Opinion: News and media need to press the ‘unmute’ button on women’s sports

Television news continues to ignore women’s sports – and recognition at Mill Valley isn’t much better


Gabby Delpleash, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

In 2012, Olympian Missy Franklin swam one of the greatest races in NCAA history. But you probably didn’t see it. Over 40% of athletes are women, but they get less than 10% of media coverage.

This common apathy aimed by the large media apparatus toward female athletes is the reality of women’s sports, which continue to be almost entirely excluded from television news according to a 2021 USC/Purdue study.

This study on men’s and women’s sports has been conducted every five years since 1989. In the latest study, researchers found that 95% of total television sports coverage as well as the ESPN highlights show “SportsCenter” primarily focused on men’s sports in 2019. Similar lopsidedness was found in social media posts and as well as in online sports newsletter coverage, which were included in the report for the first time since researchers began gathering data three decades ago.

In a separate USC study, news media tends to focus on the “big three” of men’s sports – football, basketball and baseball – creating an audience’s knowledge about and excitement for the same sporting event over and over. Meanwhile, women’s sports continue to get a short shrift, which is significant considering the larger picture of women’s’ efforts to achieve equal opportunities, pay and respect in sports. Subsequently, sports media’s apathy has reached its viewers since female sports received, overall, 27% lesser viewership than men’s sports for the 2020-2021 basketball season.

Women’s sports at Mill Valley have had to deal with the same struggles on a microcosmic scale whether it be playing for a substantially thinner student section at games or simply fighting to be held to the same importance as men’s sports for hosting school events and being the pinnacle sports event to precede a school dance.

“Buick” demonstrated awareness for the marginalization of women’s sports by starting the “See Her Greatness” campaign during this year’s NCAA March Madness tournament. Timing of introducing the campaign’s mission of increasing women’s visibility in sports was clever since its introduction was during a time the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament was being overshadowed by the men’s tournament.

Now, after 30 years of data demonstrating the stagnation of female sports media coverage, there’s reason to be skeptical over if women’s sports will ever get the same attention as men’s. However, recent awareness raised including the recent end to the U.S. women’s soccer team’s long fight for equal pay provides hope that sports media and its viewers are changing their long held jaundice toward women’s sports. We’re all aware of the hard work female athletes put in on the field, so do we care enough to give them our attention for it?

(Visited 148 times, 1 visits today)