Female vs. Male Athletes In Sports

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LeBron James, often thought to be the greatest basketball player of all time, can be recognized by the majority of the people around the globe. However, when Elena Delle Donne is mentioned most ponder with a confused look wondering: Who is she? What does she do? This is a common occurrence in society as sports and non-sports fans can quickly identify popular male athletes but have difficulty naming just one female athlete. This supports the fact that many media sources cover more male than female athletes leading female athletes to be hidden away in the shadows of male athletes. Even though both female and male athletes play the same sports, the media portrays them differently through their attire and language. Which affects how female athletes are viewed by society in contrast to male athletes.

Females make up 40% of athletes but only receive 2-4% of media coverage (1). Male athletes on the other hand show a dominance over the media as they are displayed in many public advertisements. When females receive media coverage, the main focus is to sexualize them, as they have more skin exposure. This is more common in the sport magazines of ESPN and Sports Illustrated. As seen in the image of LeBron James, in the Sports Illustrated magazine cover, he can be quickly identified as a basketball player. He is wearing the Cleveland, Ohio jersey and a sweat headband with a grey background. He looks focused, thinking of the game and the moves he can do. The photographers portray him as a wise focused basketball player that thinks of the many play moves he has practiced during his career. The women on the other hand, come across as just another model. The ESPN cover images of women can quickly show how they are sexualized. The cover of the Issue Hot x Cool portrays a woman in a studio setting. The woman cannot be identified with a certain sport as she is shown in a skin tight low V-neck jumpsuit. Her hair is flowing back revealing her chest more. However, when one looks closely there is a small bit of helmet showing. This shows how the photographers did not bother to show her helmet as they were more focused on showing off her body. She is holding a helmet which helps identify that she may be a NASCAR racer. This race car driver and many other female athletes are not represented as athletes but as “hot” women. In contrast, to how women are portrayed through their attire, women are viewed as objects with nice bodies. Many feminists viewing these magazines, may question why female athletes put up with this. Only to find out that with the lack of media coverage forces female athletes to make a decision of getting some media coverage or none at all. However, male athletes have many options from magazines to commercials. There is a great difference between both genders.

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In addition, to the attire, the language used to describe women by commentators portray them as inferior to male athletes. The language used by commentators during the Olympics shows how they do not believe sports to be for women as they would suggest the idea that men were behind the success of female olympists. While, the language used to describe male athletes is solely on the sport that they play and their skills.As can be shown, when a commentator implied that, Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu, depended on her husband after winning the gold medal with a new record(2). However, when a counterpart wins gold, the commentators congratulate them and state that their skills and love for the game helped them succeed. There is a difference between the language used to describe female and male athletes. Female athletes are associated with the words “married”, “pregnant”, and “older”. At the same time, men are associated with the words “strongest”, “fastest”, and “greatest”. Commentators during games /championships often depict female sports as a second class of sport compared to male sports. Even when identifying female athletes playing a sport society not just the commentators say “women's soccer”,and “women’s basketball”, etc.

Even though there has been progress in portraying females as real athletes that participate in professional teams, society continues to treat them as second class athletes. Due to the lack of media coverage over female athletes and their respective sports, viewers might find it boring and slower than male sports(3). Media sources have caused women’s sports to be frowned upon and an alternative when there are no male sports going on. In contrast, male sports are aired in various networks, and a show commenting on the game. Male sports are advertised to the max as everyone knows when the FIFA World Cup, and Super Bowl are. Games are shown in more than 3 channels at a time. However, no one knew that the FIFA Women’s World Cup was this past summer. Also that the women’s US team had two consecutive wins. With the increase in media coverage on women’s sports, society may change their views about female athletes and may come to enjoy the games. Media coverage may change the inequalities women’s sports face.

Media coverage is an important aspect for both male and female athletes but it should also be fair as almost half of athletes are women. The norms of society and culture the world has created that negatively impact female athletes has to be shifted to equality between both genders as they play the same sports. They both have the same love, respect, skills, determination, and pride for the sports that they play professionally in. The new generation should be exposed to both gender sports as the prejudice and negative comments the present society has towards female athletes may decrease or disappear completely. Young girls should watch female athletes accomplish their goals so that they know/understand that gender does not matter. Anyone with the right set of skills can play any sport even the “manly” ones. The time has come to change this aspect of our society and respect female athletes the way that they deserve.

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Female vs. Male Athletes In Sports. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/female-vs-male-athletes-in-sports/
“Female vs. Male Athletes In Sports.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/female-vs-male-athletes-in-sports/
Female vs. Male Athletes In Sports. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/female-vs-male-athletes-in-sports/> [Accessed 18 Jul. 2024].
Female vs. Male Athletes In Sports [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2024 Jul 18]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/female-vs-male-athletes-in-sports/

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