I don’t really watch sports, but I have been noticing through viewing television advertising, through sports news and from listening to friends discussing ‘last nights football score’ that sports teams made up of women are astoundingly absent from the conversation. If I were to ask many of my male and female friends to name a football, basketball or cricket team off the top of their heads it would more than likely result in a male dominated team name – like the Illawarra Dragons, the Hawks or the Cronulla Sharks. Where are the mentions of the Matildas? The Opals? The Hockeyroos? As a matter of fact, where are their Friday night, prime time television time? My case study will be about the representation of genders in sports media, focussing on the inequality of airtime provided for teams.
Women’s sports are shown on TV, but just not at the same rate and hype as mens sports are. Only 9% of sports coverage in Australian news is made up of women’s sports, and even lower is the 7% of time specified to non news coverage of the sports. This leaves 81% and 86% of time on the Television devoted to male sporting coverage (see chart below).
This coverage issue is not only unfair as gender should not take away the chance to admire skill, but it takes away funding therefore also widening the pay gap experienced by male and female sports stars. For example, in 2015 only 2 women were even in the list of 100 highest paid athletes around the world. Lack of funding and coverage also spirals into lack of opportunities for future female sportspeople, but contribute to the trickle down effect on young children and young women who have less female sports stars to look up to, at least in mainstream media that is. It is a bit of a kick in the head when watching male sports the females are the scantily clad cheerleaders, or the female sports reporters getting hit on when they’re trying to do their jobs.
There is obviously a need to fix the gender divide of media representation of women in sports in Australia but it doesn’t help that there is those in the media who have spoken out against the idea of equality in sports media.
There’s no way to say this nicely without sounding sexist, but the fact of the matter is blokes hit the ball further, kick the ball harder, go in harder, it’s better to watch, end of story” – Mr John Mangos, Sky News (Channel 7, Sunrise, 3 August 2006)
This sexist rhetoric can be harmful for young women who have dreams of being sporting stars, and further instigates the ingrown Australian sexism in sports that men are ‘better, faster and stronger’. How are young girls supposed to continue to participate in sports when researchers have found that teenage girls are less likely to stay playing due to bullying and body image concerns as opposed to the boys?
Gender inequality in sports media is a problem that needs to be addressed for our future as equal citizens. We cannot say that we are equal when women are not even treated as equals in an activity such as sports that is supposed to bring people together.
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Christy, A. (2015). Gender Inequality in Sports Media. [online] Magic.piktochart.com. Available at: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/9481436-gender-inequality-in-sports-media [Accessed 9 Aug. 2016].
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Theline.org.au. (2016). Women in sport – What’s with the gap? | The Line. [online] Available at: http://www.theline.org.au/women-in-sport-whats-with-the-gap [Accessed 9 Aug. 2016].
Towards a Level Playing Field: sport and gender in Australian media. (2014). 1st ed. [ebook] University of New South Wales Journalism and Media Research Centre and Media Monitors joint research for the Australian Sports Commission, p.112, iiv. Available at: https://www.clearinghouseforsport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/595567/Towards_a_level_playing_field_-_Updated_Version.pdf [Accessed 9 Aug. 2016].