Media Coverage of the Female Athlete Before, during, and after Title IX: Sports Illustrated Revisited

in Journal of Sport Management
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This study examined the impact of Title IX on media coverage given to female athletes to determine if there has been a shift away from negative social stereotypes traditionally associated with women’s sports participation toward a more socially accepting view of the female athlete. A content analysis of feature articles within 1,228 issues of Sports Illustrated was undertaken for the years 1964-1987. These represented three 8-year time spans before (1964-71), during (1972-79), and after (1980-87) Title IX. In order to assess whether attitudes have changed toward female athletes as related to a Title IX timeline, amount and type of coverage were considered. Chi-square analyses revealed mixed results. There was a significant increase in the proportion of coverage given to women in athletic (e.g., professional golfer) versus nonathletic (e.g., swimsuit model) roles. However, feature articles about female athletes gave significantly more coverage to women in "sex-appropriate" sports such as tennis versus "sex-inappropriate" sports such as rugby, regardless of the Title IX time frame. Results are discussed in terms of challenging current beliefs that women’s athletics have gained widespread social acceptance following the enactment of Tide IX. Implications for practitioners and academics within sport management are presented.

Direct all correspondence to Mary Jo Kane, School of HPER, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403.
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