Posts Tagged ‘Sports Journalism’

According to The Nutz blog, it seems to be only what we look like, not so much how well we play…

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Check out this video of Donna Lopiano, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation. In this clip, she explains why media networks do not support women’s sports as much as men’s.
“It has no relation to public interest,” Dr. Lopiano says, “and our only hope lies in the digital universe.”
Like I said before, the only hope for coverage of women’s sports is in the digital universe, and I believe the answer lies right here in the blogosphere. We just need to build our community.

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Because my most popular post thus far (recieving over 2,000 hits) is that of Dara Torres, I feel compelled to announce that she has achieved what many have deemed impossible: on Sunday, she qualified for her fifth Olympic games, beating American-record holder, Natalie Coughlin by 0.05 for a spot on the

Apparently, she rose from the pool to the sound of Lenny Kravitz’s American Woman blaring over the loudspeakers in Omaha on Sunday.

In terms of journalism, Olympic fandom and what’s deemed important in female sports, it seems middle-aged moms everywhere are stepping up to the plate in support and congratulations of this swimming heroine.

Karen Crouse of the New York Times could not say it any better,

“Michael Phelps, who lowered his world record in the 200 individual medley Friday, has a fan base supplemented by squealing girls. Torres is a big hit with their mothers. The support she received from the crowd of around 14,000, which rose to applaud her after she finished, made her teary.”

Torres is truly an inspiration to women everywhere; not only living the dream as an athlete overcoming the inevitable challenge of age, but also as a female who has successfully caught the attention of sports journalists, who are overwhelmingly preoccupied with competition among men. I hope Torres continues to draw attention, bring it all the way to Beijing, and then back home again. Lord knows we need it.

Another thing to note about Torres is her journey, which has lived through the age of acceptance of female athleticism.

The New York Times article eloquently puts her journey into words:

“It takes a person of a certain age to remember the days when female swimmers rarely competed after high school because there were no college scholarships for women to entice them to stay in the sport. That was in the early 1970s. Torres, who competed at Florida, and Thompson, who went to Stanford, were in the second wave of women to benefit from the changes brought about by the passage of Title IX.

Biondi, who was on the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympic teams with Torres, said, “When girls become women, when gentlemen graduated from college, it wasn’t explicitly stated, it was just an understanding there that you were to get on with your life.”

Torres, he added, “has blown the roof off that line of thinking.”

And, my friends, that is what will make her a significant part of history. That is, if she ever retires.

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When I was younger, I was an avid reader of Sports Illustrated for Women. To my recent surprise, I visited the SI for Women Web site and was shocked at what I found. This message from the editor:

“It is with especially deep sadness that we tell you the bad news: The December 2002 issue will be Sports Illustrated Women’s last. These are tough times for a new magazine, and sometimes even loyal readers aren’t enough to make the numbers add up.”

This really saddens me. The magazine only lasted two years, running from March 2000-Nevember 2002. Its primary audience, according to Wikipedia, was women, 18-34 years old, with “a passion for sports.”

What’s even more interesting to me, is that in 2002, Cleary Simpson the then-publisher for SI Women claimed that the lack of readership (and eventual failure of the magazine) is largely due to the fact that, “women are more interested in sports as participants than fans, unlike men.”

Another problem, they claim, is that women’s interest is “fragmented” across a wide variety of sports (such as soccer, tennis or running), with little to bind them as a shared audience.

Personally, I would go as far as to say it’s our cultural values that prevent magazines and publications (as well as some women’s sports) to receive the type of attention they deserve. The primary problem: men aren’t interested (unless the girls are pretty).

It all has to do with advertising, which has everything to do with money, which relates back to what we, as members of a society, deem important enough to invest in.

While our culture values the aggressive, intense competition (and fighting) in sports by men, other values such as sound fundamentals, pure technique and fluid movement (present in women’s sports) are undervalued and deemed less important. In terms of fans, we as women are incredibly left behind.

Think about it: when do you see the top female athletes? Many times, it’s in advertisements, such as models for athletic apparel.

Take for instance Dara Torres, who, while incredibly performing in the Olympic Trials at the age if 41,is also known for her swimsuit modeling on the side. Why? Think: money. Torres is often singled out for her beauty, as she was the first female athlete to appear in the Sports Illustrated (for men) Swimsuit Issue.

Another example is Lisa Leslie of the LA Sparks. When was the last time you saw her perform on TV? When was the last time you saw her in a Got Milk ad, or on a billboard somewhere? Most likely you’d suggest the latter, as she is widely known as the “face” of women’s basketball as a Wilhemina model. But what about her being the most dominant player in the WNBA? Where did that news go?

Leslie (and Torres) make their bucks as a models, not as a top performers, and this (again) relates back to what we as a society value more in a woman: athleticism or beauty? At the end of the day, we’re still a society who’d rather have our girls look good than perform great on the playing field.

Yes, as I said in my post about Title IX, there are (thank God) more opportunities for women to play, and we have come along way in almost 40 years, but we’re still not there.

We can’t even get a Sports Illustrated magazine to be successful. And part of it is our fault. I mean, to be honest, we don’t really have time to sit around and be fans of our sports. Instead, we’re out there trying to make it in corporate America, or we’re spending our free time trying to look good. Some of us are trying to raise families, make dinner, and get the kids back and forth from their sports. A lot of us spend our free time working out in the gym to stay in shape. Few of us have time to be fans of our sports. And that’s another huge reason as to why we can’t get SI for Women to be successful. And my fear is we never will have that time. That is, unless, our culture starts shifting its values.

As someone who now falls into the age category of what would be the readership for SI for women, I say it’s time we call the magazine and request its reappearance, at least on the Web. (These days print magazines aren’t generating the readership revenue they had in the past, largely due to blogs such as mine.) We need more coverage of women’s sports. I mean, seriously, if a 10-year-old girl loves women’s sports, where do we tell them to go read about it? There is a lack here. We need to know what’s being accomplished, and how great our girls are doing on the playing fields of America (and the world).

Until then, girls, we’ll continue to balk at the yearly Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated (for men) — that is, unless one of our stellar athletes is pretty enough to make it on the cover.

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