Just last week, Serena Williamsâ€™ confrontation with umpire Carlos Ramos during the U.S. Open marked a resurgence of the decades-old debate surrounding sexism in sports.
Williamsâ€™ loss to 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, brought on through a coaching violation, created a social media uproar that was immediately divisive.
Many were quick to criticize Williamsâ€™ behavior towards the umpire, where she exclaimed comments such as:Â â€œYou will never ever, ever be in another final. You are a liar.â€
Others quickly took to Williams’ side, claiming that she received penalization on an unfair call and that her reactions were less extreme than many male tennis players have displayed in the past.
Williamsâ€™ argument that she received unfair treatment due to her gender quickly became the center of the debate, as she asserted, â€œTo lose a game for saying that, itâ€™s not fair. How many other men do things? Thereâ€™s a lot of men out here who have said a lot of things. Itâ€™s because I am a woman, and thatâ€™s not right.â€
Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, this debate on sexism in sports is far from new. A recent panel of experts at Harvard discussed this inequity, explaining how the large gap between menâ€™s and womenâ€™s sports continues to be perpetuated by the media.
The female sports world continues to be dominated by stories of individual superstars, such as Williams and Maria Sharapova, rather than team efforts. The popularity of womenâ€™s sports is also often restricted to Olympians, with gymnastics consistently ranked as a â€œmost-watchedâ€ sports at the games.
While womenâ€™s sports popularity continues to be limited to so-called â€œphenoms,” these athletes are consistently subject to harsh criticism based on appearance. Male athletes receive praise for â€œfreak-likeâ€ physiques, as opposed to female athletes who often receive negative commentary for being â€œtoo muscular.”
Popular sports media outlets are sources of some of the most blatant disparities between menâ€™s and womenâ€™s sports. For example, while 25 percent of ESPNâ€™s viewership is female, only 8 percent of their coverage is of womenâ€™s sports. On popular programs like SportsCenter, womenâ€™s sports receive a mere 2 percent of airtime. Much of this coverage has decreased over the past decade.
The sexist tendencies of the sports world impact even the most successful of female athletes. Although Williams’ actions during the U.S. Open are subject to multiple interpretations, unequal treatment of athletes is a prominent issue not only in the media, but in society.
Although there have been manyÂ victories in the womenâ€™s sports world, they do not get enough well-deserved attention. Recently, with Moâ€™ne Davis pitching in the Little League World Series in 2014 and the triumph of ‘The Final Five’ in womenâ€™s gymnastics in 2016, we must raise ourselves to higher standards in womenâ€™s sports in pursuit of equal opportunities for all.