Women's Sport and Spectacle: Gendered Television Coverage and the Olympic Games

Women's Sport and Spectacle: Gendered Television Coverage and the Olympic Games

Women's Sport and Spectacle: Gendered Television Coverage and the Olympic Games

Women's Sport and Spectacle: Gendered Television Coverage and the Olympic Games

Synopsis

Historically, the mass media have marginalized women's sports by devoting more coverage to men's sports and trying to appeal to a male audience. This volume analyzes the mass media's portrayal of women's sports. The Olympic games are highlighted because they provide one of the few sports arenas where women's participation is heavily covered, promoted, and celebrated. The author suggests the media are recognizing the significance of female spectatorship and are attempting to respond to this growing audience by adopting some of the rhetorical and textual characteristics of soap opera and melodrama.

Excerpt

This book represents over seven years of studying the triathlon of women, media, and sports. Unlike for many sports scholars, this topic was not a natural extension of my sporting life as a child or as a varsity athlete in high school or college. In fact, my adolescent involvement in sport was quite the opposite. I graduated from high school in 1972, the year of Title IX legislation. At that time my high school sponsored no girls' sport teams, except for basketball, or extracurricular activities. My limited exposure to sport came in gym class where we played basketball, volleyball, softball, field hockey, and some track-and-field activities. One of the few opportunities for girls to play sports outside of class was in the annual powderpuff football game where the juniors challenged the seniors in a game of touch football. The girls were coached by the male football players, who doubled as the team cheerleaders. Donned in cheerleading drag, the boys were far more of a sporting spectacle than we were, so even our most limited opportunity to play sports was upstaged, having been constructed deliberately as a farce. By the next Friday night, a week later, the roles were reversed, with the girls retreating to the bleachers and the boys to the football field as sports patriarchy reasserted its hold.

I didn't think much about sport or engage in any regular sporting activity for the next several years. I tended to favor recreational activities of a more sedentary nature, although I did take an occasional swim or aerobics class. In the mid-1980s I returned to school . . .

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