25 Year Study Shows Coverage of Women’s Sports on Televised News and Highlights Shows Remains Very Low

womens-soccerThe last quarter century has seen a dramatic movement of girls and women into sports, but, according to a new study, this social change is not reflected in televised sports news and highlights shows.

“’It’s Dude Time!’: A quarter century of excluding women’s sports in televised news and highlight shows,” is a five-year update to a 25-year longitudinal study, conducted by Cheryl Cooky (Purdue University), Michael Messner, and Michela Musto (University of Southern California). The research, sponsored by the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy (SHARP) Center, indicates that the quantity of coverage of women’s sports in televised sports news and highlights shows remains dismally low. Network affiliate sports news programs devoted only 3.2% of broadcast time to women’s sports. ESPN’s SportsCenter devoted a scant 2% of broadcast time to women’s sports. The study also includes a qualitative analysis of coverage of women’s and men’s sports.

The study is published in Communication ? Sport, with this abstract:

The last quarter century has seen a dramatic movement of girls and women into sport, but this social change is reflected unevenly in sports media. This study, a 5-year update to a 25-year longitudinal study, indicates that the quantity of coverage of women’s sports in televised sports news and highlights shows remains dismally low. Even more so than in past iterations of this study, the lion’s share of coverage is given to the “big three” of men’s pro and college football, basketball, and baseball. The study reveals some qualitative changes over time, including a decline in the once-common tendency to present women as sexualized objects of humor replaced by a tendency to view women athletes in their roles as mothers. The analysis highlights a stark contrast between the exciting, amplified delivery of stories about men’s sports, and the often dull, matter-of-fact delivery of women’s sports stories. The article ends with suggestions for three policy changes that would move TV sports news and highlights shows toward greater gender equity and fairness.

Read a news piece about the study on the University of Southern California website.  View the entire report on the Communication & Sport web page.

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