In 2019, the U.S. Women’s National Team earned its fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup. Has gendered commentary in media coverage about the U.S. Women’s National Team changed since winning their first World Cup 20 years ago? Drawing on 188 newspaper articles published in three U.S. newspapers in 2019, the analyses contrast media representations of the 2019 team with a previous study focused on coverage of the 1999 team. Our analysis shows important shifts in the coverage over time. The 1999 team was popular because of their contradictory femininity in which they were “strong-yet-soft.” By 2019, the team’s popularity was rooted in their talent, hard work, success, and refusal to be silent about persisting gender-based disparities in sport and the larger society.
Eileen Díaz McConnell, Neal Christopherson, and Michelle Janning
Neal Christopherson, Michelle Janning, and Eileen Diaz McConnell
The 1999 Women’s World Cup Soccer Championship serves as a particularly good site for examining both the social construction of gender and the structure of contradiction surrounding women’s role in sport and society. We conducted a content analysis of 576 American newspaper articles reporting on the 1999 Women’s World Cup Soccer Championship. Contradictory messages surrounding women and sports were present, as past research has suggested. An analysis of more qualitative aspects of our data reveals the structure of these contradictions and provides substantial depth to this analysis. We discuss how the media actively promoted or constructed certain gender ideologies and how these gender ideologies contributed to the popularity of the event.