1), 108-129.
Jones, D. (2013). Online coverage of the 2008 Olympic Games on the ABC,
BBC, CBC and TVNZ. Pacific Journalism Review, 19(1), 244-263.

Kearney, M. C. (2011). Tough Girls in a Rough Game. Feminist Media Studies,


11(3), 283-301. doi:10.1080/14680777.2010.535309

Liang. E.( 2011) The Medias Sexualization of female Athletes: A bad call for the
modern Game. Inquiries Journal, Vol. 3 NO.10 PG.1/2.
http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/587/the-medias-sexualization-of-female-athletes-a-badcall-for-the-modern-game

Rogers, K. (2016). Sure, these women are winning olympic Medals, but are they
Single? The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/19/sports/olympics/sexismolympics-women.html\
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/08/16/sexist-headline-olympics_n_11544838.html