” Meanwhile the networks have critics cornered; if a reviewer says attractive women are on the sidelines to stimulate libidos in male viewers, those critics are sexist. Although it is obvious in a brutally violent game, an attractive, well-spoken female brightens up the broadcast aesthetically, it is also sexist to assume beautiful women dont understand football. As Andrew writes, “I love it when my wife talks about zone defense.”
Meanwhile a research article (“College students attitudes toward the sexualization of professional women”) reported two experiments that examined “how tawdry media sexualizations of women athletes influence the perceived gender-role orientation of athletes” (Harrison, et al., 2010). The findings revealed that when female basketball players were presented to 85 students (64 women, 24 men) in “tawdry sexualization” scenes, the perception was that they were “feminine” (read that heterosexual). However, female athletes that are beautiful and sexy “violate traditional expectations that athletes have masculine characteristics, such as strength and determination” and hence the research showed the non-sexualized women were perceived as being better athletes, and participants would be more apt to pay to see the non-sexualized women play than the attractive sexualized players (Harrison, p. 11).
Conclusion: The media will do whatever it takes to increase ratings.
That is not rocket science. And when it comes to the pornification of pop culture — for example, ESPN featuring quasi-risque images of Erin Andrews on their website — and the male gaze (sideline reporters), the television industrys profits rise. In a capitalistic democratic system, making money is the nirvana. If women are exploited, well, if that helps TVs bottom line, it is going to be the strategy, notwithstanding the protests of feminists and the lack of good taste.
Harrison, Lisa a, and Secarea, Ashley M. (2010). College Students attitudes toward the sexualization of professional women athletes. Journal of Sport Behavior, 33(4), 403-427.
Levitt, Steven D., and Dubner, Stephen J. (2010). Why Are Most of Footballs Sideline
Reporters Women? Freakonomics. The New.