Almost half of all athletes are women, but not even five percent are shown in this country’s media. This is expected to be discussed in the upcoming U of M Tucker Center-TPT2 co-produced Media Coverage and Female Athletes on Channel 2 this Sunday, December 1, at 7 pm.
Tucker Center Associate Director Nicole LaVoi told the MSR during her group’s 20th-year celebration in October that the show features interviews with academic types, coaches, players and the media.
Sadly, this longtime women’s sports reporter wasn’t contacted, but if I had been I would have easily pointed to these examples:
Only two women’s games were shown on ESPN’s college basketball 24-hour tip-off live telecasts despite the availability of three of their eight channels for use during that time.
Fox Sports North shows every Timberwolves game live and replays them at least twice afterwards but annually only shows six Minnesota Lynx games — with no repeats.
Every Big Ten men’s basketball regular season and tournament game (about 175 games total) will be televised either on BTN, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU, but far less than half that total (70 games) are women’s hoops games, and these run on
just three networks: CBS, BTN and ESPN.
Although it’s now hoops season, it’s poor or none with regards to media coverage of other women’s sports. People still talk about how the 2013 NCAA women’s hockey championship wasn’t shown on any television venue locally or nationally.
Funny how the two most successful local teams, the Lynx and Gophers women’s hockey, have combined put up more championship banners (four) in the last three years but get a ton-times less coverage than the men’s teams that mostly have been on the bottom end of the winning ledger over the same time period.
The MSR last week talked to two Black females after a Gophers women’s basketball contest. One, Belinda McSparrow of Apple Valley, said, “I would like to see [women’s hoops] covered a lot more in-depth.”
“I think there’s still that perception that women athletes aren’t as prestigious or as good as men athletes,” added Regina Prather of Burnsville.
“Everybody wants more coverage for women,” said U of M Women’s Basketball Coach Pam Borton, “and getting on TV and [in] newspapers more, but obviously that’s not what people want to see or people want to read.”
The Tucker Center, since its founding, has been studying this and other gender imbalances in sports coverage issues. “It’s the research at the Tucker Center that tries to make a difference and treat women athletes seriously,” notes Director Mary Jo Kane. However, in my attending their events, rarely are discussed the unique issues that Black women in sport are often are faced with.
“I feel people think of race as a separate thing,” believes U of M kinesiology junior Kanesha Bostick, a 2011 Minneapolis Henry graduate. “It’s a touchy subject for a lot of people.” She told the MSR that she is the only Black in a Kane-taught class on sport in a diverse society.
“Not just the Tucker Center, but our field in general does not do enough on race and sport,” confirmed Kane.
Sunday’s Tucker Center-TPT program, if anything, should be informative. But how long must women’s sports and their fans settle for Kibbles ‘n Bits media coverage while men’s sports keep feasting on prime coverage? Perhaps the show will shed some light on this along with offering some doable solutions to such clear disparity in media coverage.
Next: An MSR exclusive interview with BTN President Mark Silverman on his network’s women’s sports coverage
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to [email protected].
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