Not only was the media coverage of the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics criticized for highlighting men’s competitions more than women’s and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics called out for commentators’ “cultural imperialism,” but recent reports show that women athletes get better sponsorship deals with the use of sex appeal and that commentators tend to praise black athletes for physical ability and white athletes for their intelligence.
Linking to such publications as Black World Today, the Australian Press Council, Afrika.net, and Common Dreams, MediaChannel hosts a variety of articles. One story questions how the media can call Cathy Freeman, aboriginal runner and said to be Australia’s one hope for an Olympic gold medal, the “spirit of Australia,” when her people, the aborigine of Australia, have suffered such war, poverty, and racism. Another piece quantifies how the mainstream media have failed to provide fair coverage of women’s sports, by interviewing more than one hundred female athletes who so often feel either patronized or dismissed. Another article points out that certain NBA star players will not be going to the Olympics with a set of Partnership for a Drug Free America public service announcements. Yet another asks whether the high salaries of athletes can be construed as “hush” money to ignore issues of race and class.
Part II of MediaChannel’s series will feature “Olympics Coverage as a Commodity.”