Coverage of female athletes in the media pales in comparison to rates of participation of women in sports



40% of all athletes are women


College newspapers in a 2009 study covered female athletes and events in 27% of their sports stories, and college television operations devoted 18% of their sports stories to females


ESPN’s SportsCenter devoted a scant 2% of airtime to women’s sports in 2014, a proportion that has remained flat since the study began tracking the show in 1999


40% OF ALL ATHLETES ARE WOMEN, but only 4% are represented in the media – and too often how they look is more important than their skills. Explore the issue with scholars, the media, coaches at collegiate, Olympic and professional levels; and female athletes themselves. Produced with the University of Minnesota Tucker Center and aired 12/13.  


Mainstream media has improved, but not enough:


To more funding and coverage 

From its start in 1997, the WNBA has had enthusiastic fans looking for good basketball and seeing in the league affirmation of the goal of sports equality.  The WNBA has endured for two decades and strives to keep the failure of other leagues from haunting it. Two women’s soccer leagues succumbed after three seasons including the well backed Women's United Soccer Association.

That said, in 2016 the $25 million the WNBA got from its primary broadcaster, ESPN, is a tiny fraction of the NBA’s average $930 million payment from ESPN and TNT


Yet the "for a woman" caveat remains

McEnroe told NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro that while Williams is "an incredible player," (she's won 23 major singles titles and 14 in doubles) she'd be "like 700 in the world" if she played on the men's circuit.


Even coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics was markedly different for male versus female athletes

Researchers found that men most often were described as “great” “strong” and “fastest.”  Women, however, were described most often using words not related to their ability in sports. The researchers noted words like “older,” “pregnant” and “married” were used often for women athletes.

Lesser male athletic achievements overshadowed those of females like this headline:


These are actual headlines focusing on "looks," not athletic ability:


How great is this #CoverTheAthlete campaign showing just how ridiculous the media approach is toward female versus male athletes?

There are negative consequences when women in sport are underrepresented and misrepresented  

Though there has been tremendous growth and popularity of women sports, female athletes are still considered inferior to male athletes and when compared to male athletes there is still an obsession with the body of female athletes rather than on her athletic skills.  This inequality within sport will continue, according to Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, until the media re-examines its portrayal of female athletes.

Click  here  to see the full presentation.

Click here to see the full presentation.