The media coverage of female athletes with disability. Analysis of the daily press of four European countries during the 2000 Sidney Paralympic Games
Authors: de Léséleuc, E., Pappous, A. and Marcellini, A.
Journal: European Journal for Sport and Society
Data concerning mediatization of the female athletes are showing that on the one hand, women are less represented than men and, on the other hand, their image is frequently sexualized. In addition, contrary to men, media often focuses on their social roles as mother, wife, etc, i.e. female athletes are frequently portrayed in scenes non related with the sports dimensions. It is also known that media treatment of disabled athletes is quite different from those of others athletes. But, which are the peculiarities concerning media treatment of female athletes with disabilities? In the present study a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the Paralympic Games in Sydney 2000 has taken place, including 108 articles from German, English, Spanish, and French newspapers. Our data shows that, contrary to what was expected, women with disabilities are not specially underrepresented compared to men; quantitatively there is no presence of a specific stigmatization. But a qualitative analysis of texts and photos shows that a stigmatization process is taking place through a more insidious form: the female Paralympic athletes are largely “infantilized” and “trivialized” (Jones et al., 1999) in the newspapers which cover the Paralympic Games.