Has She Got "Sex Appeal?": Critical Feminism and the Australian Sports Media

By Chelsea Litchfield and Steve Redhead.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Communication

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Apart from a few exceptions, women’s sports are omitted from both free to air television broadcasts and the sports pages in Australia. Such an absence is explained by one television network as the need for sports media to focus on "premium and significant sports." These "significant" sports in Australia are often described as Australian football (AFL), rugby league (NRL), soccer, and cricket and all are known for their high profile competitions and male participants. Defining men’s sports as significant results in sports journalists focusing their attention to commentate on and write about these sports, usually to the exclusion of women’s sports. Therefore, this results in a plethora of sports media around men’s sports, sporting competitions, and male athletes in Australia and very little media attention awarded to female sports, sporting competitions, and female athletes. This sports media culture is also fuelled by the opinions of many unqualified (predominantly male) ex-athletes working as "sports journalists." At present, most (if not all) of the cricket, AFL, and NRL commentators in the television broadcasts in Australia are ex-players. Ex-athletes reporting on sport further promotes a masculine culture in the sports media in Australia, whereby women are further disenfranchised from sporting coverage. Using a critical feminist lens, this culture is explored in the current manuscript.

Keywords: Women, Sport Journalism, Australia

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Communication, Volume 9, Issue 2, March 2015, pp.1-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 480.312KB).

Dr. Chelsea Litchfield

Lecturer, School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia

Prof. Steve Redhead

Professor, Faculty of Arts, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia