To what extent does the sporting event being covered affect the role and air time of women U.S. sports broadcasters?
When considering what topic to research, we realized how relevant this question is to the topic of gender representation in today’s sports media landscape. As recently as five days ago, it was announced that for the first time ever an all women NFL broadcasting team would begin coverage of NFL games. This groundbreaking news was met with an immediate backlash from the public.
Why do viewers react this way to women sports analysts when they are seen in roles that go against the norm? Why aren’t there more women in lead anchor positions? Was this public outcry because of them being women or more because the sport that they work in is seen as a male-dominated one?
These are all questions that we considered when thinking of what to research. There is a great deal of research out there about how audiences view women in sports journalism, but we found that there is a significant gap in research that shows how the type of sport may influence the air time and different roles that women broadcasters are relegated to. Through our research, we found that women are often judged by different standards when it comes to broadcasting. Audiences judge them on their appearance many times, while men are judged on their knowledge and expertise. We have also found that women have a harder time of being perceived as dynamic, expert broadcasters due to the gender norms that run rampant in the sports media arena.
Because of the research we found on how audiences perceive women sportscasters, we hope to find how much, if at all, the specific type of sporting event that is being broadcasted influences the roles that women broadcasters are placed in and how much air time that they receive. We will do this by examining five major sporting events from the past year (the 2018 NBA Finals, Super Bowl LII, FIFA soccer World Cup, U.S. women’s gymnastics championships, and Women’s U.S. Open Finals) and recording the airtime of women broadcasters and their roles. We will be asking questions such as what percentage of the total airtime did women receive and were they relegated to sideline reporting or were they a main play-by-play analyst?
This topic is an extremely important one because it is something that is being discussed right now in the news. The current nature of this makes it all the more important for us to find answers to this topic and to see how much of a correlation there may be between the different types of sporting events and the role that women sportscasters have.