Women Don’t Like To Watch Sports TV, Except Olympics
As the London 2012 Olympic Games draw nearer, researchers have attempted to find out how females would react to the spectacle.
According to a study published recently in the journal Communication, Culture & Critique, women largely ignore sporting events on television. Apparently, despite the headways they have made in playing sports, especially professionally, many women are still tethered to domestic duties, which consume most of their energy and time.
They are setting time aside for the London Olympics though.
Researchers from the University of Tennessee and Penn State University made the conclusion after engaging nearly 20 women, between ages 26 and 43, in 90-minute group discussions. Respondents were asked about what sports they watch on TV, their reasons for watching, and the possible factors affecting their consumption patterns.
Result: All respondents admitted giving more precedence to domestic chores and childrearing, let alone attending their children’s extracurricular activities, than viewing televised sports. On occasions that they do watch, the respondents claimed they would only catch a fraction of the scenes.
Nevertheless, all respondents claimed they are likely to tune in to the 2012 Olympics. Researchers chalked up their interest to the packaging and broadcasting of Olympics past. Broadcasts of the Olympics usually utilize easily digestible voice-overs, for instance. They also introduce athletes as they come by way of strategically placed vignettes, with personal details of their struggles to represent their nations.
Gender-based factors dictate what kind of sports women watch on TV, the researchers added. Faced with a choice of female-driven sporting events, respondents claimed they like one that showcases conventionally feminine-looking women who move gracefully. They do not like as much events that require aggression, physicality, and other traditionally masculine traits (with the exception of Ryan Lochte!). In other words, women are most likely to watch the likes of gymnastics and figure-skating during the Olympics.
As part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX has provided for more female-inclusiveness in sports at public schools, i.e. let women enter school teams and play recreational sports. The passage of the law then stoked hope that female athletes would capture a sizable audience on TV. Unfortunately, this audience still has not manifested. This problem is dogging the WNBA, which, since its 1997 debut, has been playing to a middling TV audience.
Networks generally do not broadcast such female-driven events on primetime. In effect, women are still not attuned to watching their physically competitive kind on TV, even though they participate themselves in sports.
Then again, the researchers concede that their sampling is too diminutive for finality. Their study has to be duplicated as to discover the larger influences of women in watching sports TV. In the interim, the researchers are not doubtful that women’s sports are still at the mercy of a patriarchal society.