Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Young Women Talking Sports and Careers: A Glimpse at the Next Generation of Women in Sport Media

Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Young Women Talking Sports and Careers: A Glimpse at the Next Generation of Women in Sport Media

Article excerpt

Abstract

As the American public is confronted with a more established female sport presence at all levels, the potential for girls to consider a career in sport media has expanded exponentially. Girls growing up in the age of 'GRRL Power' envision themselves as professional basketball players, world champion soccer stars, women who run like the wind, and as sports broadcasters. However, the dawn of a new age has also brought with it increasing complexity with regard to the issues aspiring young women seeking careers in sport media encounter. The overall purpose of this study was to extend the frame of our understanding about gender, sport, and the media by documenting the experiences, concerns, and attitudes of undergraduate females who hope to pursue careers as sports journalists, sports broadcasters, and sport media professionals. Based on interviews with ten undergraduate women, the next generation of women in sport media are more than prepared to take on with confidence, assertiveness, and a great deal of solid pr ofessional training the challenges that await them.. However, even as undergraduates, these women have had to deal with, and make sense, of sexual objectification and sexism in the workplace. The article concludes with recommendations for how to support young women in their quest to pursue careers in sport media.

Introduction

Throughout the past 150 years, involvement in sport has often served as a symbol of the social and political status of women not only in the United States but in an array of countries world-wide. At the start of the new millennium, prospects for women's sport and women in the sport workforce appear promising (Navarro, 2001). In the 2000 Olympic Games alone nine new events, including what have been thought to be exclusively "male" events such as the pole vault and hammer throw, were offered to women for the first time ("Women Get Nine New Shots At Gold", August 22, 2000). The record numbers of women who competed in the Sydney Olympics demonstrated that the momentum leading to a mass effect in the growth of women's sport, as pointed out by Wendy Hilliard, former president of the Women's Sports Foundation (WSF), following the 1996 "Games of the Woman" Olympics, had not diminished (Thames, 1996). This momentum shift is expected to continue well into the next two decades and culuminate in what Donna Lopiano (2000) , predicts will be a "golden age" of women's sports. The spring, 2001 launch of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) with its unprecedented firm financial grounding in television and corporate sponsorship support bears testament to this prophecy (Whitney, 2001).

The magnitude and type of sport participation to which females have access functions as a litmus test for assessing the degree to which women have historically asserted control over their individual and collective destinies. Contrasts between the corseted women who played Clara Baer's basquette on courts divided into 18 or 24 sections in the late 1890s (Sack & Staurowsky, 1998) to the comparative freedom of modem day WNBA players like the now legendary Cynthia Cooper provide a baseline for measuring just how far women have come in sport (Anderson, 2000).

However, the opportunity to play, by itself, is not sufficient. In order to be a full partner in the sport experience, and in society overall, one must have a voice that is not only heard, but is regarded as valuable. In metaphorical terms, the "voice" of sport is the media.

And just as the institution of sport has yet to fully recognize women in the panoply of sport leadership roles (Acosta & Carpenter, 2000; Miller, 1998), so too has it been extremely slow in allowing women to speak and be heard on the topic of sport (Hertz, 2000).

Notably, the territory of sport still contains the vestiges of longstanding ambivalencies and prohibitions against women speaking up and speaking out, vestiges rooted in the Victorian era of the late 1800s that once led to campaigns for women's right to vote and to speak in public (Sherrer, 1996). …

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