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Female Sports Columnists-Taking Chances-Playing by the Rules: Analysis of Olympic Sports Writing
Unformatted Document Text:  9 to provide a rich description of the content of the columns. The articles were chosen during the Olympics not only to isolate the journalists’ language use to a particular situation, but also because the Olympics is one of the few times in sports coverage where female athletes have equal billing to male athletes. With a few exceptions, such as tennis and golf, men dominate the professional sports arena. By using the Olympics, sports journalists have more of an equal opportunity to write about male and female sports and athletes. This may provide sports columnists with a platform to discuss issues, such as gender, that is otherwise inessential in writing about most professional sports. The international attention of the Olympics may give journalists an opportunity to reflect upon other political issues as well. Results/Discussion Of the twenty-seven articles, eleven focused on female athletes and six on male athletes. Three of the eleven articles that highlighted women revolved around Marion Jones’s doping scandal (two additional articles on doping appeared in the sample and Jones was mentioned in those as well) and two involved women’s gymnastics. Half of the columns written about men involved Michael Phelps’s quest for nine gold medals to beat legendary swimmer Mark Spitz. The attention paid to these athletes seems appropriate as Jones is one of the most celebrated American track stars, gymnastics is one of the most popular events at the summer games, and Phelps’s goal would have been historical. Seven articles discussed the doping and judging controversies. Both columnists were critical and cynical of any athletes’ involvement with performance enhancing drugs, although in the doping articles regarding Jones, one supported Jones’s decision to remain in the games and the other opposed it for the good of the team. More interestingly, both columnists admonish Jones’s poor “taste in men,” while detailing her relationships with former husband, C.J. Hunter, and current boyfriend, Tim Montgomery, and

Authors: Macey, Deborah.
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9
to provide a rich description of the content of the columns. The articles were chosen during the
Olympics not only to isolate the journalists’ language use to a particular situation, but also
because the Olympics is one of the few times in sports coverage where female athletes have
equal billing to male athletes. With a few exceptions, such as tennis and golf, men dominate the
professional sports arena. By using the Olympics, sports journalists have more of an equal
opportunity to write about male and female sports and athletes. This may provide sports
columnists with a platform to discuss issues, such as gender, that is otherwise inessential in
writing about most professional sports. The international attention of the Olympics may give
journalists an opportunity to reflect upon other political issues as well.
Results/Discussion
Of the twenty-seven articles, eleven focused on female athletes and six on male athletes.
Three of the eleven articles that highlighted women revolved around Marion Jones’s doping
scandal (two additional articles on doping appeared in the sample and Jones was mentioned in
those as well) and two involved women’s gymnastics. Half of the columns written about men
involved Michael Phelps’s quest for nine gold medals to beat legendary swimmer Mark Spitz.
The attention paid to these athletes seems appropriate as Jones is one of the most celebrated
American track stars, gymnastics is one of the most popular events at the summer games, and
Phelps’s goal would have been historical. Seven articles discussed the doping and judging
controversies. Both columnists were critical and cynical of any athletes’ involvement with
performance enhancing drugs, although in the doping articles regarding Jones, one supported
Jones’s decision to remain in the games and the other opposed it for the good of the team. More
interestingly, both columnists admonish Jones’s poor “taste in men,” while detailing her
relationships with former husband, C.J. Hunter, and current boyfriend, Tim Montgomery, and


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