Efforts for more female athlete recognition under way, Wildcat athletes say they deserve more

By ALEX VERDUZCO

While female athletes make up a total of 44% of all athletes, they receive a fraction of the coverage male sports do, as female sports coverage is less than 10% of all media attention.

This is according to Togethxr, a media company founded by female olympians Alex Morgan, Sue Bird, Chloe Kim and Simone Manuel launched a platform in March 2021 dedicated to showcasing more women in sports.

These decorated athletes use their voice to uplift fellow women in the field of sports and put out content to shine a spotlight on those who otherwise would not be featured in televised programs.

Digital art created to incorporate the sports of founders of Togethxr, sports coverage company highlighting women in the media on Dec. 15, 2022 (ALEX VERDUZCO/Ethic News media)

Since 1989, a study has been conducted every five years by the University of Southern California and Purdue University, with the purpose of revealing the percentage of female sports media coverage when compared to male sports coverage. The most recent findings, published in 2019,  revealed that 95% of sports media coverage tends to revolve around men’s sports, leaving that remaining 5% to presumably feature women’s sports.

These results raise the following questions, “Why do men’s sports grab the most attention?” and, “Do women deserve more recognition in media coverage?” Yes, female athletes put in the same amount of training and undergo the same requirements to be recruited in professional sports as do their male competitors. Why are sports presented differently based on the gender of the players? If, according to the study’s data, women are receiving some small amount of attention in the media, then why is the percent staying the same rather than increasing over time?

 Cheryl Cooky, professor at Purdue University of American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, explains that the reasoning behind this is due to women landing a piece in the news that is often overshadowed by multiple accomplishments done by male athletes. With this, “one and done,” as she refers to it, the amount of content highlighting women’s achievements in sports is buried by the male dominated industry, and their surplus of coverage which limits the attention of female athletes. This restricts the increase of recognition women receive.

Do female athletes deserve more recognition in sports? Redlands East Valley High School student athletes weigh in.

Kate Sorenson of the REV varsity girls’ wrestling team says, “Girls’ wrestling is rarely ever shown in the media which makes opportunities far fewer. If women received the same amount of media coverage in our sport, we’d experience far more success and earn more praise for our accomplishments. Media coverage improves the quality of sports by increasing participation. For wrestling, the more women we have on the team, the more competitive we can be as a school. It’s hard to get girls interested in wrestling when girls are a minority.”

Kate Sorenson, representing Redlands East Valley High School varsity girls’ wrestling, stands in front of the weight room doors on Dec. 5, 2022. (ALEX VERDUZCO/ Ethic News photo)

Jason Knutson, mixed doubles badminton player at REV says, “Yes, womans’ sports should have more recognition, but the reason they don’t is because their sports are newer to the world than mens’ sports so they haven’t gained as much popularity and publicity.”

Jason Knutson, from the Redlands East Valley High School badminton team, stands in the REV library after school on Dec. 5, 2022. (ALEX VERDUZCO/ Ethic News photo)

“Yes, I do feel like girls in sports are unrecognized. I feel like this is also a part of hidden misogyny,” says Kate Heinze of the varsity water polo and swim team. “For example, boys’ water polo has been given money and is always talked about. But for girls’ water polo, we are a division 6 team and almost beat a team that has future Olympians on it; additionally, boards like the ABC [Aquatics Booster Club] refuses to give us money to travel to games for California Interscholastic Federation because we are destined to lose– why are they giving the boys’ team a chance but not ours? We deserve it just as much because we are bringing in wins.”

Celine Hill, captain of the varsity cheerleaders and water polo says, “Yeah, I believe women deserve equal representation in all fields including athletics. Like at football games, cheerleaders have supporters too and yet all the ticket money made goes toward the football players. Girls don’t seem to get funding in [school] sports like the boys do.”

Kate Heinze and Celine Hill varsity girls’ water polo players stand in front of the Redlands East Valley High School swimming pool fence on Dec. 5, 2022. (ALEX VERDUZCO/ Ethic News photo)

Dylan Cockerill, a member of the cross country and track team says, “Yes, women deserve equal representation compared to men.”

Jared Rubow, varsity boys’ tennis player, “Yes, that way we [as a society] can watch more tournaments.”

LEFT: Jared Rubow, Redlands East Valley High School varsity boys tennis player, stands in front of the trees on school campus before class starts on Dec. 5, 2022. RIGHT: Dylan Cockerill, REV cross country and track runner, stands in front of the pool fence after school on Dec. 5, 2022. (ALEX VERDUZCO, Ethic News Photo)

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