Women in the Sports Pages: A Brief Insight into Olympic and Non-Olympic Years in Australia

By Chelsea Litchfield and Jaquelyn Osborne.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Despite women participating in a variety of sports at an international level, the Australian sports media is dominated by male commentators, male identified sports, and male athletes. Much of the sports reporting in Australia surrounds high profile male team sports such as rugby league (NRL), cricket and Australian rules football (AFL). Women sports do not generally feature heavily in sports coverage in either print or broadcast mediums. However, every four years the Olympic Games change this culture somewhat. Over the period of the Olympic Games, during the lead up to the Games and in the weeks post Games, women athletes can be found in the sports pages. During this period, Australian women athletes are celebrated and awarded space in newspaper coverage, particularly if their athletic performance brings success to the country. This ongoing longitudinal study documents the prevalence of female sports stories in two state (New South Wales) and one national newspaper in Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph and The Australian, between 2008 and 2012. In the broader study, newspapers were analyzed for two weeks prior to the Olympics beginning, during the Olympics and two weeks after the Olympics were completed. However in the current paper, a small slice of this research between 2008-2012 will be analyzed in relation to gender (male, female or a combination of male and female athletes), the articles relationship to the Olympic Games, and the general content of sports news articles. The content and language used in the newspaper articles are examined using a critical feminist perspective and such a perspective will investigate the ways that women are often ‘feminized’, ‘gender marked’, ‘infantilized’ and ‘heterosexualized’ in the sports media during both Olympic and non-Olympic years.

Keywords: Gender, Media, Olympics

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 4, Issue 4, February 2015, pp.45-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 558.879KB).

Dr. Chelsea Litchfield

Lecturer, School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia

Dr. Jaquelyn Osborne

Lecturer, School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia