Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Women gone wild"?

Mike Downey's Chicago Tribune sports column uses the Dana Jacobson incident to announce that women (surprise!) can "make a complete, utter, politically incorrect jackass of herself, just like a man." He then cites other incidents over the past year to make his case. My question: Why is gender a point of discussion when it is associated with a woman? And why would we expect any differently from women than from men unless we're buying into the myth that women are somehow "purer" than men? That ideology is embedded in sexist notions about the place and abilities of women in society.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

No diversity? No surprise.

A survey of major sports news sites on the Web posted on The Big Lead bemoans the lack of racial minorities with bylines on sites such as Yahoo and Fox Sports. The numbers are dismal, to be sure, but they need more context, as some of the comments point out. They also point to a larger problem that goes well beyond sports departments in any newsroom (lack of racial diversity in general, especially in the print ranks). The blog entry also focuses on racial disparities when those involving gender are much greater.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Do women watch?

A recent post on the Women's Hoops Blog quotes broadcaster Beth Mowins bemoaning what she believes is a major reason that networks don't show women's sports: women don't watch them. For hard-core fans of women's sports, this is hard to believe. Yet our focus groups with women last year found little evidence that middle-aged women with busy families and careers would take the time to watch women's sports. Our participants indicated that they watched men's sports primarily to connect with husbands, boyfriends, and other significant men in their lives.

Friday, January 18, 2008

More exposure for women's sports

Buried underneath the avalanche of stories about the fiasco at Golfweek is news that earlier this week, Women's Sports Television announced a partnership with Suncastv.com. Viewers will see coverage of National Women's Football Association games along with events in the Women's Pro Racquetball Tour, Women's Professional Rodeo and International Softball Federation, according to a release. Women's football games may also be available on a regional sports network in Pittsburgh. FSN Pittsburgh is talking to the Passion about televising some of the team's home games.

Monday, January 14, 2008

No comment.

Lead from today's Associated Press story about the Australian Open: "Wearing fuchsia bicycle shorts and a headband, a short white dress and dangling, chandelier-inspired earrings, Serena Williams found her form quickly and beat Jarmila Gajdosova, 6-3, 6-3, today in the first match at the Australian Open."

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Disability and sports: Defining 'normal'

A colleague pointed out a Poynter.org column posted before Christmas that I had missed, but it is worth noting. Susan LoTempio, AME for Readership at The Buffalo News, wrote about "better-off-dead" framing that is common in stories about injured athletes. The recent example she used is the story of NFL player Kevin Everett, whose spine was seriously injured. She writes:
    "In our athlete-as-hero worshipping culture, there seems no greater tragedy for an athlete than to be "normal" one day and "not normal" the next. That's why, when an athlete gets hurt, you get dramatic language in stories and headlines like, "fallen hero suffering the ultimate tragedy" or "waging an inspirational fight for his life."

    In other words, we in the media perpetuate the definition of what is normal. And while it makes great copy, it assumes that the athlete's life may as well be over because he will never walk again, never play again, never be "whole" again."

LoTempio provides excellent recommendations for writing about athletes with injuries. She points out that wheelchair-users do lead "normal" lives -- many of them involving sports participation.