When sports media first began, it was predominantly male sporting events that got the most of the attention; female sports were almost irrelevant for quite a while. Producers saw male sport as more interesting and important. As you may have noticed, all of the events spoken about in the “the beginning of sports media” section are all male sports. The media was evidently more encouraged to get men’s sport on the television and make it more accessible than women’s sport. It was seen as far more important and entertaining than in 2003, HD television created a highly improved experience for spectators at home watching the game on live TV. Watching games in the highest possible resolution (and on bigger, brighter screens) makes sure that viewers get to see everything, and in greater detail than ever before. Being able to see the players actions and every move in clear definition makes fans feel more connected to the players but it also makes it more realistic for them- therefore increasing the excitement over sports events such as football matches but also world events such as the Olympics as they can watch sports such as gymnastics in perfect definition, meaning the elegance of their routines was portrayed so much more than when sport first came to television.
Soon after HD sports broadcasting, the public were able to access live sports on the internet. Streaming video over the internet first began in the 1990s; this was an audio stream from a Yankees and Mariners game in 1995. This was the first example of streaming sports on the radio; however bandwidth and hardware issues hindered the medium from getting any real traction until 2005.
Major League Baseball was a very common sport when it came to online broadcasting. ESPN was (and still is) at the front of the movement by creating their new online-only network which is named ESPN3.com. This was launched as an on-demand service in 2005, this means that anyone could watch it when they wanted to, it was not live sport, and it was previously recorded sport so people could catch up if they couldn’t watch it at the time it first was on television. However, it now broadcasts hundreds of live events and then also stores many of them for on-demand viewing later on for the people that want to watch it at a later date or for people that wish to re-watch the event. Nowadays, even obscure sports and leagues that don’t get the opportunity to be broadcasted by the big networks can use the internet as a ‘home’ for their videos and performances/matches.
Lastly, the development of three-dimensional televisions from 2008 onwards means that watching sports broadcasting at home may become as realistic as actually being at the event. However, three-dimensional televisions are only owned by the minority of the population meaning it will not have a serious impact on the way of sports broadcasting until it develops a more popular culture (mainstream item where majority of the population have one. The expense of these high technology televisions means that working class families (who make up the biggest percentage of the population) cannot afford the televisions, ultimately meaning that three-dimensional sports broadcasting will not be a popular culture until the prices drop to a price that people can actually afford. Furthermore, to experience the event in 3D, you must where the glasses that create the illusion – this ultimately turns people away from wanting the experience. This may change if an inventor is able to create a three dimensional television that does not require assistance to be three-dimensional, it is 3D no matter if you wear the glasses or not. If this invention ever occurs, there is a possibility that sports broadcasting will become the most realistic it has ever been from a media perspective.
The start of creating equality within the sports world for women was in 1943. The world was currently in midst of World War II, and at that time, baseball was seen to be the U.S.A’s most popular and unifying sport. Due to the war, there was absence of high amounts of men playing sport; instead they were out fighting for their country and alliances. Therefore, there were not enough men to keep the nation’s professional baseball league in action. In response to this absence, the first ever professional female sports team known called the All-American Girls Baseball League was born. Women participated in this league for more than a decade, and attendances as well as popularity in spectating were both extremely high, reaching 900,000 fans by the late 1940s.
Sadly, after the war ended and men returned home, more men began to play sport again. For the women, this meant that there was a lot less attention from both spectators and the media for women’s sport. There was a huge increase of televised major league matches (all of which were male events) which eventually led to the end of the All-American Girls Baseball league in 1954. This shows that to start with, women and sports media was seen as a replacement only, not a fixed article section. However, it can be argued that it wasn’t entirely the media’s fault that the league ended. Women were going back to their husbands and starting families causing them to not be able to participate anymore. The 1954 season (the last ever season for the league) ended with only five teams remaining. These teams were: Fort Wayne, South Bend, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Rockford.
For women, this was the first time they had been respected within the world of sport. Unlike men who have been seen as heroic sportsman for decades, even centuries beforehand. The male gender had the media’s attention left right and centre, leaving women sport to be almost invisible and rarely played unless (like the All-American Girls Baseball league) there was a reason that men were not able to play sport and entertain the crowds. Although, even in today’s time, where we are fighting for equal rights between genders in almost everything; sports media is still a male dominant matter.
However, the women who participated in this league were never forgotten. In 1992 (just under 40 years after the All-American Girls Baseball league had come to an end and the women went back to their own “normal” lives), a movie about the women that began the change within the division of gender in sports was made. The film was directed by Penny Marshall and stars Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, and Lori Petty. It doesn’t tell the full truth of the girls’ journey but a fictionalised version in order to make it a comedy/drama. Even though it was a fictionalised version, the main parts of the film are real life events, emotions and discrimination that these women were put through throughout their drive to succeed. The creation of this movie in 1992 shows that the outlook on women and their participation in sport and their place within sports media is changing with time. Women’s sport is coming to be much more accepted and historic sports women are often honoured in the media for helping to change the view of women in sport.
There is still a noticeable lack of female sports coverage within the media. Sponsorships are therefore going to also be male dominant as it will be seen much more on a male athlete due to increased sports media. This may also be a cause of the shocking female athlete salary statistics that prove that even in modern times; there is still a huge gender divide within sport as a whole, not just media coverage. In 2014, it was found that most of the major sports networks such as BBC sport devoted only a tiny segment of 5% of airtime to female sporting events. Furthermore, in some countries female sports coverage in the media has significantly been decreasing for the last 25 years, even though we have more female opportunities and campaigns within sport than ever before. Many sociologists believe this decline is due to the money involved. Male sporting events such as the FA cup are seen to be much more important and costly than female events. The most gender equal sport when it comes down to gender coverage and appreciation of the athletes is tennis. Events that are held on TV channels always include matches from both genders and role models such as Andy Murray and Serena Williams have huge amounts of support from people in their countries regardless of their gender. With these facts and statistics, it is extremely evident that there is most definitely a difference in sports media between the two genders, there always has been.