Often when sportswomen are covered in the media, it is rarely for bad behaviour which begs the question why? Do women make better decisions than men or are they just not considered newsworthy enough?
By
Ann Odong

Source:
Zela
4 Apr 2016 - 2:48 PM  UPDATED 4 Apr 2016 - 2:48 PM

If ever there is an expression that says "I've messed up", it is that of retired US football star Abby Wambach in her mugshot after being arrested for drink driving.

Considered one of the best players of all time, with a Women's World Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup Player of the Year award to her name, Wambach made one of her worst decisions of all time.   

Just after 11:00pm on 2 April 2016, the two time Olympic gold medallists failed to stop for a red light.  After being stopped, Wambach failed field sobriety tests and was arrested.  The following morning the Portland Police Bureau released details of her arrest. 

Then it hit the internet. 

With 9,417 Americans killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2014, a DUI is a serious offence that could have a significant impact on the lives on victims and their loved ones. 

Thankfully for Wambach there was no additional harm associated with her arrest and the retired star was quick to apologise and take full responsibility.  As she should considering what a poor decision it was. 

Wambach's arrest and the widespread attention it has garnered - New York Times, ESPN, BBC News, Fox Sports Australia, Huffington Post, Eurosport - is actually an curious insight into progression of women's sport. 

For every one story about sportswomen behaving badly, there are dozens about sportsmen behaving badly. 

In fact, often there is a discussion about why the "bad boys" of sport garner much more coverage than the successes of women in sport. 

Often when women are covered in the media, it is rarely for bad behaviour which begs the question why?  Do sportswomen make better decisions or is it not considered newsworthy enough?

Part of it is the different priorities and opportunities available to male and female sportspeople. 

For example, a 20 year old male footballer playing in their country's top league could be earning anywhere from $45,000 to millions of dollars a year while their female counterpart would be earning anywhere from $0 to $35,000 per year. 

That sportswoman would be combining her sporting career with a part-time or full-time job to supplement their income and study for a future career. 

All of that leaves little time to find themselves in trouble.  Not that it doesn't happen but the statistics bear that it happens at a significantly lower rate. 

Part of it is that with the significantly lower media coverage of women in sport, there isn't the same name recognition associated with sportswomen.  No name recognition, little chance of outrage from the general public (and we love to be outraged), no clicks or papers sold for media companies. 

That calculation is certainly changing as evidenced by Wambach's arrest and that of her former US Soccer teammate Hope Solo and American basketballer Brittney Griner in 2015.  

Although, it would not be the recommended way of getting your name in the media.