Sports Coverage Equity

Saylor Stottlemyer, Head Features Editor

The sports section of newspapers and websites has grown in the past 75 years as there is more interest from both genders and more eccentric sports are becoming popular. However, these media sources can unequally represent the sports that they cover, by having larger emphasis on certain sports, and only giving others a simple column or a small, pictureless update.

According to a 2015 study from the University of Southern California, The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, or ESPN, only allotted 2% of its broadcasting time to women’s sports.  

This number has not changed in 26 years.

“When Kylie Behn won state for diving in February, it was an incredible feat. When I looked in the newspaper for a huge story, all I saw was a 300 word column and a picture that was taken a year ago. A DHS basketball story took up three quarters of the page with a huge photo, and they lost the game,” said a parent of the DHS Swim & Dive team.

Even if the Durango Heralds’ motive wasn’t sexist, there is still an issue of prioritizing sports over the level of achievement. Does winning a state competition trump losing a basketball game?

On the other hand, Kylie Behn thinks that her performance was covered pretty well throughout Durango, with one article and one editorial. The editorial was about the revived DHS Diving program, and highlighted Kylie Behn for her impressive achievement.

“I think that I was congratulated and and supported a lot from winning the state meet. Even though I may not have gotten all the headlines, I still received praise from my teachers, and friends, which I think matters more than words on a piece of paper,” said Behn.

Some argue that newspaper sports coverage mainly comes from placing well-known and well-received sports as the large articles, because their readership increases. Basketball, Football, Soccer etc. are more likely to be relatable, so media platforms will emphasize those sports.

“It is easier to cover major sports because of a built in national following, and understanding of the sport,” said Daniel Riecks, former advisor of El Diablo Newspaper.

All published media is guilty of placing trademark athletics as the strongest article, even in the El Diablo Newspaper.

I was disappointed that El Diablo did not make the 2015 Boy’s Cross Country state championship a front page of the paper story, mainly because it was easily the biggest event of that news cycle. Regardless of section, whenever someone, or some team, from the high school achieves greatness at the state or national level, it should lead the news coverage,” said Riecks.

Apart from published sources, winning a state-level competition in both Diving and Cross-Country wasn’t as received as other close towns. In Bayfield, when the Wolverines achieved their state title in Football, they were received with a massive parade welcoming back the athletes and coaches.

Unfortunately, there was no community gathering for either of these Durango State Champions.

Is the reason that the Wolverines were welcomed with a parade because the sport was understandable, popular, and well-received, or was it because of the achievement despite the sport? Sports are covered in unequal amounts, but the question is whether or not that inequality is justified through the readership.