‘You had to cover nadia comaneci’: ‘Points of change’ in coverage of women’s sport

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Abstract

In the 1970s, women’s sport underwent significant change in the United States resulting in an increase of participation opportunities and funding at the interscholastic, intercollegiate, professional and international levels. Yet, media outlets continued to ignore women and, at best, portray them in gender stereotypical ways. Considering the lack of progress for women in sports media coverage, this study employs sport historian Jaime Schultz’s ‘points of change’ framework in order to identify those moments that constituted an ideological shift in the process of covering women’s sport. Drawing upon oral history interviews with journalists who wrote about women’s sport in the 1970s and 1980s, this research provides a deeper look into how journalists experienced and addressed the shifting gender ideologies of the time period. Journalists’ memories, accompanied by their articles, reveal how media practitioners negotiated meanings about femininity and athleticism in response to events that challenged deeply embedded assumptions about gender and its intersections wiThethnicity, race and sexuality. This exploratory research, thus, identifies several ‘points of change’-or points of struggle, conflict and resistance-and calls for a re-periodization of the history of women’s sports coverage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1551-1573
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Volume33
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Journalism
  • Media coverage
  • Oral history
  • Social change
  • Women’s sport

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