Media | Women’s dreams confront reality

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New York | Despite the glowing reviews greeting the HBO documentary Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, the reality is that women’s sports still struggle to find a place in the U.S. marketplace, especially on TV, according to the Journal News of White Plains, New York. ESPN says that 70 to 75 percent of the sports TV audience is male; these numbers drop only slightly for leagues such as the Women’s National Basketball Association. Part of the explanation lies in realities of domestic life. “If you look at something as banal as Thanksgiving dinner,” says Northern Arizona University sociologist Doug Degher,women are in the kitchen, it doesn’t matter if they’re liberated or not.”

Exceptions to the anemic TV ratings for women’s sports are major events such as the Women’s World Cup or NCAA women’s basketball championships and events in which women participate with men: Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie in golf and Danica Patrick in Indy-car racing have attracted large interest. “You see how much more recognition we get when we are in a men’s arena,” said Billie Jean King, whose long-ago victory over Bobby Riggs provided a boost for women’s tennis.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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