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Before a female athlete is even advertised through media outlets or posted on billboards by big brands and sponsors, there is a credibility that must be established in her sport prior to being given the opportunity for a well-rounded portrayal. After she arrives in her position, the next job goes to the media and its role in publicizing her work and talent. In the most recent finding in regards to female athlete representation, the 2007 John Tucker Center research report on Media Coverage and Female Athletes reported that 40 percent of athletes are females, but only 4 percent of media attention is focused on women. In 2013, researchers from the University of Louisville examined each and every Sports Illustrated issue published in from 2000 through 2011. Their studies showed that out of the 716 covers, only 35 featured a female athlete—and only 11 women of color. Many of the covers portrayed women as models, photographed in hyper-sexual poses for sports that would be considered more “feminine.” The disproportionate coverage of women in sports is not just limiting to the athletes themselves, but also to younger girls aspiring to fill the shoes and/or compete in the same arenas. Ali Muehlbronner played softball and ice hockey at Salve Regina University and is now a coach for four different high school softball and ice hockey teams. While playing with tenacity as the only female goalie on all-boys’ ice hockey teams, she can also identify not having enough female athletes to look up to. “There’s no professional level for women’s ice hockey, there’s couple teams for popularity but nothing in comparison to men’s. So for girls, especially in ice hockey, where it is a predominately-male sport, most of their idols are Olympians.” Muehlbronner said, “It’s hard to look up and admire someone because the majority of athletes shown are men.” In the images of female athletes that endorsement ads and media do display, there is not much sexual mobility in their representation. Women are often placed in the confines of the gender binary and limited to either hyper feminine or decidedly masculine roles. These characterizations are stifling to some, and conflict with the reality of the athlete’s identity while nurturing a male gaze in order to make the woman marketable. Edwards says, “I am a girly girl, but say that I wasn’t and they try to put a whole lot of lipstick on me and deck me out for a poster for a sports place. People who know me will see that and say, ‘She’s usually not like that.’ That may portray me like that and it’s like, ‘Who is she really?’ That’s not what I want to be portrayed as. I want to be put out there as me. Not as anyone else.”

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Out of Bounds Magazine Issue 2  
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