What Syracuse University Female Athletes Think about Inequality in Sports Journalism

Manley Field House is the Athletic Training facility for most Syracuse University female athletes. Some of them told us their opinions.

By Gabriela Knutson SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – – It’s been 45 years since the establishment of Title 9, which gave women equal rights in sports in 1972. But sports journalism is still not treating women equally.

The Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport says women’s sports only receive 2 to 4 percent of sports coverage, even though 40 percent of sports participants are female. 

In 2015, only 13 of ESPN’s 405 sports segments were about females, and the highest paid male athlete makes 10.1 times as much as the average female athlete does. 

“It’s sad, and I would like that female athletes would be at the same level and had the same value as male athletes so we all feel equal,” says Syracuse University women’s tennis player Anna Shkudun. 

Syracuse University, a Division 1 school that plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference, is known for it’s men’s football and basketball. Athletes from other sports sometimes feel overlooked by the media.

Women’s lacrosse player Bri Stahrr says she does not like the way some newspapers prioritize the reporting of some sports over others.

“Two years ago when field hockey won their National Championship, the first page on the newspaper the next morning was about SU football, that they just lost another game. And you couldn’t find anything about the field hockey team until you made it to the middle of the newspaper. That was the Post-Standard,” Stahrr says. 

Anna Shkudun does not feel adequately represented either, and she tells us why.

“Because even some people didn’t know that Syracuse has female tennis athletes. I feel we are not represented enough even though we are doing pretty well. But compared to basketball and football I feel like a lot of sports are staying in the shade,” Shkudun says. 

Women’s tennis coach Shelley George tells her athletes they have the university’s support. 

“I feel like we try very hard here at Syracuse to make things equal for all of you. I know that on our end we try very hard to make things equal and that you are getting what other sports are getting as well,” George says. 

Sports cinematographer Michael Graber told CNN that getting women into the stands is key to winning more television coverage and the big salaries that come with that exposure. Coach Shelley George believes things are improving for women, and is optimistic about the future for women’s sports.

“I think there’s been some small movement with putting women’s sports on TV right now. I know with the ACC network. We’re going to have more opportunity for people to see our young athletes perform, so I am hoping the viewership will go up from that, and that you guys will have more opportunity to be exposed to having that viewership,” George says. 

Young girls drop out of sports 6 times as much as men. Experts say one factor of this may be that young girls do not see themselves represented in the media and don’t have many opportunities to see their role models on TV.

Stahrr tells these young girls to keep striving and shooting for the stars, no matter who is trying to shut you down.

“Use that as your motivation. Be like yeah there might not be a lot of people who are looking to represent female athletes out there but use that to make yourself want to get better and be so good that they can’t not notice you,” Stahrr says.