by Roger Le Grove Rogers
June 15, 2003
Why don't women watch women's sports?--- headline for article in today's New York Times
The article by John Tierney makes a rather feeble attempt to tie it to Title IX as if equal opportunity for women has any connection with watching television. Especially when sports live programs on television are male controlled and managed, just as they are in the printed media.
Women's sports when televised receive little advertising or pre-show publicity compared to the male "sports" such as American football, baseball, or basketball. The amount of promotion for women's events whether on television or at stadiums is less than 5% of that for men's sports. All of the men's sports above are discussed in great detail on radio, newspaper and television for a week before the event, women's sports are rarely mentioned in either media. Could it be because sports departments in all media is controlled and managed by men?
Even the male in charge of research at ESPN is quoted, yet ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC are some of the worst at pre-empting live coverage of women's international soccer to show taped auto races and other male shows. The promotional cost paid by all television stations to promote the men's sports is astronomical. It reminds one of the excuse WSW received from NBC when we forwarded thousands of e-mails to them asking that they televise women's soccer at the 1996 Olympics. The response from them was that they had asked their marketing consultants and had been told that research showed that nobody watched women's soccer on television, a somewhat self fulfilling prediction if it is not available.
The low television ratings for WUSA is also mentioned, but maybe that also has little to do with women and everything to do with a male controlled advertising business that goes for the "big market" areas. The advertised vast television coverage by the religious TV channel PAX for example is not available in many States, WSW receives frequent complaints from many states about this problem, and our reporters have not been able to view games on PAX while in Alabama or Florida.
It has taken years of financial investment to build a large male TV audience for the three most popular professional sports in the USA, why a different standard for women's sports?
One may also ask, who is looking after the children, meals etc. when this male majority is watching television or at a game?
WSW agrees with Donna Lopiano who is quoted in the article as saying "I believe that girls like to play sports as much as boys and will take advantage of the opportunity to play if they are equally encouraged. "
Everybody knows that any perceived problem with Title IX would be resolved if someone had the courage to do something about the mother of all sports inequality, the usage of universities to train professional football players.
The message that the article actually gets across is that a much larger percentage of men are couch potatoes than women.
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