My learned Colleague I Beg to Differ: Women’s Sports and Coverage in the Mainstream Media

The blog post, “Women’s Sports and Coverage in the Mainstream Media” written by user ashdh, argues that women’s sports need to be covered on television more often. The author of this posts bases their argument off of Professor LaVaque-Manty’s chapter on Being a Women and Other Disabilities. The author goes on to speak about how women have been prevented from pursuing athletics as the same way as men. This part I feel is more true than blaming the lack of televised sports for women on gender norms and institutional barriers that have dictated what you can and can not do based on your gender. I am completely for pushing for more airtime for women’s sports, yet it needs to be understood that airtime is based off of revenue from the respected sport. In this, it is not that people are against women’s sports and don’t want them to be aired, it is about the big television stations that are in control of playing these sporting events based on the revenue they gain. More people are watching mens sports because of the level they play at compared to that of women’s sports, making it hard for them to become popular on television.

In the post, it goes on to say that while participation in women’s sports has gone up, the media coverage is still lacking compared to men’s sports. The author says that as a society, we do not care enough about making opportunities for women in sports. While these women’s sports are not being aired, they are still given the chance to go pro into almost any sport they desire. Examples of this are the NBA vs. WNBA, MLB vs. National Pro Fastpitch, PGA vs. LPGA. Just because people do not realize the difference between men and women’s sports, and understand that in watching them they will be at a different level, does not mean we do not care about women’s sports. It simply means that more viewers prefer to watch male sports to women’s sports. This is not something that will end the WNBA and take away their opportunities. I feel that until women’s teams such as the WNBA are able to get a large enough attendance to receive a revenue that could pay for quality airing times and advertisements, women need to play for the love of the game and not compare their sports to that of men’s.

In the last paragraph of this post, the author makes the statement that the lack of coverage of women’s sports in the mainstream media, whether or not they are as entertaining to spectators or as lucrative to sponsors as their respected male counter sports, shows that people do not care as much about the pursuit of women as men. In this statement, the author is in a way blaming women for not being able to perform to the level of men, and to then make women’s sports not as enjoyable to watch. While their is a larger viewer base for male sports, it does not mean that people do not care about the pursuit of women in their respected sports. This is a big stretch when connecting it to people who enjoy watching mens sports over women’s sports. These people are not purposely hurting women’s sports, they are simply watching what gives them joy, most times being mens sports because it is most times at a faster pace.

Washington Mystics

Cleveland Cavaliers Quicken Loans Arena

In this post, it argues that women’s sports lack mainstream media coverage. This is in part due to the lack of attendance at games, which gives them little money to spend on airtime and advertising, after paying the players. The Washington Mystics, a WNBA team, has been known for their attendance records in their league. They have multiple banners that hang in their stadium saying “Attendance Champions.” This team was able to get these self-proclaimed awards by bringing in anywhere from a high of 20,000 fans in 1998 to around 18,000 fans in 2004. Yet in the years leading up to 2012, the number of fans has decreased. In 2012 they brought in a high of 12,569 fans. This number of fans can be compared to the attendance of the Cleveland Cavaliers in their 2012 season. The Cavaliers were in the middle of the average attendance for the NBA, and their average attendance per game was 15,926 fans. Wrapping this up, the WNBA team who in the past years has proclaimed themselves as “Attendance Champions” were beaten out by a team in the NBA who was in the middle of the pack for attendance by about 3,000 fans.

These statistics about attendance of WNBA compared to that of the NBA show that ESPN, Fox, NBC and so on are in the business for business. They will show the viewers what they want to see, and make a large profit from it. While this cannot be looked past, I do not think the little airtime of women’s sports comes down to general norms and institutional barriers. I think there is a bigger picture, such as the television stations, which will take years to change, and movements to hopefully sway people to gain recognition of women’s sports.

Mitch McGary dunking against Syracuse

The main differences between the popularity and the overall success of mens sports to women’s sports is the level that the games are being played at. Men play at a faster pace in most sports, harder hits, faster pitching, and more explosive plays overall. These are attractive to viewers over a slower pace, less exciting game that women most times play. An example of this is dunks in the NBA. Dunks happen all the time in the NBA, occurring game after game.  While for the WNBA it is viewed as a huge accomplishment when a women dunks.  The sports are evolving making them closer to each other, yet they will never be the same. It is little differences like this that sway viewers to mens sports over women’s sports.