REPOST: University of Windsor Lancers basketball coverage criticized by school president
Alan Wildeman says shine light equally on male and female athletic accomplishments
CBC News Posted: Mar 17, 2015 4:08 PM ET
University of Windsor staff, including the school’s president, are calling for equality in the media coverage of men’s and women’s sports.
University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman this week criticized The Globe and Mail newspaper’s coverage of the recent national women’s basketball championship won by the Lancers.
Wildeman took issue with Monday’s front page of The Globe and Mail’s sports section, which predominantly featured the Carleton Ravens winning their fifth consecutive CIS men’s basketball championship Sunday.
That same day, the Windsor Lancers women’s basketball team completed the same accomplishment, defeating the McGill Martlets in the CIS women’s final to capture its fifth consecutive championship.
‘Why is it when women, when they succeed equally to men are not being given the same kind of airplay, and the same kind of space, and the same kind of acknowledgement in the media?’
– Alan Wildeman, president, University of Windsor
A short story about the Lancers did appear in the paper, on page three of the sports section, something Wildeman takes exception to.
In a letter to the editor published Tuesday in The Globe and Mail and on its website, Wildeman writes, “Judging by the The Globe and Mail on Monday, women’s basketball is less important.
“The front page of the sports section heralded five consecutive wins by the impressive Carleton men’s team. The five consecutive victories by the equally impressive Windsor women’s team managed a small sidebar inside.”
Wildeman told CBC News there was a way of casting an equal light on both of the accomplishments.
“If you win five national championships, you’ve reached a similar level of achievement and accomplishment and it should be recognized similarly, it should be the same wattage of light bulb that is shone upon that and when we marginalize that kind of success, we are doing the same as what we are accused of doing when we keep the tribulations of women in the shadows,” he said.
“It’s obvious right now there’s a great deal of concern in the media within our institutions across Canada about some of the unseen and unreported things that happen to women and when we keep those tribulations in the shadows, that’s not the right thing to do. And at the same time when we have successes and we marginalize women’s success that too is disrespectful.”
There are studies that show sports coverage overwhelmingly favours male sports.
Marge Holman, the former chair of community group called Leadership for Advancing Women in Sport, says research in the 1990s found women’s sports accounted for about five per cent of all sports coverage. A push to change that increased coverage to about eight per cent, she said.
“Once the pressure was off, it reverted back to four per cent,” Holman said.
“Why is it when women, when they succeed equally to men are not being given the same kind of airplay, and the same kind of space, and the same kind of acknowledgement in the media?” Wildeman asked.
Coverage ‘symbolic of persistent inequities’
Both the men’s and women’s finals were broadcast on Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet ONE.
The network reports the women’s final drew an average audience of 42,000 viewers compared with 53,000 who tuned into the men’s final.
Holman said she appreciates Wildeman’s letter.
“So often there are so few of us pointing this out to the media and the public. We’ve been dealing with this issue for decades and nothing changes,” she said.
Holman said coverage of the CIS basketball championships is “is symbolic of the persistent inequities in sport.”
“We just accept what is rather than taking a look and saying what should be,” she said. “There’s no reason it can’t be done.”
The Globe and Mail sports editor Shawna Richer did not immediately respond to a CBC interview request.
Martha Young, who is currently the chair of LAWS, said gains have been made in women’s hockey and curling.
“But we’re always second,” she said.
Here is Wildeman’s letter as it appeared in The Globe and Mail:
Celebrate the women
The weekend saw many exciting year-end championship events for Canadian Interuniversity Sport (5 – Sports, March 16). Among the highlights were results in both women’s and men’s basketball, where both the Windsor Lancers women’s team and the Carleton Ravens men’s team won their fifth consecutive national championship. Congratulations to both.
Judging by The Globe and Mail on Monday, women’s basketball is less important. The front of the Sports section heralded five consecutive victories by the impressive Carleton men’s team. The five consecutive victories by the equally impressive Windsor women’s team managed a small sidebar inside. Online, the arleton victory warranted inclusion in the banner stories in the Sports section. The Windsor victory made a transient appearance lower down.
In the same way that we should not keep the tribulations of women in the shadows, we should not keep their successes on the margins.
Alan Wildeman, president and vice-chancellor, University of Windsor
NOTE: A previous version of this story did not include Sportsnet ONE audience numbers. The men’s and women’s finals aired on both Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet ONE, with 53,000 viewers watching the men’s game and 42,000 viewers watching the women’s game.