Lack of media coverage for women’s sports

Elena Della Donne is a forward for the Washington Mystics.

Photo from Flickr.com/Laurie Shaull

Elena Della Donne is a forward for the Washington Mystics.

Farrell Shine, Staff Writer

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It is not hard at all to find a women’s sporting event to attend–they are held every day whether it be for college or professional leagues. However, it is hard to find a women’s sporting event that you can watch on mainstream television or even read about in the mainstream media.

Despite the growing number of female athletes and women’s sporting events being held, the media’s coverage of women’s sports is still astonishingly low. According to the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, women’s sports in the United States only receive around four percent of all sports media coverage.

Professor Cheryl Cooky, an associate professor at Purdue University, is a co-author on a study on televised sports news coverage and spoke to NiemanReports.org about the study’s findings.

“We had days where we [were collecting] data on local news broadcasts or on ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter’ and there would literally be no coverage of women’s sports,” Cooky said.

As a former female athlete, it is disappointing to see women playing the same sport as men, on the same exact level, and receive way less media coverage and attention.  Additionally, it is very disappointing that women are paid drastically less than men, while they are doing the same exact work. However, this issue has been in the spotlight for quite some time and has been getting addressed more and more in recent years.

Lack of media coverage given to women’s sports can be quite evident, especially when you compare our own women’s basketball team to our men’s basketball team here at Iona College. The amount of press that attends the men’s games is greater than the amount of press that attend s the women’s game, if there even is any press there at all. Additionally, you can compare the crowd turnouts between the men’s and women’s team and see how unbelievable the difference is.

It’s sad that the crowds that come out to support the men’s team don’t see the necessity to come out and support the women’s team in the same way. What makes men’s basketball a higher priority than women’s basketball? Both teams are playing the same exact sport, on the same exact level. What deems one to be more important than the other?

Most people who disagree with the idea that women’s sports deserve more coverage than they currently receive will emphasize the idea that sports are all about money. I think money should be put aside and the underrepresentation of women’s sports should be addressed properly. It’s not as impossible as people may think for women’s sports to thrive and receive the coverage it deserves. I truly believe if there’s more coverage of women’s sports, the popularity will increase.

The media’s lack of coverage for women’s sports reflects society’s view of women in general– that they are less than their male counterparts, and that the cultural norm of the society we live in is that men are considered the strong, athletic ones who dominate the sports world.

With the recent development of online subscription-based streaming services, it is not too difficult to find women’s sports to stream. This coverage of women’s sports is just the first step of moving women’s sports coverage forward and gradually into the mainstream media.