Despite the improvements towards reaching gender equality in sports, female athletes still face numerous obstacles. The media, for example still present sports with an underlying male and female split. Sports such as football and rugby are masculine with gymnastics and netball being grouped as female sports, aligning with the traditional ideology that men and women will always consume different sports (Koivula , 1995), (Matteo, 1986). Unfortunately, this continuously making it difficult to break traditional gender barriers. The present broadcasting differences also translates the other way. The forced divided stops men participating in ‘feminine sports’ as much as it stops women participating in ‘masculine’ sports (Scheadler, and Wagstaff, 2018). Additionally, if female athletes are successful in a ‘masculine’ sport their sexuality is immediately questioned by the media (Blinde, 1991). In fact, many female athletes are only accepted by society and receive coverage in the media if they participate in traditionally feminine sports (Coche and Tuggle, 2016).
Thankfully, brave athletes have had the courage to challenge these outdated ideologies and have changed modern opinions upon sexism within sport (Jiwani, 2021).
Male sport throughout the years has always been more dominate than female sport, both from a participant level and media exposure angle due to the majority of television broadcasters overlooking women’s sports entirely (Adgate, 2022). Female sport in both popularity and participation level have risen significantly over the last decade and social media has been crucial for the rise in attention of female sports (Dashper, 2021). The now two-way structure of the internet and social media platforms have formed a new political dimension (Srnicek, 2017). Platforms have shaped our perception of what is right and provided people with the opportunity to voice their opinion rather than let media dictate what we consume. The two-way platform coinciding with the huge surge in movement towards female sport has forced broadcasting outlets to act and share the desired media, and giving female sport the exposure it rightly deserves. Additionally, as a result of the internet there is now a continuous opportunity to challenge concepts such as why male sport attracts more media attention than the female equivalent.
The mentioned popularity split between male and female sports has naturally created differences between the level of interaction of both sports across media outlets, with male sports being the most interacted with (Eastman, & Billings, 2000). A significant factor as to why a natural split has formed can be down to website’s layouts. Popular sports websites such as BBC and Sky Sports have dedicated pages to individual male sports yet group all women’s sport together. Not just websites either, new media like TV broadcasts have only recently started having dedicated channels for women’s sports like they do for the men’s (Messner and Cooky, 2010). Sky have shown the biggest progression towards an equal share of screen time by having specific channels dedicated to specific sports. By grouping male and female sports together and broadcasting them via Sky Football or Sky Cricket. Channels that allow for the traditional segregation to be removed instantly. Consumer will now interact with a dedicated channel for their favourite sport. Hopefully, consumers will stop dividing sports into male and female version and now interact with the female matches as much as the male matches. Treating the sport as one.
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