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ESPN for Women: Condescending or a Good Idea?

by Jean Bentley, posted Oct 18th 2010 11:30AM
espnWWomen are getting their own online sports destination from ESPN -- whether they like it or not.

ESPN's new women's brand, espnW, is launching this fall as a website, but could eventually become its own network, The New York Times reports. Laura Gentile, vice president of espnW, said the brand will be marketed toward women 18-34, and the site will launch this fall.

While some women's sports figures support the new brand -- "I don't think there's ever been this much planning, research and commitment before," said tennis legend Billie Jean King -- critics worry that a separate women-only presence is condescending, and would diminish the presence of women's sports on the flagship network.

"It seems like this is the broadcasting equivalent of making something pink and putting sparkles on it," wrote Cubs fan blogger Julie DiCaro. "For those of us that have worked really hard to keep up with the boys, that's kind of tough to hear."

But Gentile said that's not what the site would be about. "We're not going to do anything to condescend to fellow women because we are women, and we are sports fans at our core," she told the Times. "So as much as we will be talking about the WNBA a bit more and talking about women's college basketball a bit more, we'll also be talking about the NFL and the NBA and everything that sports fans care about."

The Times noted that a University of Southern California study found that womens' sports comprised only 1.4 percent of the airtime on 'SportsCenter' this year, a decrease from 2.2 percent in 2000. Michael A. Messner, one of the study's authors, said espnW "might ultimately ghettoize women's sports and kind of take ESPN off the hook in terms of actually covering them on its main broadcast."

Howver, Gentile said that a new brand is necessary because women prefer storytelling in their media coverage, and they like to learn more about female athletes and their accomplishments. "The idea is potentially cultivating this fan base of women's sports fans, where 10 years from now, girls are growing up truly feeling like ESPN is made for them and ESPN is truly their brand," she said.

Is espnW a good idea?
Yes, we need more women's sports coverage in any form649 (27.0%)
No, that means fewer women on ESPN proper898 (37.3%)
Maybe, we'll have to wait and see860 (35.7%)



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Gloria Cook

Does anybody scan the crowd at an NFL/AFL game? I think that the fun that begins early in the morning of game day is shared just as "party hardy" by women at Tailgate time. Women know and root for their favorite players and wear the players hats, jerseys and jackets in a great show of support. I also think it is great that Pro Football is wearing'Pink" during October as a show of support & recognition for
Breast Cancer Awareness. Please be sure to get a regular checkup and mammogram, Gloria

October 19 2010 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Preston

As a male viewer, I'm all for it! I think that ESPN, ESPN2 and other networks don't have enough room for women sports, since they want that perfect male demographic. This way ESPN for Women can show the WNBA games, the women's college basketball games and other women themed sports programming without having to struggle with their big cousin on those big networks and trying to get on Sportscenter and that catchy iconic theme song that opens the show.

October 19 2010 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John

Certainly not anything I'm interested in as a guy. If it works for women, perfect. Have no problem with women sportscasters and side line reporters IF THEIR GOOD. However, it seems this year there's a ton of pretty, fluff, women who have no business being involved in a sports cast. The man and woman do the chitty chat thing and it's obvious it's uncomfortable for both. Your good, you fit in, be there, man or woman. Otherwise your making a mockery of the whatever sport your covering.

October 19 2010 at 12:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tigersfan

I think this is a terrible idea!! It's basically telling women that
mens' sports are to good for them. I'm a girl and i love sports. I
know just as much about football and baseball as the next guy does. So
if ESPN wants to do this then do it. I'm just saying that I will never
watch it.

October 19 2010 at 11:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tigersfan

I think this is a terrible idea!! It's basically telling women that men's sports are to good for them. I'm a girl and i love sports. I know just as much about football and baseball as the next guy does. So if ESPN wants to do this then do it. I'm just saying that I will never watch it.

October 19 2010 at 11:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kay

Whose idea was this? I'm a 62YO woman who does watch ESPN. I also watch MLB network. If espnW is aimed at the 18-34 demographic, what does that say about women my age? That we don't watch sports? That we don't exist?

I probably won't bother with espnW. I don't require a separate women-only "niche" for my sports interests.

October 19 2010 at 11:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gerry

I think it's a great idea. Give them their own channel and let women's sports and sportcasters rise or fall on their own merit -- and ratings. But please, PLEASE don't force them into broadcast roles that are gratuitous and silly. The sideline bimbos HAVE to go. The beauty queen co-anchors are ludicrous. Sure, there are some outstanding women sports figures (Linda Cohn comes to mind), but some of the others...just perfect for ESPNw!!!

October 19 2010 at 11:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bj

it's about time . now espn can take all the politically correct , affirmitive action token bimbos off the real sports telecasts and give them their own channel for their inane , cue-carded , powder puff questiions and observations. espn can now also move all those girls' sports in whose only interest comes from alumni , parents , and girlfriends . good riddance to the erin andrews of the world .

October 19 2010 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bj's comment
Beth

Let me guess, "Cuthbert:" You still live in your mother's basement, and your claim to fame is having the high score on trivia at your local Buffalo Wild Wings. Sound familiar, LOSER?

October 19 2010 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
frank

The only way this works is if they show LOTS of womens beach volley ball. That is the only girls sport worth watching.

October 19 2010 at 10:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
michelle

Seriously? Who did they poll? As a female who works at a sports magazine, I personally can't take any more of the "storytelling" reports. Give me the facts and the scores/standings. I'm tired of the whinny gosip and "tittie sack" stories from both female and male athletes. Yes guys..sorry to bust your ego bubbles but y'all whine and complain as much as any woman ever has. Just play your damn sport, suck it up when your hurt or screw up..EVERYONE! ESPN get a clue and just quit while your ahead. Being politically correct doesn't mean its right.

October 19 2010 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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