Well, you might think that women don't play as much sport as men, or maybe just not at an elite level. Even so, there is not only a difference in the quantity of female athlete media coverage; there is most certainly also a difference in the quality and content of it. When it comes to newspapers, women have approximately 10.7% coverage, whereas men have 79.1%, (mixed 10.2%). On sports/current affairs TV, women have approximately 1.6%, while men have 64.8%, (mixed 33.6%).
We also hear it time and again where commentators put a large emphasis on the female attire, making either rude or inappropriate remarks about the athlete's body or clothing.
In tennis especially there have been a few incidences where a massive uproar has been caused about the commentary made, where the commentators have either offended the athlete or made inappropriate, sexual comments.
For example the sexist remark Roger Rasheed made in 2008 about Venus Williams, saying, "Make or think as you will, ladies, but for me, that's a pretty good sight". Or the comment John Indervale made just recently in July this year about Marion Bartoli, saying, "Do you think Bartoli's dad told her when she was little: 'You're never going to be a looker, you'll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight'?"
There is a clear discrepancy between males and females when it comes to the portrayal of their physical appearance. Men aren't criticised about their lack of sex appeal nor are they verbally admired for it.
So how much are we really expecting of our female athletes? What are we really encouraging, their sex appeal or their championing athleticism? There is nothing wrong with female athlete's wanting to look glamorous and beautiful, but we shouldn't expect it of them. Nor should looks be rewarded and promoted above their athletic endeavours.
Sport has so much more to offer than the physical appearance of its competitors. We should on no grounds taint the incredible achievements of our female athletes by demeaning their successes through putting so much focus on their physical appearance, especially not through criticising it!
Annemarie de Villiers is studying sports science and has a dream to be a sports scientist for a professional club. Born in South Africa, raised in New Zealand and tertiary professionally qualified in Melbourne Australia.
Annmarie de Villers previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/annemarie-de-villiers.html