A Media Analysis of Ellyse Perry and the Rise of Women’s Sport in Australia

By Chelsea Litchfield.

Published by Journal of Sporting Cultures and Identities

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In late 2013, Jeffrey outlined the poor performances in 2012 and 2013 of the men’s cricket, soccer, and rugby union teams in Australia. She compared these poor performances to the increase in world championship titles and Olympic and international success of many of Australia’s female athletes and teams (Jeffrey 2013). Australian Sport Commission Chairman John Wylie suggested that “there's a rising force in female sport,” and explained that women won 57% of Australia's gold medals in London, up from 38% in Sydney in 2000, but were still "under-appreciated" (cited in Jeffrey 2013). These types of discussions around the rise of women’s sports have been common in the media over the last two years in Australia. Many of these articles have focussed on one particular athlete, Ellyse Perry, and her contribution to the rise of women’s sport in Australia. Perry, a dual national representative in both cricket and soccer, has been presented as one of the shining lights in this culture. However, a media analysis of newspaper and online news sources in Australia has found that despite some sport journalists celebrating the achievements of Perry in particular and female athletes in Australia in general, the discussions and images used in these articles are often framed around the femininity, heterosexuality, and sexuality of such athletes. For instance, Perry is regularly presented off the field in evening dresses and high heels in newspaper articles and interviews (Halloran 2013, Le Grand 2013). Therefore, using Perry as case study and an example of this culture, this paper explains that despite women athletes in Australia performing to high international standards, they are often still presented in feminine, heterosexual, and sexualised discourses in the Australian sports media.

Keywords: Gender, Australia, Media

Journal of Sporting Cultures and Identities, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.11-22. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 344.520KB).

Dr. Chelsea Litchfield

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