PERCEPTIONS OF FEMALE ATHLETES: AN ANALYSIS OF THE IMAGES IN ESPN’S RISE MAGAZINE

Open Access
Author:
Cunningham, Laura Marie
Graduate Program:
Media Studies
Degree:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
August 03, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Marie Hardin, Thesis Advisor
  • Jeanne Hall, Thesis Advisor
  • Colleen Connolly Ahern, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • Sexual difference
  • gender
  • Rise Magazine
  • ESPN
Abstract:
A number of different publishers have made attempts to create a magazine for the female athlete (Hardin, Lynn, Walsdorf, 2005). With little success in the past, ESPN is stepping up to the plate with Rise magazine. The girl version of Rise magazine is geared towards the high school female athlete. I engaged in a textual analysis of selected editorial and advertisement images throughout Fall 2009, Fall 2010 and Winter 2010 issues of the girl version of Rise as well as the December 2009 and October 2010 issues of the guy issues of Rise magazine. I examined how female athletes were represented in relationships to sport and male athletes as well as how female athletes were represented in advertisements. I coded each image for body position, sport type, facial expression, movement, context, captions and surrounding text. Results show that ESPN has created something that showcases the female athlete in a way that does have some differences from past stereotypical representations of the female athlete. However, concern about the magazine is the powerful advertisements that starkly contrast with the happy-go-lucky appearance of the editorial images. Thus, I am concerned about the impact that the messages, what it means to be an athlete, may have on the young female readers.