Are men’s and women’s sports treated equally when it comes to dividing air time on the radio, on television or other forms of media?
Modern sport back in the mid 1800s taught and celebrated dominating masculine values (Coakley & Donnelly, 2009). The idea that men were superior to women because they were more physically skilled, more violent, more courageous, stronger and more powerful (Coakley & Donnelly, 2009). Much of these dominant ideas about masculinity were portrayed through men in the media, transmitted through images, symbols, commercials, and magazines. There are also inequities when comparing men’s and women’s sports in regards to the amount of media coverage, team budgets, high level opportunities and scholarships offered (Coakley & Donnelly, 2009). Sport media has been and is still currently in favour of men’s sport in both quantity of coverage as well as quality (Coakley & Donnelly, 2009).
A study conducted by the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles (masculinity and sports media) reported that 98% of boys between eight and seventeen consume sports media. Those portrayed through sports media establish powerful thoughts and ideas about manliness and masculinity to the public audience, and especially the younger generations. The way that sports are broadcast and the way they seem to highlight the violent and aggressive actions of athletes as exciting and natural ways to express one’s masculine identity, this is reinforcing these types of behaviours and treating them as a socially acceptable norm in a sporting context even if they are unacceptable in a typical everyday setting.
An important phenomenon that the American Title IX of the Education Amendments Act took into consideration is that perhaps by expanding the amount of coverage or emphasizing the presence of women athletes in sport, it could help lessen the hetero-masculine norms currently associated with sports participation.
The simple answer to the initial question is that no, sporting coverage is not equally divided between men and women in the media. However, more sport opportunities have risen for female athletes over the past few years, and society is starting to become more aware of the lack of female coverage in the athletics department. This increase in awareness will hopefully guide companies, commercials and professional athletes to have a more sustainable platform and image for future generations of female athletes who wish to participate in male dominated sports.
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