Softball: Breaking Through Barriers


Photo by Andy Wilhelm | Courtesy of UC San Diego Athletics

Madeline Lewis

Media coverage and women’s sports are two terms that often fail to go hand-in-hand. As hard as that is to admit as a collegiate female athlete myself, the statement becomes obvious from simply watching TV. The majority of sports channels are dominated by male athletics. In fact, “40 percent of all athletes are female yet they receive just 2 to 4 percent of media coverage.” The disproportionate numbers are quite frustrating to say the least, however the industry has come a long way.

After Title IX was passed in 1972, the world changed for women in sports. “Today there are more than 3,373,000 girls and women in the U.S. playing high school and college sports,” according to The New York Times. Although media coverage statistics have not risen as well, the attempt to reach gender equality has begun, slowly but surely.

With the 2018 NCAA Division I Softball Championship in the works, the media industry will look to counteract prominent stereotypes of today’s society. ESPN has agreed to cover every regional competition for a total of 112 games from Thursday to Sunday. Ranging from the No. 1 seed to the No. 64 seed, softball fanatics will be ecstatic to find each and every ESPN network showcasing the fast-paced version of America’s pastime.

The increased exposure of women’s sport is essential as a means of empowering females and combating standardized gender roles. Recognizing that female sports are accessible to the public informs users that hardworking women are just as significant in the entertainment business. It also allows women to feel acknowledged and appreciated for dedicating so much time and effort to a game which some, if not all, have been playing for almost their entire lives.

In addition, media coverage of successful female athletes gives young girls something to strive for in the future. In a society heavily constructed through digital technology, witnessing women’s sports among a variety of screens provides the youth a group of role models to look up to and hopefully fill the shoes of one day.

“Softball is probably the most visible women’s college team sport besides basketball, and it’s still growing.” With that said, the recent expansion of media coverage in that specific field is understandable. Part of the dream to play collegiate ball derives from witnessing the special attention athletes receive in being aired on TV. The excitement of playing the sport you love, with the people you love, on a big stage, is an adrenaline rush of its own, and I hope that one day, all talented female athletes have the chance to experience it while being broadcast nationwide.