Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Media - Images and Words In Women's Sports: The Foundation Position

Read the following article on how words and images can greatly affect women athletes. The Women's Sports Foundation has a wealth of information on issues related to the portrayal of female athletes in the media. The first few paragraphs are offered below. Click here to read the entire article.

Media - Images and Words In Women's Sports: The Foundation Position
In 1994, the Women’s Sports Foundation issued “Words to Watch,” guidelines for treating male and female athletes equally in sports reporting and commentary. This publication was developed in response to a number of events in which media were criticized for sexist comments made during network broadcasts or in newspaper and magazine coverage of women’s sports. The guidelines were distributed to electronic and print media on the Foundation’s media list and by request. “Words to Watch” was adapted with permission of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sports, 1994. Section II of this publication remains as “Words to Watch.”

In response to numerous questions and criticisms of the visual and narrative portrayal of female athletes on television and female athlete imagery appearing in print media, the Foundation has expanded its “Words to Watch” publication to incorporate imagery and to raise pertinent issues related to authentic and realistic reporting about and depiction of girls and women in sports and fitness. “Images to Watch” was added to this publication in October of 1995 and the main title revised accordingly (see Section I of this publication).

This publication also includes a new section written specifically for female athletes who are asked to participate in electronic and print media advertising or other projects. This section (see Section III) was designed to educate athletes about their rights as models and to provide ethics guidelines for decision-making related to their participation in advertising and other visual and written programming regarding how they are portrayed. These guidelines were reviewed by over 50 of the nation’s most highly visible champion female athletes.

Also new to the publication is a section on “Most Often Asked Questions About Media Coverage of Women in Sports.” The Foundation answers approximately 100,000 inquiries a year on women’s sports. These questions range from, “I’ve just moved to Kansas City. How do I find a youth soccer team for my daughter?” to media questions like, “What is wrong with wanting to portray women as feminine and physically attractive?” Section IV contains the answers to the questions most often asked of the Foundation about media coverage of women’s sports.

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