Open Letter to ESPN
Since I talked about the empowerment of young women in my last post I thought it would be a good idea to address a huge problem that they face, lack of media coverage. Sports is a business that obviously has sexism.
Sports are America’s favorite past time. Everywhere you look there is something about sports. Whether it be the newest trade made in basketball, the super bowl, or breaking news that Tiger Woods just cheated on his wife, sports are right there in your face. Sports create heroes, goals, and dreams. The media makes this all possible. They choose the upcoming stars to publicize. The media today is lacking the coverage of women within sports. The little coverage affects young women who aspire to be professional athletes to women who simply love sports, like me. The media greatly contributes to the gender roles in our society today. Men look up to strong, muscleman football players, but what do young women have to look up to? I would like you to realize the power you have to change the sexist world we live in.
I watch your channel at least three times a week and cant help but notice the heavy coverage of football, baseball, hockey, and even soccer; men’s. One of your most popular shows, SportsCenter, was reported to have a whopping 1.4% of coverage devoted to women’s sports. SportsCenter is the fans daily sports news that averages up to 150 million viewers a month. These viewers see the same male- dominated channel. Don’t get me wrong, you guys have gotten better at covering the women’s sports such as the WNBA. The problem is, it doesn’t show up on the news. SportsCenter has the power to build an audience that is essentially already there. Those who are fans of women’s sports don’t get to enjoy their beloved sport on the evening news. Instead, there are numerous stories on the same topic.
Women in sports have become sexualized in sports today. The media rarely highlights a woman for her athletic ability, but instead for her femininity. Donna Lopiano, the former Chief Executive of the Women’s Sport Foundation, says that the sports media culture is “deciding what sells, and they’re not willing to sell legitimate female athletic achievement.” I was watching ESPN during the Women’s US Open and found myself listening to a conversation on Serena William’s short dress and how big her “back side” was. There is no doubt Serena Williams is extremely talented and there is so much more to be said about her than her wardrobe. This is contributing to the problem. The media decides what is talked about at school, work, and in our homes.
I am most worried for the young women who aspire to be professional athletes. ESPN raises awareness about their potential contribution to the world. These young women do not equally get to see positive women athletes to look up as young men do. This is the result of the media and society. We are now caught up in what makes the most money. I recognize that this is a major argument against the increase in media coverage; it does not make the most money. It is time for you to change that. You can make women’s sports more popular and essentially make more money. Nevertheless, you should think about the future young women who would love to be featured on your network one day, but simply don’t see enough hope.
The promotion and popularization of women’s sports requires greater coverage, depth, and quality of women in sports. I ask that you rethink the amount of airtime women receive on your network. You are the “worldwide leader in sports” and have the power to change the world in our battle against sexism.
Your fan (for now),