Sports and Soaps: Gendered Coverage of the 1992 Summer Games
Traditionally, sports programming is considered the generic preserve of men. Most televised sport targets male viewers, as is evident in both the commercials and the programming itself. The three commercial broadcast networks typically restrict their programming to professional and college sporting events, such as football, basketball, baseball, boxing, golf, tennis, auto racing, and bowling. Sponsors of sports programs tend to include beer, automobile, computer, and telephone advertisers, attempting to target the otherwise hard-to-reach middle-class male viewer. Professional golf and tennis are the only sports in which women's competition is actively promoted and televised.
The Olympic Games, however, attempt to break through the male preserve by targeting female spectators through what critics call "feminine" sport, 1 those sports that attract female participants and, consequently, female viewers. While the dominant audience for sport is men, women do watch certain feminine sports in greater numbers than men, such as figure skating, diving, swimming, and gymnastics.
Overall, the Olympic television audience tends to be far less "gender divided" than the traditional audience for sports programming. CBS's institutional research on the 1992 Winter Games revealed that the audience was dominated by women, "by a 57% to 43% margin over men" (Sandomir, 1992, p. B13). In fact, for the 1992 Summer Games, NBC deliberately programmed the so-called