(Women’s) ESPN Basketball Bracket Shows

It’s time for March Madness! I love this time of year! I just watched the ESPN selection and the ESPN-U follow up show for the women. Here is the bracket in case you want to download it. I have some cheers and jeers.


  • I was excited the online ESPN bracket didn’t have the qualifying “Women’s” in front of  NCAA Tournament Bracket 2010.
  • ESPN did a great feature on Baylor’s Brittney Griner, that focused primarily on her SKILLS, numerous ways she can dunk, and how her ability and talent are setting a new standards of excellence for women’s basketball.
  • I loved the fact there were four very qualified women–Doris Burke, Rebecca Lobo, Kara Lawson, and Carolyn Peck--hosting the shows, along with Trey Wingo.


  • The .pdf version of the ESPN bracket however, was labeled as the “Women’s”. I will bet my 2010-11 pay cut that when the men’s bracket is complete, there will be no “Men’s” label on any bracket. Why? Because the men’s bracket is the real bracket, and the women’s bracket must be defined and qualified as the lesser bracket by labeling it the “women’s”. This is a common pattern of marginalizing women’s sports documented over time by sport media scholars. Another example is the NBA and WNBA.
  • The presence of the female sport commentators was undermined both at the very beginning and end of the ESPN-U show by the following comments:

a. At the opening of the follow-up show on ESPN U, after Trey Wingo (seated in the middle, with 2 women on each side) introduced each of his four co-hosts, Carolyn Peck made a comment that the ensemble was like Charlie’s Angels. To that end Wingo asked if that made him “Charlie”, and the banter went on for another 20 seconds with the women confirming that his wan indeed Charlie and they were the Angels.

b. At the end of the follow-up show on ESPN U, as Trey Wingo was signing off and repeated all the names of his female co-hosts, his very last comment was “Look at Doris’ shoes, she went shopping!” and then the camera cut out.

Why is this problematic? Because both comments undermine the credibility of highly qualified and experienced female sport media journalists by focusing on highly feminine roles and symbols of femininity.  Given these four women are clear statistical minorities in their field, they are under a constant barrage of scrutiny their male colleagues do not have to endure. They also have to look feminine enough so they do not feed the flame of enduring homophobia in women’s basketball.

Stay tuned for more March Madness!

The uncertain, vulnerable, scandal-prone land of [women’s] sports??

To cap off a week of weird sport media, I’ll end the week with this piece on ESPN.com that discusses the “state of uncertainty for women’s sports.”

The author documents the “state” of women’s sport, which in turn will influence the opinion of some, and nudge others to believe that the “historic meltdown of women’s sports” is imminent.

The problem is the journalist does not document similar “uncertainties” in mens’ sport such as lack of parity in leagues, changes in personnel, controversies, retirements, changes in sponsorship and endorsements, “bad” seasons, teams that don’t make money, mismanagement, lack of ‘star’ power, and financial difficulties driven by a bad economy which are hurting ALL leagues and male and female athletes alike! The sensationalist and inflammatory language that is used also helps inflame the sensibilities of those who already think women’s sports are unwatchable and not consumable, and potentially drive away fence-sitters. Who wants to attend or watch something that is about to crumble? Do you buy an plane ticket of an airline that just had a catastrophic crash? NO! You pick another airline.

plane-belt-extender-aHe goes on to write that, “The modern women’s pro sports movement has proven dangerously vulnerable to market conditions and scandal.” Is this to say that men’s sports are not prone to the same? I haven’t seen a similar piece on men’s sports….anyone? For everyone out there who believes in women’s sport…keep buying those tickets, the women’s sport plane is not likely to crash anymore than the mens’, both might be on a steep decent, but buckle up and ride it out.

UPDATE: In fact some argue the “WNBA: Not Just a Punch Line Anymore”