Monday, March 30, 2015

The real MarchMadness: Where are the girls?

As a female athlete, this issue has frustrated me my entire life. Where are women's sports on TV?

Growing up I wondered where the Michael Jordan or Derek Jeters (or fill in the blank of several hundred other male sports stars) were for female athletes... and sadly, you could count them on one hand (Mia Hamm, The Williams twins and more recently gymnasts Shawn Johnson and Gaby Douglas). But all of those names rose at a time when they were at their highest level of competition on a worldwide stage. Not March madness. Not even a regular match.

Would anyone even know that both the mens and women's tournaments run at the same time? No.  Could you watch a women's game easily if you wanted to? No.
What are we suggesting here?


  1. We're suggesting that the media consuming public does not care about watching women compete in athletics - which raises the bigger issue of not wanting to watch women do much of anything. The difference between men's and women's sports is definitely reflected in the payment of female athletes. Women in the WNBA make so little compared to their male counterparts, that many of them have to play overseas to even begin to compete salary-wise:

  2. One component and reason why American men's sports are so much more visually prevalent than women's is the high potential of advertising revenues and escalating television contracts surrounding male sports. I was just in Ralph's earlier today and in one of the aisles there was a snack food set up with NCAA March Madness ads all over it. The March Madness streaming app is riddled with product logos and adverts. As much as I like Coach K as a Duke alumn, Geno Auriemma, head coach for UCONN's women basketball team is one of the most winningest coaches in all of college sports, has won 9 National Championships with the Huskies (en route to a possible 10th), and yet remains sort of obscure compared to his counterparts coaching men's college basketball, who either regular flee from program to program or are consistently fighting against NCAA violations. It's sad and upsetting to think that the visibility of female sports might only increase for the general public if advertisers and corporate entities were able to uncover high potential revenue outlets. If advertisers and broadcast companies felt incentivized through lucrative and potential brand visibility, they might actually support the broadcasting of female athletics. I feel like it has little to do with success, since our women's soccer team is so much more successful than our men's, yet men's soccer as a profitable enterprise garners more airtime and public visibility.

  3. As a Duke alum and former Duke women's basketball manager, there was definitely a discrepancy between the men's and women's basketball games. At Duke, students tent outside in k-ville for weeks to get into the Carolina game, and do no such thing for the women. I've noticed that in games like tennis, people tune in to both men and women playing. However, part of the draw to men's basketball is the physical capabilities of players like Lebron James and Kobe Bryant in the NBA and players like Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor (gotta rep my devils) in college. I think a lot of it has to do with the pace and physicality of the game. Women's basketball is played with more finesse and technical skill, whereas men's is played with a lot of awe inducing physicality (via dunking, etc). It sucks because there are definitely some powerhouse women players, but they don't get the notoriety or recognition they deserve.