Students look for proportional representation for female sports

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Students look for proportional representation for female sports

Girls cross country celebrates after winning Conference Championships on Oct. 28.

Girls cross country celebrates after winning Conference Championships on Oct. 28.

Jacqueline Cantwell

Girls cross country celebrates after winning Conference Championships on Oct. 28.

Jacqueline Cantwell

Jacqueline Cantwell

Girls cross country celebrates after winning Conference Championships on Oct. 28.

Leah Taylor and Kevin Taylor

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Both female and male varsity sports play integral roles in Schreiber athletics. Due to the numerous championships, the teams at Schreiber are an essential part of our school spirit and bring a sense of unity to the community.  The representation given to these sports, however, are unequally distributed between males and females.

Under Title IX, public schools are legally required to provide equal opportunities to male and female athletes.  Nonetheless, disparities exist still in gender representation in high school athletics. 

In New York, 19.1 percent of schools see large gender equity gaps in varsity teams.  Athletic participation opportunities for boys greatly outweigh those that are offered to girls; 53 athletic opportunities are offered for every 100 boys in America, while only 41 are offered for every 100 girls.

“I believe that it’s incredibly important that our hard working female athletes feel validated in their efforts the same way that the male athletes do,” said junior Caroline Pangbourne.  “I know I’m not the first person to speak to this, but I think providing things like playoff buses to female sports teams for spectators would help a great deal; considering they’ve been provided for male sports teams in the past, I don’t see why things of this nature couldn’t be arranged for female teams.”

At Schreiber, many students feel female sports are not given equal representation in the schools’ media.  While we cannot ignore the hard work that goes into maintaining the social media accounts that provide this information, we also cannot ignore the fact that the majority of reporters are males. 

So, the female perspectives on sports are fleeting. Though male broadcasters may make efforts in including results of female teams, they are often not equal.

Recent radio reports covering sports spend between 16 and 18 minutes on boys sports, allowing 12 to 15 minutes for girls sports. Therefore, while an average of 2.4 to 2.8 minutes were spent per girl sport each broadcast, each boys’ team had almost double the time, with 4 to 4.5 minutes spent per sport.

“We need to encourage more women to participate in athletics to create more self-confident women and break the gender barrier, but the only way to do that is in more representation of female sports,” said a senior who wishes to remain anonymous.  “Because sports are stereotypically masculine activities, male sports, generally associated with violence and action, are the ones most frequently covered (by male newscasters which seem to make up the majority), whereas female sports that may be equally as interesting and impressive tend to get cast aside.”

The school is on the path toward increasing female representation in athletics. Many students follow the male student-run sports Instagram, @portvikings. The page recently reorganized itself, changed the pictures and sports coverage. Before, it exclusively covered football and occasionally other male sports. Now, it covers a variety of sports, male and female alike.

“We changed it because we felt that posting weekly photos of every team would give a good recap of that week in Schreiber sports. Every team would get a spotlight and the Schreiber community could have access to the reports all in one easy place, being able to like, comment, and share with others,” said senior Adam Jackman, a main contributor to the Instagram account.

However, the account still represents male sports more than female sports.  Although there are five female sports and four male sports during this fall season, posts about male teams take up over 50 percent of the accounts 35 posts.  This breaks down to 4.75 posts per male team, leaving a solemn 3.2 posts per female team, including the extremely successful girls tennis and girls field hockey teams.

“The original mindset was that the account was going to cover the football team in depth, and all the other sports briefly. However, the account got so popular that we decided to go into detail for every team,” said senior Louis Blakeman. “I think that it is very important that all sports are covered equally because they all have an equal amount of significance. We felt that people were unaware of some of the events that were occurring in our high school’s sports.”

As the football team gained more coverage, many students began to question the amount of coverage for other sports. Football was able to create more representation through their #VikingsRising movement. 

Though Schreiber sports teams often initiate coverage of their own on social media in accounts like @portdistance and @portwashingtonxctf and hashtags, such as #tettes, an issue arose when the main modes of sports reporting shifted their focus to #VikingsRising instead of other sports.

“I think that the young women of Schreiber’s sports do get a decent amount of coverage, however not nearly as much as the male sports teams. I remember my sophomore year of cross country, everyone was working incredibly hard to earn team and individual titles and our work was still taking the backseat to the football team who had also just won a championship title,” said Pangborne.  “I’m sure the girls on the tennis team felt similarly since they won the Long Island Team Championships Title around the same time football had won their title. I remember seeing their plaque displayed next to the football trophy and the football trophy having a piece of paper taped to it saying that they won the championship. There was nothing similar for the tennis team.”

Although Schreiber sports’ media has begun to take steps towards equality of representation between female and male sports, the time spent covering male teams compared to female teams is still somewhat lopsided.  Clubs related to the coverage of school sports must continue to push for equality and breaking the gender barrier.

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