Women’s Involvement in Sports

The involvement of women in sports is an important issue that is widely discussed today at different levels and within different disciplines. It is especially crucial considering the fact that throughout the whole human history, until recently, sports were associated exclusively with men. Naturally, the way the media, such as television, commercials, and movies, represent women in sports plays a vital role. There has been an active campaign to promote women’s involvement in sports recently. However, these images of achievements on the path to gender equality hinder the adequate perception of sportswomen and the assessment of their achievements.

Many media campaigns, which in one way or another concern women and girls in sports, focus too much on the fact that sport itself is not suitable for women. This can be clearly seen in many commercials, especially from sports-related companies. One of the examples of such a strategy can be seen in a commercial by Nike. Girls are portrayed there as fragile creatures who nevertheless challenge social stereotypes about women in sports, stating that girls “are made” not only of “flowers and rings” but also of “iron and striving” (NikeWomen 00:00:00-00:02:00). At the same time, it certainly draws attention to the unfairness and bias against women in sports. However, in fact, women in sports in this video are presented as something unprecedented, which makes the audience look at each other in bewilderment.

Such associations indicate that a woman in sports is not normal, but, on the contrary, will inevitably face many difficulties. By absorbing such representations, many people can question the need for such sacrifices on the part of young and beautiful girls. They learn these gender rules and do not want to expose themselves to the inevitable public condemnation, graphically shown in the video. The media influences young generation so that they feel that it is necessary to agree with these social roles and not rebel. This thought is followed by another, promoted by anti-feminist men questioning about the reason for women to elevate the fact of participating in sports when, after all, no one is forcing them to do it. Finally, when young people receive such a message, they think that being a girl in sports is difficult. After all, the commercial also emphasizes that in order to play sports, a girl must be incredibly powerful, probably even stronger than a man. As a result, such videos only reinforce existing gender roles and discourage potential female athletes from developing in this field.

Another reason why the media portrayal of women in sports actually negatively affects their position is that women’s sports are too opposed to men’s sports. News reports on TV and radio often discuss the differences and prospects of men’s and women’s teams within the same kind of sport. Moreover, in this case, such discussions often cause a polarization of public opinion. Therefore, some people are definitely in favor of the development of women’s sports, and others, on the contrary, believe that the idea itself is too radical.

An example of TV news promoting such destructive discussions can be found in NBC Nightly News. A news story tells how the women’s hockey team boycotted the international championship, arguing that the men’s team receives more funding and support (NBC News 00:00:01-00:01:58). In order to promote women’s sports, the demand of the women’s team for better funding should have been presented as justified and legitimate, but the way it is shown in the news makes it radical.

In addition, there is a rebuttal from the government, refuting the words of the women’s team. They are claiming that all the necessary measures to support women in sports are already being taken and “any claims to the contrary are unfounded” (NBC News). First, all this makes the audience upset that their country is not fully represented at the championship. Second, it creates a popular opinion that female teams demand too much, providing that women earn less in sports bringing fewer victories. At the same time, the younger generation perceives such news stories as a signal that it is much more difficult for a woman to achieve success in sports than for a man. After all, the video describes in detail all the restrictions faced by members of the women’s hockey team, which could discourage young girls from thinking about such a career. Thus, on television, women’s sports are given a negative color, breaking society in half and exposing women’s sports as the most unprofitable and unnecessary.

While considering how women in sports are presented in modern cinema, then, here again, women’s sports do not look as accessible as men’s. First, there is a general tendency in movies to focus on the fact that women who are seriously interested in sports are a priori a huge rarity. Secondly, a great number of the works about women’s sports focus on those disciplines that are traditionally dominated by women. These are mainly movies about figure skating, various divisions of gymnastics, as well as ballet: Stick It (2006), Make It or Break It (2009), Black Swan (2010), A Ballerina’s Tale (2015), I, Tonya (2017). Taking the last one, I, Tonya, as an example, it can be noted that a significant part of the plot is devoted to interpersonal relationships and scandals. And as the heroine is deeply involved in these conflicts, it supports gender stereotypes greatly (I, Tonya). Such images subconsciously form in young people the idea that there are men’s sports focused on strength, and there are women’s sports focused on being beautiful and graceful.

It cannot be denied that attracting public attention to this problem is the main task of today. With this view of the situation, TV channels, companies, and movie producers are doing a great job of popularizing the idea that women’s sports have a right to exist. However, the real challenge that society must face if trying to achieve gender equality is to leave the thought that even women can play sports, although it is very difficult for them in the past. Only then will young people adequately perceive the reality in which women and men have equal development opportunities.

In conclusion, women’s sport is basically presented by the media as if it is hard and unnatural for women to succeed in it. Such an image does not provide that sport is publicly available, both for men and women. On the contrary, it makes women nervous and insecure about starting a career in this field. Amid the ongoing heated debate fueled by news headlines, it makes women’s sports more of a problem than a good beginning. Most of the messages about women’s sports still contain the idea that some women can surprisingly succeed in sport, despite they are not men. As a result, women’s sports are presented as heroism and a protest, although people should not have any doubts that women have the right to play sports and reach the top in this direction.

Works Cited

I, Tonya. Directed by Craig Gillespie, performance by Margot Robbie, LuckyChap Enterntainment, Clubhouse Pictures, Al Film, Neon, 2017.

Nike: What are Girls Made of?YouTube, uploaded by NikeWomen, 2017, Web.

Why USA Women’s Hockey Is Boycotting the ChampionshipYouTube, uploaded by NBC News, 2017, Web.

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