Women’s professional sports and the accomplishments of female athletes are largely overlooked and overshadowed by male sports. While it may not seem like a large problem, this demonstrates the unequal societal standards and stereotypes of women being lesser to men. In fact, in a 30-year study conducted by the University of Southern California it was found that 80 percent of sports news and highlights programs devoted zero time to women’s sports. Another 2019 study found that women’s sports received less than five percent of the total television sports coverage that year. This imbalance is not limited to media coverage nor is it limited to professional sports. It also holds true in the context of collegiate athletics.
There are several factors that play into this, including lesser funding towards and lower coverage of women’s sports as well as misogynistic stereotypes of women’s athletic ability. A National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Gender Equity Report from this year showed that the NCAA, on average, spent more money on male athletes than female athletes. To be precise, $1,700 more for each male Division I and national championship participant as compared to women in the same categories. This report came after Stanford University sports performance coach Ali Kershner posted pictures on Instagram of the men’s and women’s weight rooms at the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. Kershner called out the NCAA for providing the men with a large room of gym equipment while leaving the women’s teams with only a few yoga mats and a rack of dumbbells. Her post went viral and many celebrities and professional athletes joined in, questioning the unequal treatment and demanding that the NCAA do better.
A common argument for giving more funding to men’s sports is that they are simply more lucrative. More people watch the men’s games and therefore the NCAA as well as the individual colleges and universities profit more from men’s athletics. This is also why female professional athletes make significantly less money than their male counterparts. But why is it that people watch men’s sports more?
Many argue that it is because men are simply stronger, faster, and generally more athletic than women, making them more entertaining to watch. Women’s sports are then overlooked in order to focus on the men. Essentially, people value women’s sports less and think of them as lesser than. However, as I said earlier, men’s sports receive much better coverage. Sports journalism is a heavily male-dominated field, and as a consequence, women’s sports coverage is limited and done at a much lower production value. Cheryl Cooky, a co-author of a 2015 study about women’s sports representation in the media told the Atlantic in an interview that “[men’s sports] have higher production values, higher-quality coverage, and higher-quality commentary.. [and] when you watch women’s sports, and there are fewer camera angles, fewer cuts to shot, fewer instant replays, yeah, it’s going to seem to be a slower game”. The problem isn’t the athletic ability of women, but rather the lack of accurate representation of their ability.
As University of Oregon women’s basketball forward Sedona Prince said in a TikTok video during March Madness, “If you aren’t upset about this problem, then you’re part of it.” Bringing awareness to the situation allows others to take a look at the situation from a different perspective and help change the narrative. If you like basketball so much, why not watch the WNBA? Ask your parents, friends, neighbors and see if you can change their perspective as well.
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Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP. “NCAA Gender Equity Review.” NCAA Gender Review, 26 Oct. 2021, https://ncaagenderequityreview.com/.
Kershner, Ali. Photos of NCAA Men’s and Women’s Weight Rooms. Instagram, 18 March 2021, https://www.instagram.com/p/CMkRJ2LswFp/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Mertens, Maggie. “Women's Sports Is a Feminist Issue.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 5 June 2015,
Ross, Terrance F. “What Gender Inequality Looks like in Collegiate Sports.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 9 Apr. 2015,
“The Fight for Equal Pay in Women's Sports.” Women's Sports Foundation, 10 Oct. 2019, https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/education/fight-equal-pay-womens-sports/.
Usc. “News Media Keeps Pressing the Mute Button on Women's Sports.” EurekAlert!, https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/543497.