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  • Writer's pictureLexie Bray

A Look Into Sports Media and Gender

Updated: Oct 11, 2022

With spring rapidly approaching it also brings the end to winter season NCAA sports. The most notable tournament being March Madness, which was under even more public eye than ever before given the exposure of the difference of the Men’s and Women’s tournament last season.

Now, the NCAA and March Madness is mainly to blame for the disaster that was the treatment women’s teams got at the tournament last season, but it highlights a major issue of how women’s sports are overall portrayed by and in the media. As it is a multifaceted issue, we’re going to dive into is how men vs women are portrayed in sporting goods advertising.

Think of big sporting goods companies, such as Nike, Under Armour, etc. what do they all have in common? They only recently changed how female athletes are portrayed in their ads. Now, each brand has had varying degrees of success since they began, but they have becoming more and more equal between genders but there is still a divide there.

Advertising reflects society. Advertisers can only push the boundaries so far when it comes to making change, although this is discussing gender in sports advertising, think of the backlash Nike received following the Collin Kaepernick commercial when it first aired. As good as it is to challenge these societal issues, brands biggest concern will always be the profits they can make, otherwise there will no longer be a brand. This isn’t to say that they shouldn’t push the boundaries, they just have to be careful in doing so.

Part of this divide is also due to the lack of women’s sports that are shown in the media. If women’s sporting events are on tv, it is often on a specialized channel or something that isn’t in a basic channel pack like the men’s sports are. This was something that did change this season with March Madness, with women’s games also being shown on a channel that would be in the basic channel pack.

With women’s sports beginning to garner more and more attention, it makes it even easier for advertisers to have more athletes that are known in their advertisements, whether video or photography. People aren’t asking for much when it comes to equality of the sexes in sporting goods advertisements, just that they are all shown as active and powerful.

March Madness last season exposed something that was long known, women’s sports are not thought of as equal to men’s. This is something that is reflected in advertising. By making sure that male and female athletes are represented equally and fairly in advertisements those companies will have an increase in revenue, as people support companies that makes them feel supported.

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