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Women In College Basketball Aren't Getting The Coverage They Deserve

There was a significant and notable discrepancy in coverage between the male and female teams during this year's NCAA Basketball Championship- Why aren't networks airing female athletes? Is it institutionalized misogny or "just business"?

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  1. 1. Let's start with some math:

    On the NCAA website, how much more likely were men to be featured on the home page over women during this year's finals? Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    giphy

    On the NCAA website, how much more likely were men to be featured on the home page over women during this year's finals?

    Men and Women were featured equally
    Men were two times as likely to be featured
    Men were three times as likely to be featured
    Women were more likely to be featured over men
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Men's basketball was THREE TIMES more likely to be featured on the NCAA homepage than women's basketball.

    In April, ThinkPress reported that they "checked the NCAA.com website three times per day — morning, afternoon, and night — during the week, and twice per day — late morning and night — on the weekends." Overall they tallied 495 headlines about men’s basketball, compared to only 108 about women’s basketball — meaning men’s basketball took up 72 percent of the college basketball coverage on the NCAA’s front page that week.

    Men's basketball was THREE TIMES more likely to be featured on the NCAA homepage than women's basketball.
    Via Diana Ofosu, ThinkPress
  2. 2. But Caroline, what coverage are men getting that women aren't?

    More
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    A lot more, actually.

    ESPN and Sportscenter are more likely to air hours of pre and post game shows for men than they are to air actual games for women. The University of Southern California published the results of a 25 year study back in 2015 that detailed the coverage of women in sports with shocking results. "In 2014, LA-based network affiliates devoted only 3.2 percent of airtime to women’s sports, down from 5 percent in 1989. SportsCenter devoted a scant 2 percent of airtime to women’s sports, a number that has remained flat since the study began tracking the nightly cable broadcast in 1999. When women’s sports are covered at all, 81.6 percent of coverage is focused on basketball. At the same time, men’s sports coverage of the Big Three – football, basketball and baseball – has increased. The study found broadcasters devoted 74.5 percent of their sports reports to Big Three coverage, up from 68 percent in 2009. Big Three sports coverage continues well into the off-season, continuing storylines about teams and players even when no actual games are being played." You can read the whole story here: https://news.usc.edu/82382/when-it-comes-to-women-in-sports-tv-news-tunes-out/

    A lot more, actually. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    Via giphy
  3. 3. What words are used when commenting on male and female athletes in the NCAA?

    Have you ever noticed that when reporters or commentators for ESPN and NCAA talk about "college basketball" they're referring to the men's league, but when they discuss the women's league, they have to specify that it's "women's college basketball". Below is a chart of the top 20 phrases/words used in NCAA.com articles about collegiate basketball: What's the difference between the words used for women and the words used for men?
    mentalfloss

    Have you ever noticed that when reporters or commentators for ESPN and NCAA talk about "college basketball" they're referring to the men's league, but when they discuss the women's league, they have to specify that it's "women's college basketball". Below is a chart of the top 20 phrases/words used in NCAA.com articles about collegiate basketball: What's the difference between the words used for women and the words used for men?

    The words used for men circulate around the idea of power and business, and the words used for women surround the idea of emotions and
    The words used for men circulate around the idea of power and business, and the words used for women surround the idea of emotions and "womanhood".
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    The men's league is reported on differently than the women's league.

    Not that there's anything wrong with being emotional or a woman, but these words make you think about how both leagues are being reported on. NCAA.com articles tend to treat men’s basketball as serious business, using jargon about contracts, suspensions, and violations. Women's basketball is also a business, but it isn't treated as such.

    The men's league is reported on differently than the women's league. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    Via giphy
  4. 4. Maybe this all goes back to the fact that men are better at sports than women are, right?

    I mean, that's what that one troll on twitter told you. What percent of men and women believe that men are "just better" at sports? Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    giphy

    I mean, that's what that one troll on twitter told you. What percent of men and women believe that men are "just better" at sports?

    10% of women, 40% of men
    32% of women, 47% of men
    47% of women, 52% of men
    17% of women, 33% of men
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    32% of women and 47% of men think that men are just "better" at sports.

    In 2016, CNN polled 1,800 men and women polled who said both genders were equal in math and science, but they said sports was the one area where they believe there are differences. It's a shame to see the lack of interest in female sports immediately after events like the Olympics, where people fawn over powerhouses like Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles- You know why we're able to love Olympian girls and fully see their potential and skill as athletes? It's because we are given easy access to coverage of their events during the Olympics. "Better" is a subjective adjective. Men's leagues and women's leagues in every sport are inherently different. The gameplay is different, the dynamic is different, and sometimes even the rules are altered. There's no need to get into "what gender is the strongest" when comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges- the women's league is not better or worse or less it's exciting- just different and equally deserving of proper coverage.

    32% of women and 47% of men think that men are just "better" at sports. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    Via giphy
  5. 5. So NCAA female athletes aren't as popular as male athletes- Why is that?

    Go type in "NCAA Basketball" into the Youtube search bar, what do you see?

    It's literally all hype videos for the men's league
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Hype videos.

    Some people argue that men's basketball is just more "exciting" than women's basketball because of all the dunks and the intensity- but in this past 2017 finals, the women from Mississipi beat out UConn for a spot in the championship at the buzzer in overtime- If that happened in the men's final four nobody would shut up about it

    Hype videos. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    Via Giphy
  6. 6. Let's talk advertising!

    The NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game makes roughly $1.49 million off TV ads. That's more than double of what the NBA, NCAA Football Bowls, MBL and NHL make. It's nearly impossible to find out how much is spent for women's basketball commercials, but we can assume that they don't spend as much money as the men's team. So because this event is being aired on a major network during primetime, they are able to get better and wealthier sponsors, so they are then able to earn more money, which can be used on even MORE advertising for this event in order to get even MORE viewership which will make them even MORE money. What is this?
    Kantar Media, Business Insider

    The NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game makes roughly $1.49 million off TV ads. That's more than double of what the NBA, NCAA Football Bowls, MBL and NHL make. It's nearly impossible to find out how much is spent for women's basketball commercials, but we can assume that they don't spend as much money as the men's team. So because this event is being aired on a major network during primetime, they are able to get better and wealthier sponsors, so they are then able to earn more money, which can be used on even MORE advertising for this event in order to get even MORE viewership which will make them even MORE money. What is this?

    It's a vicious cycle
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Yeah, it's pretty much a vicious cycle in pursuit of cash.

    A lot of big name advertisers aren't wasting their time with the women's league because they don't get as much viewership, which is because a majority of NCAA women's basketball games are aired on ESPN2, ESPNU, or WatchESPN (NCAA men's basketball is often aired on ESPN's main channel). I'm a basic cable person, so my household gets ESPN, but not any of it's "extra" channels- the men's league is FAR more accessible to support than the women's league. It's an advertiser's job to make money, and I can't blame them for wanting to pay for ad time during the event that the most people are watching, so where can the cycle stop? It stops with big networks and with the public's idea of women in sports.

    Yeah, it's pretty much a vicious cycle in pursuit of cash. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    Via Giphy
  7. 7. What can we do?

    Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    Attend your local team's games
    Tweet about important moments in the sport, like when Maryland Terp Destiny Slocum made a long shot from the opposite end of the court to steal the lead in the team's second round game against West Virginia
    Watch online or on networks that aren't mainstream
    Evaluate your own opinions about women in the sport
    All of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    All of the above

    When inequality is institutionalized, the first step to combating it is by starting a movement. While the lack of coverage for NCAA women's basketball is topical, it's not a concentrated issue- it starts with how we recognize women in sports, and the idea that to be physically strong or athletic isn't a man's game, and to be powerful isn't a masculine quality, but a human one. Put focus on amazing, up-and-coming, hard-working, and talented athletes (that happen to be female) like today's media does with college boys. Also, stop letting college athletes get away with rape! Seriously though, what's up with that?

    All of the above Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    Via giphy

Women In College Basketball Aren't Getting The Coverage They Deserve

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