THOSE CUTE LITTLE GIRLS
The Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles recently published a study comparing the way television covers women's sports with the way it covers men's sports. The research team watched: 1) six weeks of late-night sports news on KNBC in Los Angeles; 2) coverage of the women's and men's NCAA basketball semifinals and finals by CBS and ESPN; and 3) the four final days of the 1989 U.S. Open tennis championship, which were covered on CBS and USA Network.
First, the obvious: There is much less coverage of women's sports than of men's. For example, during those six weeks, KNBC devoted 244 minutes (92%) to men's sports, 12 minutes (5%) to women's sports and eight (3%) to "gender neutral" topics. Women were sprinkled throughout these broadcasts, but almost always in nonathletic roles, for humor or titillation.
The study also found that:
?Female athletes are far more likely to be referred to by their first names than are male athletes. This so-called infantilizing of adult women was most evident in tennis commentary; women were referred to by their first names 52.7% of the time, as opposed to 7.8% of the time for men. (Incredibly, of the 19 male basketball players referred to by first name only, all were either black or Hispanic. Not once was a white male identified by his first name alone.)
?Commentators were more likely to use martial metaphors and words suggesting power when describing male athletes than when describing females. Male tennis players lost points not because of their own failings, but because of their opponents' strength or power. Women, on the other hand, lost points because they were too nervous or lacked aggression, confidence or stamina.
SO MANY COFFIN CORNERS
The San Saba ( Texas) High football team would appear to have a unique home field advantage. Rogan Field, where the Fighting Golden Armadillos play their home games, is built on top of an old cemetery. While no one knows for sure how many bodies are resting beneath the sod, the Armadillos are grateful for their presence. Says fullback and linebacker Brian Sanderson, "It gives other teams something to think about."
The field has seemed, on occasion, to provide assistance of an otherworldly kind. "A few times, guys from opposing teams have had an open field and have tripped and fallen," says Brad McCoy, San Saba's coach. "Our kids say it's our spirit hand coming out of the ground to make a tackle for us."
The site was first used as a cemetery in 1858, and according to one local historian, about 200 bodies were buried there before it fell into disuse. In 1935 the family that owned the land donated it to the San Saba school district and invited relatives of the deceased to come and collect the remains. Some obliged, but between 40 and 50 of the bodies went unclaimed, which means that, whereas most teams count themselves lucky to possess any team spirit at all, the Armadillos can call upon two score or more of them.