Masculinity and Sports Media

Sports media also contributes to the construction of masculinity in contemporary society.

A study conducted by the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles reports that 98 per cent of American boys between the ages of 8 and 17 consume sports media.[1] Since professional sports are stereotypically dominated by men due to the gender stereotype that to be masculine a boy must be “strong and athletic,” sports media has the potential to transmit powerful ideas about manliness and masculinity.[2]

Studies on gender and sports media find that sports commentary reinforces perceptions of “violent masculinity.” The male dominated world of sports commentary also reinforces that women are not welcome in the male-majority world of sports. 90% of sports commentators in the United States are men; neither Monday Night Football nor college basketball’s “March Madness” tournament had any women as commentators until 2017.[3] By praising athl etes who continue to play while injured, and by using language of conflict and war to describe action, sports commentary reinforces violence and aggression as exciting and rewarding behaviour. When describing male athletes, commentators use a semantic field of war and battle, comparing them to fighters insinuating violence even in a fair game. Speaking about male athletes, commentators use verbs such as “mastermind” “beat” “win” “battle” and “dominate,” while verbs used to describe women in sports include “compete” “participate” and “strive.” [4]

This focus on personal rivalry, conflict, and fierce competition reinforces the social attitude that violence and aggression are normal and natural expressions of masculine identity. However, there are encouraging signs that sport culture is beginning to change, such as the You Can Play project, which has enlisted NHL teams, sports broadcasters and hockey stars to fight homophobia in hockey.[5] 


[1] Wilson, Wayne. Children and Sports Media. Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, 1999.

[2] Department of Women’s gender and sexuality studies (2013) This is a man’s world: Masculinity and sports culture.

[3] Serazio, M (2019) The enduring power of sexism in sports media. CNN. Retrieved from

[4] University of Cambridge (2016) Aesthetics over athletes when it comes to women in sports. Retrieved from

[5] Johnston, Chris. NHL stars back Patrick Burke’s push to eliminate homophobia in hockey. Canadian Press, March 4 2012.