Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Media's madness about women's athletics

As of 1:00 p.m. on the front page of espn.com, there is nothing about the National Championship game that was played on Tuesday night.

If you got all of your sports news from espn.com, you would likely have missed the women’s NCAA National Championship game entirely last night.

I’m more than mad with what our media has done to help the cause of women’s basketball and women’s sports in general.

For the men’s NCAA National Championship game, days were spent giving credence to the two teams involved: Kansas and Memphis. Espn.com designed a whole new top to its front page, involving cutout pictures of players and coaches as a preview to Monday night’s game.

The next day, Tuesday, the day of the women’s NCAA National Championship game, a feature story on Tiger Woods’ caddie took up the main story spot nearly all day on the Web site. The women’s game preview didn’t show up prominently until about three hours before game time. No fancy headlines. No fancy cutout photos. No extra fanfare.

And now, at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, there is not even one headline link to a story about last night’s game. That was not the case yesterday reporting on the men’s game.

The women’s game was shown on ESPN. The men’s game was shown on the CBS network. My parents, along with countless other people in the world, still don’t have cable or satellite and were barely aware the game was even going on.

I watched the game, and also watched all the promos for ESPN. The cable network actually split-screened for a moment, coming out of a timeout, to highlight Manny Ramirez as he ran the bases to score for the Red Sox on a Placido Polanco error.

Millions of people would have killed CBS had they split-screened to highlight a promo for the nightly news. But apparently since it’s a women’s game, it’s OK to show some disrespect.

Best plays of the day that night on ESPN’s highlights did not include a single play from the women’s championship game. Instead, we watched two highlights for foreign soccer.

And it’s not just this Web site that has me mad, it’s the whole media and pop culture surrounding the sport. It’s the people who still come at me saying they’d rather watch “paint dry” than a women’s or girls’ basketball game.

Sports Illustrated has a link for Tennessee’s title game, as the third in a list of the top stories. An NFL mock draft and NHL previews headline the top feature spot.

Do we have office pools fixed on the women’s bracket? Of course not.

Where is all the fanfare for Tennessee coach Pat Summitt’s eighth National Championship? She is only two away from tying John Wooden’s collection of 10 while at UCLA. The program is one of a handful that has won back-to-back titles.

I’m more than bitter. I’m mad. The disparity has gotten better with time, no doubt, and I applaud that. And when you think of other women’s sports that get no media coverage on any level, that bristles my feathers, too.

It starts with the fans, people. Start buying tickets and going to games. Please prove to the media that women’s basketball is something to get behind. Because when the people want it, the media generally responds.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Preach it Dusty! I agree. However I must admit that I only became a womens bball fan in the last couple years. More this year than any other. I've always been a fan of the UT women, but I'm just a UT fan in general, and it helps that they are good. The last two yrs Ive gone to several MSU womens games. I was lucky enough to become friends with one of the players this year, so I got to go to the tournament in DC as well. The more I watch, the more I like it. It seems that the game is more "pure" and the girls seem to have al lot more passion than the guys. Most guys are just trying to improve their draft stock and have a sence of entiltement just because they play ball. Even for low level teams. The girls are just happy to play and give it their all. I would also love to have a softball team at MSU. I know its been discussed before, but I love watching girls softball. Not only are they very impressive and fun to watch, but they are hot too.

Anonymous said...

You are fresh out of academia where equality is mandated under Title IX. But in the free market, if the viewers aren't interested, the advertisers won't buy. And advertising drive the TV markets. That's the cold, hard reality.
People watch sports to be entertained. They can't — and shouldn't — be prodded to watch what doesn't interest them, however noble the purpose.
I agree, however, that many missed some great basketball and a chance to see one of the country's all-time great coaches, as well as one of the greatest female basketball players of all time in Candace Parker.

Anonymous said...

I was one of ". . .the people . . ." about whom the paint reference was made until about twenty years ago. I was living in Rock Springs, WY and owned what I called my "ski chalet" in Evanston. My then gf volunteered my Evanston place to a herd of mothers who wanted to go to the regional girl's tournament in Evanston -- then she volunteered me and my car. After three days of nothing but double elimination hoops, I discovered that the girls played a much more cerebral game than the boys. The girls had much better shooting form and shot much better than the boys. One girl from Cheyenne East buried 37 fts in a row over her five games. The girls were shooting set shots so "being open" meant a great deal more than it did for their jump shooting boyfriends. No screen? No shot. The interior passing was far superior to that of the boys and some of the girls actually patrolled the baseline the way, I am told, that Clair Bee taught his men to run it at CCNY in their glory days.

If anyone truly loves the beauty and art of basketball, the girls do a much better job of replicating Joe Lapchick, Vern Shelton etal than do the boys and men. The only thing the boys and men have is -- fans. The roar of the crowd can make even the most boring offense seem intricate and exciting.

Have you noticed how much better the girls shoot fts?

Anonymous said...

I swear if I hear one more person try to claim that women have better fundamentals I'm going to laugh out loud.

They might have better fundamentals than me, but when it comes to real players, men and women have and lack fundamentals at the same rate.

As for women's spots, I don't really watch them. To be quite honest, they do bore me. Except for soccer. Women's soccer is just as entertaining as men's.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with at least one sentence in the article.....the last one.

When/if people start buying tickets and going to games, the media will follow suit. If people want to see it, TV networks will find a way to get it on TV. The issue is that most sports fans have enough on their plate of "fanhood" that there is little, if any, room for girl's..ahem women's sports. I know that I'd certainly watch women's basketball IF there were no men's basketball. You can get just as excited and connect with the players in the same way, but in general I have just so many hours in a day and I have to do something productive with most of my time, so I don't really have time to follow ANY women's sports. I follow MSU, U of K, the Titans, the STL Cardinals, and occasionally even a golf tournament or 2. That pretty much leaves 10 minutes per month in which I view "alternative" sports like soccer or any women's sports.

I think that to see a revolution like that which Dusty promotes happen, an entirely new demographic of sports fan has to emerge, and that demographic has to be focused, for whatever reason, almost entirely on women's athletics. You'd have to see young girls and a multitude of women become "women's sports fans" who aren't currently fans of any sport. IMO, that's what has to happen because it's a losing proposition for ANY women's athletic event to compete for viewers with an equivalent level men's event, i.e. women's college basketball compared to men's college basketball.

Anonymous said...

I like women's professional tennis way more than men's. There were and are some great volleys in the women's game but it is usually one to three returns and a point in men's. I'd also much rather watch the Lingerie Bowl than the men's Dawn Dishwashing Liquid Bowl.....Does that count?

Sky Lowe-McCracken said...

Hang in there, Dusty. I think Trish and the Lady Vols are awesome. I am a bit prejudiced, tho - we went to the same college. She could beat any man on campus in one-on-one.

Good article.

Anonymous said...

Dusty, I agree completely. Take a look at our tv station last year. They did a top 10 count down of local sports events. They didnt have one girls sporting event. They even had to show the TN coaches dressing up. Is that local? They commended Heath boys baseball for making it to the state tournament with no mention of back to back all A state softball wins by Reidland. In addition, apparently no females did anything in basketball, soccer or track and field. Bravo