Are we still being ‘benched’?

At an early age, I was introduced to sports.

Being an Italian, my family were heavily invested in the soccer. My dad loved to watch the mighty Sea Eagles Play, the F1 and of course our Sydney Swans. But sport for me was a treat.

My dad decided to involve me in tennis and since then I haven’t looked back. I picked up my first racquet at the age of three, and by the time I was 16-years-old I obtained my very first Australian ranking. It was a major achievement, to say the least, my experience being an athlete has been nothing short than what you would expect.

Coaching 5 days a week, fitness 7 days, strict diet and the determination to overcome any barriers that stood in my way.

When I reached year eleven in high school, I was given the ultimatum. To pursue my tennis career, and hopefully, one day known as an international athlete. Or, to continue on with my schooling and eventually invest myself into a university degree.

With the pressure of school and my family at the time, I made what I thought to be the mature decision to continue with school.

Since then I have never looked back.

My passion and love for sports, mixed with my love to write has lead me to pursue the degree of Communications/Media and Journalism. Where my future ambition (hopefully) are going to lie in the field of Sports Journalism.

Although, as some might say ‘I have chosen the unattainable’.

Sports journalism has been described as being “home to one of the most intense and most historically enduring gender divisions in journalism, in terms of who is permitted to cover which sports as journalists, how athletes are covered, as well as in terms of genders are served as audiences” (Chambers, Steiner and Fleming, 2004).

Pamela Creedon describes sports as an expression of “the sociocultural systems in which it occurs; and sports mirror the rituals and values of the societies in which they are developed” (Creedon, 2000). Similarly, Creedon defines sex as a “culturally constructed biological characteristic and gender as an ongoing cultural process that constructs differences between women and men” (Creedon, 2000).

Gender is a sociocultural value that is reflected in sports culture – notable in the distinctions between the role of men and women in sports. The 21st century has sports journalism change, and it still continues to be a shifting landscape to become more gender inclusive.

There have been numerous occasions where women have been driven to the forefront of sports journalism. This can be seen through Fox Sport and their incorporation of female reporters in Australia’s first dedicated rugby league channel, Fox League. Following this, the franchise has introduced ‘League Life’, a panel show where female journalists discuss rugby related issues on Wednesday nights.

The NRL is male dominated, in terms of players, fans and reporters. Introducing women into broadcasting, sideline reporting and commentating shows a turning point in the industry’s attitudes. A conglomerate such Fox Sports have a profound impact and influence on sports media in Australia, and more broadly, which can help to pave the way for increased opportunities for women in the industry.

However, we see these things happening, but what is going on in the background?

Sports journalism is a ‘macho’ arena, for women stepping into the spotlight often they are put to the forefront of discrimination and harassment.

As my level of tennis began to increase, my training became harder and integrated with males. Here is where I began to face some harassment, being told I was incapable, having balls pelted at me and at times having to have my coach or dad come to stop the ‘drill’ was only snippets of the uncomfortable situations I was placed in.

Now I regularly like to participate in online sports forums and attend games. But what I have noticed that hasn’t changed is the unwanted stigma that is attached when women want to involve themselves in the sporting industry. “It’s a male domain, are you sure you know what you’re talking about”.

Sports journalism is an industry that is far from gender neutrality. It is a catalyst for gendered-discrimination, despite its endeavours to become more gender inclusive.

Therefore, I want to explore the statistics behind the changing landscape of sports journalism to analyse the progression of women in the industry. I want to investigate the brunt of harassment female journalists face and determine whether women and their reporting are still being ‘benched’ in the industry.

Female Sports Reporters and Harassment

To watch the full #MoreThanMean video:

 

Sources:

Step right up Folks!

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Introducing Mickey, the latest addition to my boyfriends family. Mickey is a 3.5-month-old Eclectus parrot, with a love for food and a passion for chirping at early hours of the morning.

Mickey has now turned into the third son of the household, when mumma goes shopping she constantly repeats “gotta get this for my baby boy, only the fresh and best fruits and seeds.” When I asked which son she was talking about, she looked at me puzzled and replied, “Mickey.”

Isn’t it odd that we tend to interact with animals as if they are humans? Feeding them ‘human food’, speaking them and expecting them to respond, teaching them to talk and sit, and in extreme cases dress them up in little outfits, this can be referred to as anthropomorphism. Anthropomorphism is “ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things.” “Neuroscience research has shown that similar brain regions are involved when we think about the behavior of both humans and of nonhuman entities, suggesting that anthropomorphism may be using similar processes as those used for thinking about other people.”

However, it is to be considered that through anthropomorphism there are implications that can arise. Such implications can be seen through thinking an animal, for instance, has similar moral and ‘caring’ consideration like humans, while also being held accountable for their actions – they became deserving of an award or punishment.

Round-up, Round-up. cmiwqh8vaaaox15-147188.jpg

Bright lights, lavish costumes, acrobats and the cutest animals jumping through rings of fire and submitting to their ring leader. All sounds like a show worth watching.

However,  the circus is the main domain for animal cruelty. Trainers use animal cruelty methods to train animals, which are kept in cramped and confined spaces especially when travelling from town to town.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known as PETA is the largest animal rights organisation in the world. PETA breaks down circuses into three rings of abuse:

A Life Far Removed From Home

The nature of the circus is travelling from city to city, therefore supplying animals with an inadequate supply of the main supplies such as water, food and veterinary care. Naturally circus animals have a nature of constant activity, however living a life in the circus forces them to be stored in confined areas and are permitted to leave their cages only when performing. For example, elephants are kept in “leg shackles that prevent them from taking more than one step in any direction. The minimum requirements of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA)are routinely ignored.” When circuses are not in motion, animals are subjected to travelling in barn stalls or trucks for long periods of times, this often causes physical and psychological effects on the animals. These effects can be identified through unnatural forms of behaviours  elephant-topper.jpgsuch as head-bobbing, pacing and swaying.

Beaten Into Submission

Physical punishment is considered to be a “standard training method”, where animals are beaten, shocked etc. constantly to make them perform. However, in some cases, the animals may be drugged making them
manageable“, also surgically remove the teeth and claws of others.

Animals Rebel

Often as a result of stress, pressure and abuse, the animals can snap in retaliation. An example of this is Flora the elephant, who had been previously forced to perform in a circus and when transferred to Miami Zoo attacked a zookeeper.

Most recently, a case of animal cruelty and anthropomorphic abuse has been shut down. May of 2016 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced the final retirement of their herd of elephants at Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida. It is said that the retirement marked “the end of an era for the elephants”. This comes as a result of animal rights groups critiquing and suing the company for their treatment of animals. ringlingbrosandbarnum_bailey.jpg

As of January of this year, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus formally announced their decision to remove elephants from their shows has led to the closure of the 146-year-old company. This has come about from the pressure of animal rights group which has instantly affected their ticket sales.

The retirement of the company comes from the backlash of animal activist, former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus employee Archele Hundley spoke to PETA about witnessing elephant abuse. “I saw handlers deliver a beating … for 30 minutes. She was covered with bloody wounds. I’ll never forget her agonizing screams,” says Hundley. “Please, never take your children to a Ringling Bros. circus.”

Anthropomorphism has desensitised its audiences. It is common that we are blinded by their apparent abilities to act on command and depict human-like responses. We must consider the implications behind their ‘talents’. We aren’t whipped each time we refuse a command, so why should they be?

Sources:

There is more than meets the eye.

It’s the little-malnourished girl that stares at you, it’s the little boy washed up on the shore. And it’s the mother and father holding their dying baby.

This is what we are confronted with when charities and media want to expose and prompt audiences, of the poverty around the globe.

The following images can be identified through the term ‘poverty porn‘. Poverty porn is “known as development porn or even famine porn, is any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause.” It is a strategy that causes us to think “What can I do to help”? We are left feeling conflicted whether to post and share these devastating image with the world or to donate “hey any amount will help”. However, it is a term used to exploit poverty.

It is these organisations that expose the worst of poverty, they highlight the misery and suffering. Promoting the ‘if’ and ‘when’, what happens if you do donate and what happens if you do not. Poverty porn maintains this idea that, third world countries are filled with misery and suffering.

However in the video above, it shows that some of these kids who live in the worst possible conditions are happy, they create positive outcomes for themselves. It is videos like these that expose an alternative perspective on poverty, while poverty is faced with suffering and heartache. There are slums throughout the world that aim to change their way of lives, they want their minority to progress.

In this TEDx talk, Erica Hangan is the co-founder of ‘Map Kibera’, an organisation that aims to empower these communities and put them on the map through open data, open mapping, citizen media and participatory processes. In the following video, Erica expresses how so many slums in huge cities are not identified on their maps, their aim using locals is to put the slum of Kibera on the map. And through this exploration, it is astounding to see a number of facilities that are crammed into this small place, and the economy these people have built for themselves.

 

In 2015 twitter users coined the hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShows, it was platform young African’s were able to use to fightback against their ‘poverty stricken identity’. Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 12.51.50 PM.pngPhotos were posted using the hashtag of the beautiful landscapes, jobs, universities etc. attracting over 42,000 tweets. Each and every tweet was a pushed to break the African stereotype, another twitter user posted a photo collage of four photos. Each different from the other to emphasise that not all of Africa is the same, making the following statement “Africa is not a country, Africa is a continent made up of 56 countries. Africans do not all look alike. Africa is not defined by poverty. I don’t speak “African” because African is not a
language
“.

The objectification and exploitation of poverty through media is under scrutiny and empowers the wrong people. Such stereotypes portray societies in a negative way where these reputations can hold. An example of this is SBS documentary ‘Struggle Street‘, a  documentary depicting stereotypes of lower socio-economic suffering. 5dc837b8-36d5-4ccb-a23f-6c523a1e1ec9.jpeg

The series was designed to show the struggles and suffering of poverty in the western area of Mt Druitt, aiming to expose the ‘raw reality’ of a south-west suburb. SBS’s Marshall Heald said that “Struggle Street will seek to raise awareness and deepen our understanding of those of us in the community facing social and economic hardship through an honest reflection of what it’s like to be doing it tough in Australia today.” However the show enhanced the negative stereotype Mt Druitt had received, Threadgold argues that the show is “denigrating The undeserving poor, scapegoating and even pathologising them as figures of loathing, while completely ignoring the harsh structural economic realities that create such poverty in the first place.

Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali was “appalled” after seeing the first episode. “What I saw wasn’t a documentary, it was simply publicly-funded poverty porn“, after meeting with SBS management he expressed “With all the funding cuts in the local area with domestic violence and … the whole heap of great education facilities that are losing funding, to spend $1 million on this crap, it shouldn’t happen”.

This stereotype, we’re over it, and it shouldn’t happen and SBS has just taken the worst aspects of it and put it into a so-called documentary“.

Poverty porn exploits degrades and stereotypes a minority based on how the media gather their understanding and frame their portrayal of a minority. Who are we trying to empower, us or them?

Sources:

 

Without a selfie did it even happen?

First and foremost I am a self-proclaimed selfie taker, but hey when your outfit is on fleek who can resist? When I explained this weeks topic to both my friends and family I received an identical response, “Mim this is right down your alley”. Thanks, guysScreen Shot 2017-03-12 at 7.04.45 PM.png

The selfie is defined as being “a photographic object that initiates the transmission of human feeling in the form of a relationship (between photographer and photographed) … [It] is also a practice -a gesture that can send … (different messages to different individuals)“. It is predicted the average millennials 25,700 selfies in their lifetime, and it is predicted that on average 93 million selfies are taken each day worldwide. WOW.

The way selfies have been taken has changed dramatically over time. First beginning with self-painted portraits such as the famous Vincent Van Gogh, to now with the revolutionary smartphone.

As mobile technology has rapidly advanced, the action and quality of selfies have gotten easier and clearer. Renown Vampire Diaries queen Nina Dobrev demonstrates how the task of taking selfies has evolved, as new editions of phones have been introduced into society.

 

While technology has largely influenced the action of taking a selfie. The personal reasoning is another variable factor, often we take selfies to express or empower, show followers various aspects or experiences of life and lastly publicity. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are the prime selfie domain, currently, there are 292,485,07 postsscientists-have-announced-a-new-unit-to-accurately-measure-narcissism-the-selfie-per-hour.jpg on Instagram using the #selfie. How can you even prove that you went to the gym without
a ‘gelfie’ (gym selfie)?

Selfies have become a social epidemic.

Selfies are a way to connect yourself to your followers, they are intimate and can often highlight personal moral, values and emotion this can be described as experiencing “togetherness“, and the social and cultural context of the person. Lasen argues “that social media platforms are stages where users negotiate intimacy in public through self- disclosure “in a choreographic way”, where comments are useful to check other people’s reactions and affections“. Some can argue that the constant posting of selfies highlight narcissistic tendencies, and constant selfie takers are considered to be narcissists.

Another negative that arises from selfie taking, is the moral panic. Initially, moral panic stems from the mass media and has gradually been dived amongst the various platforms of social media. It is the idea that our followers cast a ‘make or break’ judgement on the selfies we post, the questions they may raise and what they perceive from our posts. The term ‘Selfiegate’ was coined by Bayum and Miltner, “it raised questions about “who takes selfies and under what circumstances“, an example would be Selfie Trend Put Into Perspective. Katrin Tiidenberg narrows down moral panic in two reasons:

However this is not always the case, selfies can be used and considered to be platforms for expression and empowerment. Various celebrities, minorities and everyday people have adopted this to create social media accounts that aim to help and inspire their followers.

In an interview with the ABC Australian model Steph Smith, explains that since gaining a

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 10.10.43 AM.pngfollowing on Instagram, followers are wanting to know more about her efforts in the area of health and wellbeing. Steph’s health and wellbeing blog is designed to promote a healthy way of living and highlights that this such lifestyle is not only lived by the ‘rich and famous’, Steph promotes various products and companies that she believes can have a profound impact in benefitting your overall wellbeing.

Selfies and their meaning and interpretation will forever be a topic of discussion. The act of taking a selfie, based on frequency and individual personality is once again narrowed down to both scientific findings and personal opinion. It is evident that there are many negatives regarding the concept of selfie taking, but there are many positives that have allowed individual create careers, inspire and given a path to expression and empowerment.

But hey, you do you!

Sources:

  • Senft, Theresa, and Nancy Baym. “Selfies Introduction ~ What Does The Selfie Say? Investigating A Global Phenomenon”. Ijoc.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.
  • Miguel, Cristina. “Visual Intimacy On Social Media: From Selfies To The Co-Construction Of Intimacies Through Shared Pictures”. Social Media + Society 2.2 (2016): 205630511664170. Web.
  • Bonn, Scott. “Moral Panic: Who Benefits From Public Fear?”. Psychology Today. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.
  • Hines, Nickolaus. “You Won’t Believe How Many People Have Died Taking Selfies Since 2014”. All That Is Interesting. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.
  • “Katrin Tiidenberg: Selfies – Narcissism Or A Way Of Self Expression? / Tallinn University”. Tlu.ee. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.
  • Cowan, Jane. “Millennials Of Melbourne: Steph Smith On Insta-Fame And Buying A House At 23”. ABC News. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.

 

The Final Whistle

“Attention involves the allocation of cognitive resources to deal with multiple inputs at once. Switching, screening, analysing and risk management are all part of normal cognitive processes” (Maloney, 2016). 

Space, place, audience and media are four components that individually affect your viewing experience. Adopting the participant ethnography research method, it allowed me to examine how these component effect others and also myself. This has been proven through my observations while watching the Premier League at a friends house, in my bedroom and at The Star.

Approaching the assessment, my preconceived ideas were that audiences and media would have the greatest impact while viewing the game. However, space and place played a large role in the way each individual enjoyed and focused on the game.

My bedroom

  • My attention span was low and media activity was high and constant.
  • Being alone I was not able to share the excitement of Arsenal scoring with anyone else
  • Watching the game in the comfort of my bed caused me to relax and fall asleep throughout the game unintentionally

My boyfriend’s house

  • Being surrounded by friends made the game enjoyable
  • Media use was average, as during halftime and pauses in the game we would all log onto social media and communicate with others regarding the game
  • ‘Soccer watching etiquette’ allowed each viewer to have a comfortable view of the game and all were mediated by these un-proclaimed rules

The Star – 24/7 Sports bar

  • Attention spans carried as a result of external components and surroundings e.g. alcohol and the crowds of people walking around the casino
  • Atmosphere enhanced the viewing experience, being surrounded by hundreds of strangers who share the same passion for the sport as you creates a welcoming community bond
  • As a result of the interactions with those around us, our media use was roughly 15% of the night
  • However, as a result of a ‘drunk’ spectator, it affected our viewing as a result of insults being taken a bit too far

It is evident how viewing the Premier League in three diverse settings can alter the enjoyment and engagement of the viewer. Furthermore, from partaking in this assessment it has allowed me to identify a range of avenues for exploration for future research. Examples of these would be:

  • How alcohol affects sports fans
  • How the Premier League can incorporate these online sports communities into their halftime commentary and interact with there fan baseArsenal-16-17-kit (1).jpg

Only to name a few. I think observing and researching these areas and sports fan habits are valuable for Premier League stakeholders, it will allow them to identify areas that fans around the world suggest to improve. Potentially changing and revamping the viewing experience all around the world, lessening the need or desire to be at Emirates rather enjoying the game from the comfort of the local pub or home couch.

While the project has come to an end, it definitely has taught me where and who to watch the games with.

Till next time, Up The Gunners!

References:

  • Maloney, S. (2016). Attention, Presence, Place.