So, it’s happened. There are razor blades, TV shows, music, clothes, and now, sports news websites that are designed to specifically appeal to women. Well, I am a woman, and I do not find this appealing.
The sports news website, ESPNW, is a category of ESPN designed to connect “young women to the sports they love and follow,” according to the ESPN website. But how, I question, did these young women learn to love and follow these sports before this obviously gender-specific website? I’d probably guess through the same means as all sports fans do, –and yes, I mean even men—through the original ESPN webpage.
But now, sadly, women are expected to jump ship, because we are obviously attracted to curvy fonts and the color pink more than hard-hitting sports journalism.
If you really think about this issue, it is actually sad that I knew from the second I first saw the heading of the site that this was meant to appeal to women and to deter men.
That italic, sloping ‘W’ next to the typical ESPN logo meant, “Hey, we’re assuming you don’t know much about sports or else you’d actually be checking the real ESPN, but that’s ok, because we’ve got some crucial sports basics so you have something to talk about on Sunday football parties.”
I understand why a site like this exists. ESPN is trying to highlight women’s place in sports and the achievements that they make. In theory, an idea like this is well intended, but in execution, it comes off not quite so. A website that claims to be an “initiative designed to serve, inform and inspire female athletes and fans,” should have topical news stories that actually do “inform.”
However, the headlines on the page are all of either irrelevant, or old stories.
The key story of the day? News on Becky Hammon’s “journey to be the first female NBA assistant,” which was published 33 days ago. Sidebars? Love and Baseball: Sports dating sites help fans meet their matches online. It’s not until you scroll past the pink captions that you find actual updated information.
About here, I would whip out some strategically researched statistics about how many people also find this offensive, but alas, there are none. Nowhere is there any mention of the gender separation that is going on with the existence of this website.
All I can really stress is that “Females account for more than a third of 14 million- plus people that tune into major events like the NBA Finals, World Series, Daytona 500, and Stanley Cup Finals, according to data from Nielsen,” as quoted in Forbes. And in fact, that same article mentions that 45.9 percent of the 111 million people that tuned into watch the Super Bowl in 2011 were women.
If the prospects of this website are to inspire young females, then they should show their viewers that women make headlines WITH men; that what is going on in the WNBA is as important as what’s going on in the NFL. In fact, the WNBA is not even featured in the sports list on ESPN, and can only be found on ESPNW.
If they truly wanted to inspire women, ESPN should show women breaking through the gender barriers that have been associated with sports for so long. There should be women on the air, in the press box, on the field making a difference, and competing for headlines based on their athletic performance, and not their gender.
What ESPNW is really telling me is that women’s athletic headlines cannot possibly be featured on a major sports news page like the real ESPN, and therefore need a totally segregated page to make it above the fold.