Visible Example of Power in Sport

GoodellIf you want to see an obvious example of how gender, class, race, and power intersect in sport.…look no further than Sports Illustrated’s (SI.com) updated list (and accompanying pics) of the 50 most powerful people in sport. 

This set of “list” images serve reinforce stereotypes about gender and power that privilege white men and marginalize men of color, while simultaneously highlighting that women are primarily sexual objects (i.e. arm candy), or incompetent and weak leaders because they are not pictured alone. It wasn’t until #35 a male of color appeared, and #41 featured the first women in a position of power.

Of the 3 women featured in the list of 50, none of them were portrayed alone, in contrast to the men who were primarily featured as the sole and dominant image in their photos. #41 on the list featured Alison Lewis and Sharon Byers of Coca-Cola who were featured together, but their titles were not listed. #46 featured Cindy Davis, NIKE Golf President alongside client Rory McIlroy. When women in sport are portrayed in tandem, it communicates she may not be competent enough to stand on her own, and is therefore less competent than male leaders.

Images are powerful mechanisms by which cultural values and beliefs are transmitted, and therefore should not be consumed uncritically.

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