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Nadejys poidet
After many decades of denial and invisibility in our society, women are finally being recognized. Athletic women have made substantial progress with their presence in the media. The 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games were a major turning point for female athletes. They were finally given coverage by the media and appeared in magazines and on television nationwide. Many photographs were taken of Florence Griffith Joyner (FloJo) running down the track in her fashionable and flashy outfit during the 1988 Olympics. Likewise, enormous media coverage if female athletes in the 1992 Olympics focused on gymnasts. Exposure of the female athlete had arrived! Or had it? Was this coverage focusing on the athlete or the female? Had the female athlete really gained considerable ground in society? The presence of women in the media appears to have changed women?s social status. However, upon closer look, the feminized images still exhibit stereotypical ideas of women and femininity.

The media has played a significant role in the manner that women are represented in society. It has had the power to show advancements that women have made in athletics, yet at the same time reinforcing stereotypical gender roles. The images of FloJo in the media during the 1988 Olympic Games explain how female athletes are represented overall. Is she remembered as a talented athlete who won 3 Olympic medals or as? a fashion model/designer who performed in long tresses, lavish makeup, and racy one-legged running suits that emphasize sexual difference?? (Duncan, 1990, p.23). FloJo was portrayed as a woman and therefore? socially constructed? (Greendorfer, 1990). At the same time, she was depicted differently than the male track runners. Her fashion, body, and feminine character were emphasized rather than her athletic ability.

Track and field is not the only sport where female athletes are not portrayed as? athletes?. The media emphasized gender roles when Chris Evert, the famous and accomplished tennis player, retired in 1989. Evert?s retirement was so significant that Sports Illustrated put her picture on the cover of the August 28, 1989 issue. What might appear to be a major accomplishment was devalued when the caption to her picture read, ?I?m Going to Be a Full Time Wife? (Sports Illustrated, 1989). The caption could have easily acknowledged one of her many achievements. Instead, the socially accepted gender role stereotypes were emphasized on the cover of a sports related magazine. Figure skater Katarina Witt?s femininity was stressed in a Sports Illustrated magazine when the article was describing a major Figure Skating that occurred before the 1994 Olympics. The controversy was about allowing professional figure skaters to return to amateur skating so that they can compete in the Olympics. Conversely, the article showed Katarina Witt as a sexy female who appeared in a? peek-a-boo photo posing in veritable buffet of semi-naughty attire? rather than her desire to return back to the competition level (Swift, 1993, p.23). She had worked many hours in preparation for the Olympics in hope that she would again be allowed to compete. Her attractiveness and femininity appealed more to the predominantly male viewer rather than her athleticism.

The media has formed female athletes as? bastardized, perhaps even counterfeit version of the? real? (men?s) sport? (Kane and Snyder, 1989, p. 92). The media reinforcing the female athlete as feminine and sexual individuals undermines their athletic accomplishments. Female athletes appear belittled and less important than their athletic male counterparts.

Margaret Duncan and Cynthia Hasbrook in the Sociology of Sport Journal argue, ?sports perpetuate male superiority and female inferiority more than any other social institution? (1988, p.18). Athletic sports are about physical competition that emphasizes male fitness, muscu
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