Welcome to my blog, aka my place to comment and reflect on things I find inspiring, amusing, irritating, or baffling. When I was young, my Stanford PhD, former physics professor, software engineer father used to help me with my math homework, and I, being mentally deficient in all things math, could never quite get it. He would constantly say to me, "Jill, it's not rocket science." (Did I mention the PhD was in Aeronautics and Astronautics??) So I thought it would be an appropriate title for this blog because everything I write about is, indeed, not rocket science.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Why Coverage of the Little League World Series Makes Me Crazy

Of course I love that the Little League World Series exists and is such a great experience for kids. In fact, Petaluma won third place this year, which is amazing. It's not the event itself that makes me crazy, but the fact that it's covered extensively on TV every year, when women's sports remains relegated to the back burner and as fodder for comedians (WNBA anyone?). During the Olympics, the U.S. women dominated and Americans were riveted. We ate it all up: soccer, volleyball, swimming, gymnastics, etc. But as San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy reminded us in his article, the country's love affair with women's sports ended the day after the Closing Ceremonies. 

Here's my gripe: Alex Morgan and Hope Solo and Abby Wambach and dozens of other amazing athletes have no national audience post-Olympics (in fact, most of them don't even have a league in which to play). But 12 year-old boys on Little League teams have a massive audience and gain massive exposure. It makes me crazy. 

I think it's a self-fulfilling prophecy: ESPN and other networks don't show women's sports because no one watches them. But guess what? No one watches them because they don't show them or talk about them. The occasional time they're on TV, no one cares because we're not invested in the team. We don't know anything about the players, the league, the coach, anything. When you know someone's story, you become invested and want to watch them play. But we typically don't know anything about female athletes...until the Olympics comes around.

I am definitely not an expert on women's sports, and there's probably a lot of stuff going on that I don't know about. But I do have a husband who watches ESPN like it's Jesus preaching the gospel, and I never hear a single mention of women's sports. So when August comes around and he is watching the Little League World Series, I inevitably go ballistic and begin my yearly rant. 

(I should note that my husband is a women's soccer coach and is atypically interested in women's sports, which is fantastic. But I know he's unlike most men in that regard.)


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