Female Athletes and the Media

Female participation in sports can be viewed throughout history but there is still evidence that barriers for women’s participation in sports still exist.  Women have taken strides to become equals to men; however, coverage of female participation in sports by the media is often ignored.  Often times the coverage of women sports focuses on female athletes’ attractiveness and not their ability to play the sport.  Sports spectators are experiencing sports through several different forms of mass media and women are not receiving the same coverage as male athletes. 

Ever since Title IX was passed, participation in the NCAA by women has jumped to 160,000 from fewer than 30,000 (Grau, Roselli, & Taylor, 2007).  The Title IX court decision requires all federally funded programs, including athletics, to provide equal treatment and opportunity for participation for men and women.  Greater female participation in sports should result in greater coverage; however, the coverage of women in sports is not equal to male sports coverage. 

Mass media assumes a greater importance when it comes to sports.  An overwhelming majority of spectators experience sports though some form of mass media.  Research has examined the role of the media in relation to females and sports and it tends to focus on two main issues: the amount of media coverage and the portrayal of women’s sports and female athletes by the media (Bernstein, 2002).

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