Hey New York Times, Where Are All The Women In Your Sports Section?

Yesterday, while reading the sports section of the New York Times, I literally had to check the date to make sure we weren’t in a different century. There wasn’t one full article or photo of a female athlete. OK, that’s not entirely true. There was a photo of a football player with a string of female cheerleaders behind him.  And there was one tiny (photo-less) blurb about Caroline Wozniacki and an equally small mention of Michelle Wie. But come on, NYT, 14 pages and hardly a mention of any women? Out of 50-plus photos, the only females included were those in cheerleader uniforms dutifully standing behind a male football player? You know better than that, don’t you?

Good thing we have our own special site–ESPN for women (espnW). Or is it?

When this all-female sports site was rolled out last year, some critics worried that it was condescending to women.

One female sports blogger, Julie DiCaro, wrote:

It seems like this is the broadcasting equivalent of making something pink and putting sparkles on it. For those of us that have worked really hard to keep up with the boys, that’s kind of tough to hear.

And researcher Michael Messner, who authored a University of Southern California study that found women’s sports comprised just 1.4% of the airtime on Sport Center last year noted:

espnW might ultimately ghettoize women’s sports and kind of take ESPN off the hook in terms of actually covering them on its main broadcast.

Ironically, this debate was covered by the NY Times.

So, to everyone at the Times, we’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt for yesterday’s “oversight” (who knows, maybe all of your reporters who know there is more to sports than the upcoming football season were stuck in Hurricane Irene). But just in case you found yourselves short on ideas, here are a few women you could have written about in yesterday’s paper:

  • Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova or Vera Zvonareva–the U.S. Open starts today, you know.
  • Women’s Professional Soccer–the WPS finals were held Saturday afternoon in Rochester, NY in front of a record-crowd of over 10,000 fans
  • Canadian Women’s Open–while you did devote all of two sentences to Michelle Wie, you certainly could have expanded on your coverage of her and many other pro golfers here.
  • Ironman Louisville–this 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run was held yesterday. Perhaps you could have profiled some of the top female contenders like Hillary Biscay who was competing in her 50th Ironman race. That’s no small feat.

We trust we have been heard, New York Times.

Photo: New York Times


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    • Well

      When people start watching women’s sports, the media will start covering them. It’s all about demographics (predominately men watch sports) and advertising dollars. Are you upset about the lack of horseshoes coverage as well? There isn’t anything nefarious about it.

    • HFD

      i’ve felt this way for a long time…and i’m sorry for the guy who wrote the lil horseshoe comment…way to be supportive, man. great job! demographics shmemographics, sir! maybe if there was more coverage, that there are women’s sports going on at the same time that men’s are, it would be kinda helpful for people to see what’s what.
      it’s not all about the money, it’s the fact that these women are putting their blood, sweat, and tears into their sport, just as much as a man does…it’s about the love of the game. how bout we just support each other…men have had that forever…nothing wrong with a lil props to these talented athletes that happen to be women. people need to see that! young girls need to see that! right on, deb dunham :)

      • Well

        Participating in sports is where the heart is. Watching sports is just about money and vicarious living. Men spend money on sports in mass, women don’t. Girl power bla bla bla.

    • HFD

      i want so badly to argue with you,
      but instead let me just say this in reply to you, kind sir…
      i’ve been PARTICIPATING in sports since i came out of the womb, it seems…
      i can throw a pretty tight spiral,
      i have thrown a person out at 3rd from right field,
      i have a jump shot that might just melt butter,
      i have run in a few half marathons around the country,
      i have been a part of many double plays,
      my car at this very moment has a set of golf clubs in it, a basketball, a yoga mat, and cycling shoes.
      next to my computer, there’s a boogie board,
      and on my back porch, there’s a long board.
      it’s 2011…girls do play, they can play, and they play well.
      and hey, even in recent times, we’ve been allowed to vote,
      just letting you know.
      there are women athletes everywhere.
      you’ve not been paying any attention, if you don’t know that.
      they say ignorance is bliss,
      but i think your commentary is just sad.
      everyone is allowed to their opinion though…i just hope some girl teaches you otherwise.
      namaste to you :)

      • Well

        I think you are misunderstanding what I am saying. Women participating in sports is wonderful. I support all people playing sports. That is not the issue.

        Professional sports is entertainment. Let me state that again – Entertainment. What people find entertaining can’t be forced.

        It is paid for by advertising and spectators. If there was money to be made by covering horseshoes it would be in the NYT. There is not, so it’s not there.

        It’s about the numbers. When women’s sports are played before sold out crowds and people spend what they spend on men’s sports, it will be covered.

        It has nothing to do with sexist attitudes with who can and can’t play. Everyone should play – regardless of who is watching or what money is being made.

    • HFD

      i didn’t misunderstand you at all…
      but backtracking seems to be something you do well…
      because the ‘girl power blah blah blah’ statement, there’s no misunderstanding that…
      so, in order to be noticed or recognized, we have to play in front of sell out crowds, eh? nice one…
      after awhile, you wouldn’t understand this, obviously, these excuses don’t hold ground.
      i realize that money rules the world,
      but papers are also there to inform us about what’s going on around us.
      just sayin…
      we play too.
      you seem to have an obsession about horseshoes, and maybe you think we women athletes are about as exciting as watching horseshoes, i don’t know.
      you say women in sports are wonderful, but in the same breath, it’s like you’re sayin…go ahead and play, but until you make loads of money, we just don’t care about giving you cover-age.
      as a woman athlete, i just think that is an old argument,
      and i’m kind of sick of hearing it, that’s all.
      i don’t think that each and every single little thing that happens has to be covered, but good lord, even the big happenings in women’s sports are skipped over.
      this is something that i’m afraid some people will not understand, and will not agree about…but just because it happens to be the way it is, doesn’t make it right.
      i know this is a way too dreamy statement…
      but reporting about sports can’t always be about money…
      it should be about talent, hard work, working against crazy odds, and heart.
      arguing most likely will never change that, but i kinda feel it’s important to speak up. so, there you go. i spoke.
      and i’m done :)

      • Well

        I haven’t backtracked I just don’t agree with you. The lack of coverage isn’t sexist.

        You obviously have a high horse among your other sports equipment. It is all about money. Sorry.

        Print media is a dying industry they aren’t going to contribute to their own demise to suit the desire of a niche demographic. People that follow women’s sports and spend money on them as a fan. How many WNBA Jerseys, Hats, pennants, posters and other merchandise do you own?

        Your idealism is admirable but it doesn’t sell papers. Wish in one and shit in the other and see which one fills up first.

      • Well

        If I can across as a troglodyte I have no one but myself to blame. It wasn’t my point at all. Sorry about the “Bla Bla “- it’s a tired argument sorry if I expressed my exasperation inappropriately.

        If people (men and women) want woman’s sports to be covered they need to “vote” with their dollars. Blogs and internet debates no matter how gratifying they may be don’t translate to coverage.

        If you want a call to action – go see women’s professional sports ( take your friends and family), buy jerseys etc, buy magazines that feature women athletes. If you have the choice of one type of entertainment or women’s sports choose women’s sports. Wear a WNBA jersey to your next yoga class instead of something from Lululemon. Your choices matter. The consumer has to take some responsibility for they are offered.


    • Briana Rognlin

      Happy to see the lively debate in the comment section, here. As Blisstree editor and a consumer myself, I think a lot about why and how things get covered, both here and in other media. We’re not quite the New York Times, but we’re not a nonprofit; we have to worry about traffic and numbers, too.

      It’s true that you can’t ignore the economics of the situation, but I don’t think a blase attitude helps, either. Sure, we all get sick of debating the same issues over and over again when it seems like we should be past them–but glib remarks like “girl power bla bla bla” feel dismissive of the issues entirely.

      I also think it’s worth looking at other minority groups in history, too. There was a time when people weren’t too interested in watching black, Hispanic or Asian athletes, either. And I’m sure that plenty of people would have defended the lack of diversity in teams and media coverage as simply a function of demographics and advertising dollars in entertainment. But I’m glad that people fought against that kind of attitude.

      We’ve seen big progress in recent years with female access to sports and media coverage of female athletes, but as this article points out, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

      So, here’s my call to arms for readers: Click on things that are important to you. If female athletes are important and interesting to you, then click on the posts we write about them. Comment, even; ask for more. We do our best to balance content between what we think is important to say (see: this post) and what we think people will click and read (see: anything that involves celebrities, to be frank). But if no one clicks, then, unfortunately, it’s like “Well” says: We have to spend our time wisely and profitably, which means writing about things that get readers on our site.

      HFD and Well, thanks for your comments on the post. The fact that you’re reading and reacting helps us keep quality content on our site.