Male vs. Female Sports Coverage and Pay Gap: If You’re Not First, You’re Last

By Lauren Taras

I sat on my couch on Sunday waiting to watch the rivalry erupt between the Ohio State and Michigan basketball teams on my TV.

However, there were two games going on. Ohio State men’s basketball had tip-off at 1:00 p.m. while the women’s team had a start time just an hour later.

With college basketball games typically playing for around two hours, logistically it was impossible to watch both games completely.

Fans were left to decide which game to watch first or which game to watch in more entirety. Some fans even went to Twitter to share their thoughts about their frustration with the situation.

Tweets expressed disappointment with the Big Ten, assuming that the Big Ten conference was responsible for the overlapping rivalry games.

It turned out that the television networks dictate the start times of college sports games. This control comes from the national television affiliates, deciding which game to play on TV and when to show a different game if the original game becomes a blowout.

But amidst this discovery, there was one thing that remained a unanimous given. Frustrated fans on February 21st could agree on the unbalanced sports coverage between male and female sports.

According to a Glamour article, although females make up 40% of sports participants, they “only receive 4% of sports coverage” (Glamour, 2019).

Moreover, females are twice more likely to discontinue their sport not because of physical capabilities. With less sports coverage than their male counterparts, female athletes miss out on recognition, sponsorships and money.

Look at the U.S. National Women’s Team. They are paid less than what the USMNT earns, yet they are the most accomplished international women’s soccer team with four World Cup titles under their belts.

Not to mention they contribute more revenue for the U.S. Soccer Federation than the men’s team.

In 2019, the Women’s World Cup champions received four million dollars whereas the men’s champion won thirty-eight million dollars (Washington Post, 2019).

Members of the USWNT such as Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan were some of the leading figures in their class action lawsuit filed against the USSF to combat these gender pay gaps.

Earlier in February, the team competed in the SheBelieves Cup. On the third and final day of the match, they swept Argentina with 6-0.

I didn’t see it mentioned at all on my Twitter explore page. Instead, my Twitter explore page contained mostly male sports media and information about Tiger Woods’ severe car crash for probably the fifth day in a row.

The lack of equal sports coverage and pay comes down to the portrayal of female athletes and societal norms.

Women in sports are usually not recognized for their athletic ability, but instead for their physical appearance, femininity and or sexuality.

Even when Serena Williams was recognized as the 2015 sportsperson of the year, her Sports Illustrated cover spotlighted her sitting on a throne in a bodysuit and heels.

An article by the Chicago Tribune was titled, “Serena Williams Sports Illustrated cover proves power is feminie.”

Considering the image, does this title make progress for gender equality or erase what empowering female athletes have been advocating for? It sounds a little contradicting.

Since then, I believe that teams such as the USWNT have made strides to show the world not only what women in sports are capable of, but also what they deserve.

Kelly, M. (2019, July 8). Are U.S. women’s soccer players really earning less than men? ​Washington

Post​.​ MacKenzie, M. (2019, July 16). Female Athletes Receive Only 4% of Sports Media Coverage—Adidas

Wants to Change That. ​Glamour​.,4%25%20of%20sports%20media%20coverage.&text=Girls%20drop%20out%20of%20sports,are%20underfunded%20and%20often%20underpromoted​.

Stevens, H. (2015, Dec. 14). Serena Williams Sports Illustrated cover proves power is feminie. Chicago

Tribune.​ balancing-20151214-column.html

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