Female Athletes in the Media

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It is obvious that male athletes rule the world of sports media. Why are female athletes under represented in the media? Is it because of the simple lack of interest in women’s sports?

I found a documentary created by the Tucker Center for research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota. The film touches on why female athletes do not receive more media coverage despite there involvement with the sports industry. Forty percent of sports participants are female, however; these women only receive 2 to 4 percent of media coverage. There are some amazingly talented female athletes like Maria Sharapova, Li Na, Danica Patrick, and many more. It is unfair that women do not receive recognition for their achievements and skills like the male athletes do. In fact, media coverage of female athletes has actually decreased in the past 20 years. This shocks me because of the expansion of women in sports as well as the growing feminist movement.

When women athletes DO get media recognition, they are often perceived in sexual manner. The female athletes shown in magazines are in sexual poses and wearing scandalous clothing rather than portraying their athleticism by wearing their uniforms. This can be looked at in a positive or negative way: Is it good to show that the athletic female body type can be portrayed as sexy, therefore inspiring women to be confident? Or is the media undermining the skills and talents of the female athletes by focusing on their bodies as sexual symbols?

If you are interested in the documentary, you can watch it on Youtube: Media Coverage and Female Athletes



4 thoughts on “Female Athletes in the Media

  1. That’s surprising to learn coverage of women sport has decreased, despite the large percentage of women involved in professional sport. I think the topic of female athletes using their bodies as sex symbols is highly controversial. Personally I think it is the choice of the athlete the way they decide to use their body. Thousands of male athletes do the same exact thing, yet it is not nearly as touchy of a subject. Cristiano Renaldo is a perfect example of a male who decided to take this route.

    As for women, Ronda Rousey, has the greatest record in Women’s UFC, 12-0. She is making history every match and, in my opinion, has solidified her image as the face of female MMA. Unfortunately, the nature of the sport begins to make viewers associate these women with the men. Rousey took a very bold stance and did a nude photo shoot for ESPN, rightly gaining the cover. This is a positive sex symbol. She reminds the public that she is still a sexual woman and simultaneously empowers, and possibly encourages, women all around the world. She chose to represent herself this way and has every right to do so. So if men can make this choice why can’t women?

    Sorry for the long reply but I think this is a very interesting topic to discuss. Great read!


  2. Before reading this article, I never really realized how little media coverage women athletes receive. In a generation where women are finally being recognized having the capability of doing most of the things men can do, such as continuing with education or receiving a career in a certain field, I feel like it’s odd that they aren’t being recognized in the sports area as much. Maybe this is due to trying to not cross lines with gender roles and protecting mens’ masculinity ? Maybe it’s due to the fact that most guys aren’t attracted to women who are physically as strong as them? I think that the media portraying women as being “sexy” can be a good thing, for in todays society the whole issue with body image has become such a sensitive topic, but I feel that portraying women as being strong would be a more proper way to go about it. If the media is focusing solely on their physical appearance rather than their talents and capabilities, then they’re basically promoting them as models rather than athletes.


  3. I find this really interesting as well. It is funny to think that every time I flip through the channels, men’s sports is always broadcasted. Men’s sports do receive all of the attention and I am really curious why women athletes and sports in general do not gain as much interest from the media and public. As for the way women are presented, the media has learned what gets the most attention and continues to exploit women’s bodies in order to do so. It most definitely takes away from their athletic success since the focus shifts from athleticism and achievements, to appearance and sex appeal.

    – Claire Brigham


  4. I agree that it is up to the women to decide how they portray themselves to the world, but I think the media encourages women to use sexual postures and clothing in order to be more marketable. It is the media that has to change, not the athletes. They should give female athlete more attention and recognition.

    -Maddie Miller


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