Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 15th 2015 Contents A51
Monday, June 15, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
In a USA study titled Gender in Televised
Sports: News and Highlight shows 1989-2014,
sport sociologists Cook, Messner and Musto
concluded that the "quantity of coverage of
Women s sports in televised sports news and
highlights shows was dismally low."
This poor rating came against a backdrop of
tremendous changes in gender relations and
issues on American society especially since post
1970 s. More specifically, since Title IX (1972),
there have been tremendous improvements in
the rates of participation by females in American
society. One of the best examples of this growth
of females in sports is on football (soccer), which
has resulted in the USA being powerhouse in
international women s football.
The objective of the study was to examine
changes and continuity over time in media report-
ing of gendered sports. There were several research
questions some of which would be of relevance
if the study was to be conducted in T&T and
the wider Caribbean:
• In what ways do televised sports news media
cover men s and women s sports?
• What is the amount of coverage given to
men s and women s sports events?
• Do the production values of men s sports
differ from that of women s sports?
Getting women in the spo(r)t light
• What is the quality of coverage of men s sports
vis-a-vis women s sports?
• Are women s sports covered in ways that highlight
athletic competence or in ways that trivialise women s
• Does the coverage focus on competitive aspects
of women s sports, including games/matches, game
highlights, scores and statistics, outcomes and sig-
• Does the coverage sexualise, trivialise or portray
women as objects of sexual humour?
Some of the findings of the study are:
• There have been some improvements in amount
of airtime provided to women s sports but it has been
incomparable to the coverage of men s sports especially
as it relates to the Big 3-baseball, basketball and grid
iron football. This was common on ESPN Sports Cen-
• There has been a decline in the presentation of
women as sexualised humour. Examples in local sports
will be when people comment about female cricketers
hitting the ball like a man or female footballers kicking
the ball like a man. The comments are made in the
context that some female sporting abilities challenge
the dominant expected view as to how females are
to behave especially in sports. As such it is not
uncommon to hear murmurs from males and females
questioning the sexuality of the female players.
• The decline in the sexualisation is a reflection of
a greater degree of respect being shown to female ath-
• However, at the same time, the findings indicate
that women were now being viewed for their roles as
mothers. There is nothing wrong with this approach
if the same was applied to male athletes.
• Men sports are presented with greater excitement
and expectations as compared to the dull presentation
of Women s sports.
In terms of recommendations, the researchers had
three major suggestions directed toward medial hous-
es:I. Greater equity in the amount of coverage. It does
not mean it has to be matching minute by minute of
coverage, but there must be substantial quality of the
coverage. This would allow for women athletes to be
seen as no different from their male counterparts in
terms of how they are presented.
II. In addition to quantity, there is need for quality.
A greater effort has to be demonstrated from production
values to the presentation of the sports news and the
III. In order to accomplish both quantity and quality,
the onus is on the media houses to hire or retain sports
anchor personnel who can lead and maintain the
change. The authors argue that sometimes doing the
same thing religiously becomes a tremendous challenge
to effect change. Furthermore, it will be wise to utilise
both male and female personnel who are knowledgeable
and objectively passionate about sporting equity across
gender et al.
It is important to note that the suggestion of hiring
females to cover all aspects of sports will not auto-
matically result in the desired change. It has been
shown that female sports media personnel may some-
times use the dominant male sporting framework as
This may take place because they accept this male
framework as "normal" and it must be perpetuated
in order to survive in the field of sport journalism..
It will be interesting to apply this study research
questions to the local context especially as there have
been a growth in television and radio sports shows.
Also it will be a good research exercise to ascertain
over time, whether or not the coverage of women s
sports has reflected the gender changes that have
taken place in the society since Independence.
I would not be surprised if some of the findings of
this study are manifested in a similar national study.
However, such a study would provide a guide as to
what has happened in gender sports coverage. Also
media houses, reporters, commentators and sponsors
can use the opportunity to demonstrate their contri-
bution to gender equity in local sports.
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