The Underrepresentation Of Female Athletes

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Underrepresentation of Female Athletes in Sports Television Coverage Abby Rice University of Missouri-Columbia Introduction ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon once described American soccer star Mia Hamm as “perhaps the most important athlete of the last fifteen years” (Zirin, 2007, p. 46). As a forward for the United States women’s national soccer team, she held the record for international goals, more than any other player, male or female, until 2013. After a pair of Olympic gold medals, two World Cup titles and a place in the National Soccer Hall of Fame, Hamm announced her retirement from the sport in 2004. As the curtain fell on Hamm’s legendary career, her retirement was met with a wall of silence from the media. Mia Hamm’s illustrious career slipped silently from the public’s radar with little pomp and circumstance. The media reaction, or lack thereof, toward Hamm’s retirement was not accidental. The sporting world has long been characterized by its inadequate coverage of female athletes. New York Times journalist Karen Crouse described this lack of coverage seen for female sports. Crouse said the modern day female athlete feels “as if she is the sum total of her physical assets—or invisible” (LaVoi, 2013, p. 40). While the number of women participating in high school, collegiate and professional sports has skyrocketed since the passage of Title IX, the coverage of female athletes has continued to pale in comparison to their male counterparts. In
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