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Women's Basketball. Follow the Money.

A feminist friend wrote me the following text yesterday: I’ve been watching the women’s March Madness finals and the quarterfinals before that. These women are unbelievable, and the viewership is beyond that of the men’s, as well as the ticket price. It will make an impact for the respect women get.

Here is my response. 

Yes, it will have an impact, but there is an investment by the male-dominated sports world to make sure they continue to dominate in the press and around all media presenting sports.

Let's look at who is leading the viewers...

From 2021 data, the most recent available from ESPN:

  • 79.2% of the sports editors were white and 83.3% were men.

  • 72.0% of the assistant sports editors were white and 75.8% were men.

  • 77.1% of the columnists were white; 82.2% were men.

  • 77.1% of the reporters were white; 85.6% were men.

  • 77.0% of the copy editors/designers were white; 75.3% were men.

  • 72.4% of web specialists were white; 78.1% were men.

Women play basketball a bit differently, in my opinion. They are more connected to the team, more emotionally driven when playing, and more watchable, really.

Now, let's ponder the different size of the ball for women and men.

Women shoot from further out for 3 pointers. Interesting. The ball is slightly lighter, but I am not sure it would change that data point, rather than give commentators less room for 'well, they can, the ball is lighter.' Why not make the balls for both genders the same size and weight?

In 1935, Dittebrant suggested the introduction of a smaller and lighter basketball for female players (Dittebrant, 1935, in Pitts and Semenick, 1988). The author stated that the standard basketball was too heavy and too large for women, and that women's palms were too small to efficiently control the ball.

The women's games set records last week; the most viewed college basketball game of all time on television was not the men's March Madness. It was the UConn Iowa game with Caitlin Clark on center stage.

The ad cost for that game was $500,000 per spot, versus the men's $1,000,000 per spot. Granted, the increase for the women's spot was twelve times more than the previous year, but half the men's, with millions more viewers? And many of them female? And females do most of the buying of goods and services? Seriously?

Follow the money, women friends. Follow the money.

Pay attention to the ad buy costs.

Pay attention to the women commentators and what is covered and what time and what day?

Yes, we had a great moment last week. And it wasn't a 'one-off.' Look at women's volleyball at my alma mater, the University of Nebraska, and weep for men's football there if you care. It's not a one-off. But, it will take our voices backing up a demand for what we want to see in advertising and a demand for our voices off the court, commentating about what is happening on the court, as well.

Congrats to all the women playing basketball last week. Well done. I'm so proud to be a woman right now. This is just one more reason.

-- Christine Merser, Founder, Blue 2 Media


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