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‘Getting Noticed, Respected, and Supported’: Mediated (In)Visibilities of Women's American Football in the United States

The Professionalisation of Women’s Sport

ISBN: 978-1-80043-197-3, eISBN: 978-1-80043-196-6

Publication date: 20 September 2021

Abstract

On 2 February 2020, 99.9 million viewers learnt about the Women's Football Alliance (WFA), the largest women's American football league in the United States, when former player Katie Sowers became the first woman to coach in the Super Bowl. In the same month, the WFA announced several corporate partnerships and a new television deal with statements that connected the support for women's American football to advancing gender equity.

This chapter examines the professionalisation of women's American football in the United States through the lens of mediated visibilities. We use the term mediated visibilities, rather than media coverage, to move beyond how journalists are writing about sport (or ‘covering’ sport) and account for the complex ways in which content about women's sport circulates across producers and platforms in the digital media environment. In particular, our analysis examines the opportunities and limitations of digital media in the process of (semi-)professionalisation of women's American football.

The WFA joined the broader ‘momentum’ of women's sport in the United States as both the league's social media platforms and the sponsors aligned their messages with cultural narratives around women's sport to invoke gender equity in promoting women's American football. Moreover, the league positioned the strategy to enhance mediated visibility the sport as an integral step in the process of (semi-)professionalisation. However, the role of the WFA's digital media platforms alone appears to be limited without substantial structural change.

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Citation

Antunovic, D., Taylor, K., Watt, M. and Linden, A.D. (2021), "‘Getting Noticed, Respected, and Supported’: Mediated (In)Visibilities of Women's American Football in the United States", Bowes, A. and Culvin, A. (Ed.) The Professionalisation of Women’s Sport (Emerald Studies in Sport and Gender), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 123-139. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-80043-196-620211008

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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