Before you read this post, I want you to close your eyes and imagine yourself flicking through channels on TV (or even better, sit down and actually flick through channels on your TV). You will notice that on at least one channel, maybe even two or three, a match is
being played. According to this article by journalist Stephanie Chalkley-Rhoden, this game has an 81% chance of being a men’s game, a 10.3% chance of being a mixed game (men and women), and a measly 8.7% chance of being a women’s game (these are Australian statistics from 2015). Media coverage of women’s sports is pitiful. Here are some theories as to why:
Women’s sport is not as exciting as men’s – FICTION
How is women’s sport not as exciting as men’s? Is it because female athletes are forced to comply with a certain standard and level of play which restricts them from doing anything remotely “unladylike”? Or maybe it’s because female athletes are not as well-known and therefore watching them is far less interesting than watching Messi, Beckham or Ronaldo. They are not as well-known because they receive less media coverage, and the vicious cycle continues.
Women’s sport has a very low budget – FACT
Unfortunately, the budget provided to women’s sports teams by universities and clubs is very small, far smaller than the men’s budget. This means the ladies have limited access to facilities and coaches, meaning their potential to improve is repressed, meaning they are – to put it simply – not as good as men. Men in high places at sporting associations make sure that female athletes receive a measly budget in order to retain the superiority of men in the association.
TV only shows what the audience wants to see – FICTION
I’m not a particularly sporty person – I play basketball and I dance, and these are the only two sports I’m really interested in watching. I personally find men’s basketball quite
annoying to watch as it’s extremely fast and the refs let things slide that women would never get away with. Women’s basketball, along with both genders’ dance, are the only sports I wish to watch on television. These are both barely broadcast. I go to watch the Canberra Capitals (my favourite basketball team) whenever they play in my city. The stadium is usually full, and that is because nobody was able to say “never mind, I’ll watch it at home.” I am an audience member, and you, television, are not showing me what I want to see.
TV saves women the sexualisation of which they will become victims by limiting the television coverage they get – FACT
Unfortunately, yes, this is a fact. I don’t know how much women’s sport you’ve watched in your life (very little, I imagine), but if you have, you’ll notice the differences in what they wear, the questions they are asked by reporters, and the comments that are made by the media. While men wear whatever clothing is most suitable for the sport, women wear a version that shows just a little more skin. Most of the time, it’s not a choice – they have to wear skimpy things sometimes so that their male sponsors will sponsor them, or often the club they play for has provided them with inappropriate gear. While the media comments on men’s sports with regard to their level of play and their current results, snarky comments are made about female athletes in terms of their clothing, how revealing it is, how sexy it makes them look. However, this doesn’t mean women’s sport shouldn’t be televised. In fact, it needs to be, for the sake of the girls’ careers.
Overall, I think the lack of media coverage for women’s sports is incredibly embarrassing. If you want to know more about gender inequality in the sporting world, I recommend this study conducted by the University of Southern California called Gender In Televised Sports. It presents a range of statistics, facts and analyses (and very little opinion. Gender inequality in sport is not an opinion. It’s a fact.)