Will Women’s Sports Get a Boost from New Social Media?
As I have mentioned before in this blog, new social media technology is becoming a dominant force in sports journalism. This technology is changing both the way sports are reported and who is reporting them. The question is, are the types of sports being covered changing?
This video is a lecture by Marie Harden, Rachel Blount and Angela Ruggiero called “Facing off Over Facebook: The Impact of Social Media in Women Sports.”
While this video talks about the hardships faced by women athletes, it also goes into great depth about the amount and type of coverage female athletes receive. The lecturers state that women athletes get only 6 to 8 percent of sports coverage when they represent 40 percent of athletes nationwide. Also, they state that they are portrayed in both “ambivalent” and “sexual” ways.
These lecturers have a huge problem with the lack of coverage, as they should be.
However, the revolution that has occurred with new social media provides a glimmer of hope for female athletics. In an article by Marie Hardin called “Does ‘New Media’ Bring New Attitudes Toward Women’s Sports?,” Hardin discusses the opportunities that social media provide for female athletes. These opportunities could bring more attention to women’s sports, supply more viewers to women’s sporting events, and possibly put female athletes on a level playing field with male athletes when it comes to respect.
Hardin isn’t the only person to have recognized this opportunity. Q McCall, in her article entitled “On Writing: How Might Advances in Social Media Influence Women’s Sports Coverage?,” says that while the opportunity is there, it has yet to be taken advantage of. McCall says that there is no evidence to support that the way women sports are covered has changed, even though new social media has the “capacity” to do so.
In this video, journalist Rachel Blount of The Minneapolis Star Tribune says that social media is a great medium to reach out to fans, but the misuse of social media can have a negative impact.
So what must people do, male or female, to enhance the amount of female sports that is covered nationwide? And what role can new social media play in that change?
Well, the best way to start implementing any social media is to do it well, do it often, and do it consistently. Women sports have battled the lack of coverage for so long, and using social media to reach out to fans journalists will only help them. Sports journalists want to cover things that are newsworthy, and getting fans and attention to games will help female athletes make their games newsworthy.
However, Hardin and McCall are right. New social media is a great opportunity. But it is hard work. And until everyone involved in women athletics gets on the same page, female sports will suffer from the same lack of coverage.
I hope that these female athletes get the message.