College sport coverage is as sexist and unbalanced as ever. March Madness each year sadly brings this to light, especially in hoops. Men’s post-season tournaments, for example, will get the lion’s share of media coverage while their female counterparts barely get mentioned.
We again tested our aforementioned hypothesis by doing an unscientific analysis of television sports listings usually found on the back pages of the local newspaper’s sports section:
One weekend: Friday, five men’s basketball games, zero women’s games; Saturday, 29 men’s games, five women’s games; Sunday, seven women’s games, four men’s games.
Second weekend: Friday, five men’s games, zero women’s games; Saturday, 22 men’s games, one women’s game; Sunday, seven men’s games, five women’s games.
One weeknight: five men’s games, two women’s games.
Leading the sexist way, so to speak, is the Big Ten Network (BTN), the first of several conference-specific cable channels now on the air. BTN’s original programs include The Journey, a week in the life of Big Ten basketball, one of 17 such men’s sport-oriented shows. There’s no such “Journey” for women’s basketball, only a weekly women’s sports report that airs in the afternoon in a time slot historically for soap operas and game shows.
That’s it, one half-hour devoted to women’s sports each week while the remaining 23 hours of daily programming is all men all the time.
One Saturday night while watching BTN, hopelessly looking for more than score updates found on the bottom of the screen, this columnist listened to the two male announcers endlessly promoting all evening a men’s basketball game scheduled for the next night. Nothing was said, however, about the women’s hoops doubleheader scheduled to air before the over-promoted men’s game that would follow.
“I’m hoping that was an anomaly,” Penn State Women’s Basketball Coach Coquese Washington told me when I made mentioned of this in a post-game interview. Her Lady Lions played Minnesota in one of the aforementioned doubleheaders. “Every time I’m watching the BTN I don’t see that happening.”
This columnist humbly begs to differ with Coach Washington. BTN seems to see men’s hoops, or for that matter men’s sports in general, as its top priority, bottom line, second to none. But the college sport network isn’t alone in its one-sided, man-sided coverage. You name it, whether cable or over-the-air television, radio, newspaper, magazine, Internet – women’s sports, no matter the sport or the time of year, gets the bum rush to the back of the coverage bus.
And it’s not just college sports: WNBA free agency began February 1, and there’s been barely a mention of it. Yet NBA free agency talk virtually started as soon as the season began in late October.
The WNBA draft is next month, and again there’s barely any mention of it. But don’t we already know the NBA draft picks for 2020? Just kidding, but you get the idea.
“I think it speaks to a broader issue that’s happening in our society right now…for women, and respect for women in general,” Washington continued. She easily noted that the imbalance, the continuing disparity in women’s sports coverage that seems not to be getting better anytime soon, “is a microcosm of what’s going on in [our] larger society.”
U of M women’s hockey marches on
Minnesota (24-10-4) currently is the only Gopher team that is still playing in March – the Gophers made the NCAAs by defeating top-ranked Wisconsin 3-1 and won the WCHA tournament championship for the first time since 2014 last Sunday. Then a few hours later the team learned they will face the Badgers again as their opponent, this time in Madison on Saturday. The winner will advance to the 2018 Frozen Four, hosted by Minnesota.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.