Are Women's Sports at a Standstill?
by Kristen Zerbato, Northeastern University, December 4, 2008
Despite the titanic leap women’s athletics has taken over the past three decades, men’s sports still receive more coverage on television news and sports highlights shows. University of Southern California professor, Michael Messner, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor, Margaret Carlisle Duncan, conducted research on the exposure of women’s sports in 1989 and it has been updated every five years since.
As a recap: Title IX, enacted in 1972, is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity at any educational institution that is a recipient of federal funds. It is recognized as a milestone of women’s rights in history. Briefly, in the history of women’s sports there have been a number professional leagues established: baseball, golf, bowling, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and softball. However, many have been dissolved due to financial difficulties. The remaining professional women’s leagues that receive media coverage, though not a considerable amount, are the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
Messner suggests that the growth of women’s sports is in no way reflected in mainstream media coverage and that it is “really an almost continuous cacophony of men’s voices telling us about men’s sports” (Coverage of Women’s Sports). In comparison to the type of coverage being made in 1989 to the present, there were less frequent trivializations and humorous sexualization of women.
There has been an obvious increase in the participation of females in sports since Title IX was put into effect, but how long will women’s sports strive for equality? Today’s generation of females, for the most part, do not feel the impact of Title IX as much as their mothers or grand mothers did. Even with the development of grassroots level sports leagues in a variety of sports for girls, it is seen that the participation rate and access to sport and physical activity, due to lack of resources for young females in urban communities, are lower then that of their male counterpart and girls from suburban and rural communities (Sabo 2008).
Some of the questions that need to be confronted in order for women’s sports to advance amongst a more diverse crowd are: how can women’s sports attract a more eclectic group of fans? How can the current media's attention be more effective? Why are women’s sports still seen as inferior or less entertaining to men’s? Until these questions start to become resolved it’s disappointing to say that women’s sports will continue a standstill of progression.
"Coverage of Women’s Sports at Standstill." USC - University of Southern California.
23 Oct. 2008. Standstill.
Sabo, Don, and Phil Veliz. " Go Out and Play: Youth Sports in America - Women's
Sports Foundation." Home - Women's Sports Foundation. 23 Oct. 2008
Go Out And Play.
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