Women athletes don’t get their fair share of television time and the coverage of them is sexist, according to a study released Wednesday by the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles.
The study found that only 5% of television sports news on a sample station was devoted to women athletes, that females frequently were called “girls” instead of “women” and that men’s telecasts use more high-tech equipment and statistics.
“The current practice tends to trivialize women athletes,” said Anita DeFrantz, the foundation’s president. “There are non-economic solutions.”
The study examined coverage of the 1989 U.S. Open tennis championship and the 1989 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball Final Fours on CBS as well as six weeks of local sportscasts on KNBC-TV of Los Angeles.
DeFrantz said women appear on sports telecasts “as comic relief or a sex symbol,” many times appearing only in shots of spectators.
KNBC spokeswoman Regina Miyamoto said: “We do not understand how any survey can distribute such findings without having a fair and balanced sampling of all stations’ newscasts within the market.” Sportscaster Fred Roggin declined further comment.
CBS Sports defended its women’s tennis and basketball coverage, but executive producer Ted Shaker said: “I think she makes some valid points. Some of the points one could argue. I think that the fact that conversations of this kind take place and are considered by intelligent people who in their hearts care, I think that’s good.”