James Hulbert

Dr. Tilton


Field Investigation


The women’s March Madness Tournament concluded on Sunday night when Baylor defeated Notre Dame 82-81 in a back and forth contest. It was exciting basketball all game long as it was a very high-scoring game. When it came down to it, the Notre Dame player could not make a free throw to force overtime and Baylor hung on to win.

There is a direct correlation to this game and our course. Keywords like intersectionality, power, and culture were fresh in my mind while watching this game. Intersectionality was present in this game because as a society, we have categorized women’s sports as less exciting and in turn have created discrimination towards female athletes. This issue was present in the TV audience and the money ESPN and CBS spent to advertise this game. While roughly three million people watched the women’s championship, a whopping 100 million viewers tuned into the Men’s game from over 180 countries[1]. Knowing this, companies spend a lot less money on advertising for the event and it creates a constant cycle of low viewership. For example, Capital One, who is the NCAA’s largest sponsor, spends over $100 million on the men’s events because it has consistently generated over $1 billion in revenue, but do not run advertisements during the women’s games.

This is also a reflection of the power that the media has to influence viewer tendencies. While everyone knew that the men played on Monday night, few people knew about the women’s game on Sunday, let alone who actually won the game. ESPN always plays highlights after the women’s events, but spends little time hyping up the event like they do with the men’s games. In fact, ESPN did not broadcast any women’s tournament coverage until 2003.[2]

The last keyword this problem reminds me of is culture. This is the culture we have in America in the sports world. People rather watch men’s sports because of the flashy plays like alley oops in basketball, the hard tackling in football, and major league baseball because there in no professional softball league. I think that the media creates this culture. When we see Top 10 plays on SportsCenter, there are only highlights of men. While this has been an ongoing problem for decades, I do see progress. While the viewership for NCAA women’s basketball is still just a slight fraction to that of NCAA men’s, we are seeing growth in the amount of people watching. I do not see the women catching up to the men in terms of ratings any time soon, but the fact that more people are starting to watch will get them more media coverage and help turn this problem around.

[1] Women’s Final Four Ratings Hub, Paulsen, April 9, 2019.


[2] Mad (at) Men’s March Madness, Cheryl Cooky, March 21, 2014.