Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sexism in Sports Coverage?

ESPN is airing highlights from the college softball finals. In the tenth inning of a 0-0 game, an Arizona runner slid around the Tennessee catcher who was blocking the plate. She was ruled safe, and Arizona went on to win 1-0, tying the best-of-three final at one game apiece.

I don't usually find college softball interesting--how can anyone enjoy a game where 2/3 of the batters strike out?--but this clip was different, because it really, really, REALLY looks like the runner completely missed the plate on her slide. This was obviously a critical call in a championship game, and the ump may have gotten it wrong.

ESPN didn't see it that way, however. They aired the slide, praised the runner for her effort, and showed Arizona celebrating after their win. No mention was made of the controversial safe call. If this kind of thing happened in any important baseball game, let alone the World Series, everyone would be all over it. Just ask Don Denkinger.

Obviously ESPN's treatment is influenced by the fact that most of its audience simply doesn't care who won this game, but I can't help but think that the gender of the participants played a part.

However, that doesn't mean it was ESPN's fault. After all, when the call was made, we didn't see the players or coaches running out to scream and whine, kick dirt on the umps, or lob the resin bag like a hand grenade. Perhaps women are not only the fair sex, but the more mature one?

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