Representation of Athletic Girls on Young Adult Sport Fiction Cover Art

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 Sam Houston State University
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The purpose of this study was to examine how and how often athletic girls were represented on the cover art of young adult (YA) sport fiction. In this research, 154 YA sport fiction books were analyzed using quantitative content analysis. Using existing sport research and theory focused on women’s representation in sport media, the researchers developed a coding scheme to assess cover art for each of the following categories: (a) presence and racial representation of female character/s on cover; (b) portrayal of female body on cover (whole body, partial body/with head, or partial body/without head); (c) portrayal of female character as active or passive; (d) portrayal of female character in or out of athletic uniform; (e) portrayal of female character in or out of the sport setting; (f) presence of sport equipment; and (g) type of cover. Findings revealed that 81% of the book covers had a female character in which 29% of the covers displayed the whole body, 47% displayed partial body/with head, and 23% displayed partial body/with no head of the female character. Only 0.06% of the book covers had a female character of color. Approximately 31% of the female characters were displayed in active positioning, 58% in athletic attire, and 44% in the sport setting. Of the books reviewed, 55% displayed equipment on the cover. The findings indicate that athletic girls have few images on YA sport fiction cover art that accurately represent their athleticism, and there is a clear absence of diverse representation. It is critical that those responsible for the design and layout of book covers clearly represent active females in action, in uniform, and in the sport context.

The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, USA.

Roper (EAR007@SHSU.EDU) is corresponding author.
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