The freedom to choose: Elite female athletes' preferred representations within endorsement opportunities

Janet S. Fink, Mary Jo Kane, Nicole M. LaVoi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite unprecedented gains in women's sports 40 years after Title IX, female athletes are rarely used in endorsement campaigns and, when used, are presented in sexually provocative poses versus highlighting their athletic competence. This pattern of representation continues, though empirical evidence demonstrates consumers prefer portrayals focusing on sportswomen's skill versus their sex appeal. Research also indicates females are keenly aware of gendered expectations which create tensions between being athletic and "appropriately feminine." The current study addresses what we don't know: how elite female athletes wish to be portrayed if promised the same amount of financial reward and commercial exposure. Thirty-six team and individual scholarship athletes were asked to choose between portrayals of femininity and athletic competence. Findings revealed that competence was the dominant overall choice though close to 30% picked both types of portrayals. Metheny's gendered sport typology was used to analyze how sportswomen's preferences challenge, or conform to, traditional ideologies and practices surrounding women's sports. Implications for sport management scholars and practitioners are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-219
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Sport Management
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

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