The gender imbalance in mainstream sports coverage
By Jessica Berget, Staff Writer
Recently, I was in a debate with my younger brother about the popularity of men’s sports versus women’s sports, specifically basketball.
He claims that men’s basketball is more popular than women’s simply because they are better players. But how do you decide which gender is better at playing basketball? How do you measure “better-ness”? The question of which gender is better at basketball is sexist and irrelevant. Many athletes are great for many different reasons, but to my 13-year-old brother (and for many other people) men’s basketball and men’s sports in general are deemed better because they receive more media attention than women’s. The amount of media coverage does not necessarily mean that one league is better than the other, but since this is such a popular reason to mock women’s sports, let’s look at the facts.
It is true that the WNBA gets less media coverage. In 2014, network television coverage had only 3.4 per cent of its airtime devoted to women’s sports. SportsCentre gave it 2 per cent of its coverage and has not improved much since. Even when women’s basketball is covered, it usually revolves around their physical attractiveness or something else other than their basketball skills. This double standard undervalues the athletic achievements made by women over their male counterparts.
Women’s basketball also receives fewer sponsorships, making it difficult for female athletes to gain popularity, attention, and means that they receive much less pay than those players of men’s basketball. The revenue split in men’s basketball is also much higher. NBA players receive 50 per cent of the revenue, while WNBA players’ receives only 33 per cent.
Yes, the WNBA gets less media attention than the NBA, but they also do not have access to the same resources or have the same opportunities as the NBA. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? ’Women’s basketball is deemed less popular because they do not receive the same media attention as men’s, but is it because women are not good at sports? Or could it possibly be the sexist attitude of mainstream society combined with the lack of media attention that says women aren’t good at sports? How many baskets, dunks, or rebounds are enough to give the WNBA the respect and acknowledgement that they deserve?