Archive for July, 2011

Women’s World Cup TV Ratings

July 25, 2011

The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup final between the U.S. and Japan on Sun., July 17 drew a rating of 7.4, which equates to about 13.5 million viewers according to Sports Media Watch. Here are a few comparisons to put this figure in perspective:

  • It was the second-highest rated women’s soccer match ever, behind only the 1999 U.S/China World Cup final (17.975M viewers), which aired on broadcast network ABC.
  • It was the most-viewed soccer telecast (regardless of gender) ever on ESPN, the sixth-most viewed soccer telecast ever on a single network (again, regardless of gender), and the second-most viewed daytime program in the history of cable television.
  • Compared to other recent sporting events, the match drew more viewers than the 2011 Pro Bowl (13.406M, FOX), 2011 MLB All-Star Game (10.970M, FOX), and Game 3 of the 2010 World Series (SF/TEX G3: 11.460M, FOX). Notably, all three of these events were on network television.
  • The match also topped the most-viewed MLB game in cable history (NYY/TEX G6: 11.863M, TBS), the most-viewed NBA game in cable history (MIA/CHI G1: 11.109M, TNT), and the most-viewed Stanley Cup Final telecast in 38 years (BOS/VAN: 8.540M, NBC), each of which took place within the past year.
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Sport, stratification, and ideology

July 17, 2011

Rather than simply being a frivolous way to pass one’s spare time, sport has many “uses” in society. One common use throughout history involves sport’s ability to stratify people by separating and creating distinctions between them. For example, sport is most commonly structured into sex segregated teams, leagues, and competitions. While such a structure is often justified as a means to promote female participation, in some ways, it exists for men’s protection by preventing the possibility that men will be bested by a woman. This allows male superiority to exist unchallenged.

Somewhat similarly, a relatively unchallenged belief in white physical supremacy existed in the past. As Carrington (2010) describes, the core ideas that whites were intellectually, aesthetically, and physically superior became dominant components of racial ideology as classical racial science cohered during the 19th century. Sport, usually practiced in segregated settings, became a key component of “proving” white superiority. However, as black athletes, such as heavyweight champion boxer Jack Johnson, defeated white athletes in competition, beliefs about innate superiority were challenged. As Carrington writes, “if that central aspect of racial ideology [physical superiority] proved to be false, then where did that leave the theory of white supremacy itself, founded as it was, in part, upon the ‘facts’ of physical preeminence?” (p. 75). In response to such a question, Carrington suggests the success of people of African ancestry in sport became a “problem” to be investigated and the racial troupe of “the black athlete” emerged. However, the point I wish to make here is that it was through integrated competition that dominant racial ideology was challenged. If more sport leagues and events were to integrate with respect to sex, how might this lead people to rethink aspects of dominant gender ideology?

Reference:

  • Carrington, B. (2010). Race, sport and politics: The sporting black diaspora. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.