Why Doesn’t ESPN Cover Women?

Women’s sports have become much more popular in recent years. In 2009, 3.1 million high school-aged girls and 4.4 million high school-aged boys played sports, compared to 294,000 girls and 3.7 million boys in 1971. However,?new research finds that media coverage of women’s sports has dropped considerably. In 1989, the evening sports news shows devoted 5 percent of their time to women’s sports vs. 92 percent to men’s sports; women’s sports coverage peaked at 8.7 percent in 1999 before dropping to 1.6 percent in 2009. ESPN’s Sportscenter devoted only 1.4% of its time to women’s sports coverage in 2009. Michael Messner, one of the study’s coauthors, thinks that the lack of coverage stems from fear and inertia, rather than commercial reasons: “Men are capable of doing really good sports reporting on women’s sports and a lot of men really like women’s sports. But I think there is a fear on a lot of their parts, if they don’t stay with the big three sports.”[%comments]

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  1. Ben says:

    “[A] lot of men really like women’s sports.” Disagree.

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  2. Ray says:

    “In 1989, the evening sports news shows devoted 5 percent of their time to women’s sports vs. 92 percent to men’s sports; ‘

    Thats only 97 percent. What about the other 3 percent? Aliens?

    The reason for less reporting is less interest. Ever seen a WNBA game? I bet not. They only average about 7,000 per game. Other women’s sports have similar attendance issues. The bottom line is that networks like ESPN go where the money is, and the money is not in women’s sports.

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  3. Nerf says:

    Big three? Are they leaving out hockey or basketball?

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  4. Dellis says:

    I’m a man, and I almost exclusively prefer coverage of men’s sports. Why? Because they’re the best. Any WNBA team would lose to any men’s college basketball team in a rout. Rumors abound of top women’s tennis players, like the Williams sisters, losing in straight sets to top men’s college amateur players. It’s the same way with men’s/women’s sports as with the MLS – I like soccer, but I’d rather watch the best European leagues than our second rate domestic league. Similar, I’d rather watch the world’s best tennis players than the world’s best tennis players who happen to have 2 X chromosomes.

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  5. jh says:

    “…a lot of men really like women’s sports. ”

    No they don’t.

    I don’t think women even want to watch women’s sports.

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  6. Matt B. says:

    “In 1989, the evening sports news shows devoted 5 percent of their time to women’s sports vs. 92 percent to men’s sports;”

    What was the other 3 percent? Animal sports?

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  7. Matt says:

    What are the big 3? Nascar? Tennis? Golf? Women’s tennis must get at least close to the coverage of men’s. Ultimately, it is commercial. I’d say ESPN is afraid of risk and change – but you’re pointing out that there has been change. And ESPN has never been so ubiquitous.

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  8. kip says:

    Why not an ESPN-W? There are dozens of other ESPNs…

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