Sexism In Women's Sports

As an avid sports enthusiast, I find it hard to notice the differences between mens and womens sports. This issue has been brought back into my mind since March Madness, the mens college basketball tournament, started earlier in the month. As I was trying to watch and support our USF womens basketball team play their tournament game, I realized that the ESPN2 station had combined four games going on at once and were going through the games with highlights.

However, for the mens tournament games each game could easily be accessed on ESPN channels and TNT. I found it odd that women got such little coverage in sports compared to men. Diving deeper into womens sports history, it is evident that women are conveyed to be “dainty” and “artistic” rather than muscular and tough. Therefore, sports that are considered feminine are ballet, gymnastics, or cheerleading. Although these sports require strict dedication and training, people are quick to consider them weak sports that are less demanding.

When women enter “tough” sports such as basketball within the WNBA, there are still setbacks. For instance, dunking a ball is common for mens basketball. Since the WNBA was established in 1996, there have only ever been 11 dunks. Instead of being encouraged however, these women were put down and were even rumored to have male extremities.

Furthermore, women in “professional” sports also have lingerie leagues. Now, I am not opposed to women being comfortable in their own bodies. However, why is there a need to sexualize football or basketball because a woman is playing it? In this case, why aren’t men playing in boxers?

Women in sports are also paid considerably less than men. In the WNBA, the minimum salary is around $40,000 and the maximum is around $110,000. Compare this to the NBA salary with a minimum salary of $525,093 and maximum of $17 million, there are some evident difference. Although women have been making impacts in sports such as Kathryn Smith, the first full-time female coach in NFL history, women are still being ostracized in sports media.

ESPN has been under scrutiny multiple times for favoring college football and mens basketball, I just hope there is a day when women and men will be equal not only in work relations but in sports as well.