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TENNIS + SEX = INCREASED POPULARITY: USING A CONTENT ANALYSIS TO
EXAMINE THE COVERS OF TENNIS MAGAZINE FROM 2000 TO 2004
JESSICA ASHLEIGH GOLDSTEIN
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Jessica Ashleigh Goldstein
This thesis is dedicated to my parents.
They always believed in me and made all of my dreams come true.
I love them with all of my heart.
There are so many people I would like to thank for making the completion of my
master's degree possible. First, I would like to acknowledge my committee chair, Dr.
Julie Dodd. Her endless knowledge of the sports media was invaluable to my thesis
research. I have thoroughly enjoyed our long talks in her office about sports, journalism
and life in general. I couldn't have asked for a better chair to lead me to success. I would
also like to thank Professor Ted Spiker for offering his wisdom of the current magazine
industry. Professor Spiker was one of those teachers who sought to always make
learning fun. He was my favorite professor in my undergraduate career because he put
his students first, and for that I thank him. I could not have completed the data analysis
portion of my thesis without the help of Dr. Leonard Tipton. He was continually ready
and willing to help me. I would like to thank these three amazing committee members
who guided me to achieving my goals.
My parents are the two most important people in my life. There are no words to
possibly thank them enough for always believing in me and supporting me no matter
what. They instilled in me the characteristics of hard work and determination. I learn
from them more and more every day, as they are my true motivators. I want to thank my
dad for taking me to play tennis when I was just three years old. He taught me the love
and passion of the game, which I brought into this study. He is the hardest working man
I know and has sacrificed so much to make our family happy. He and my mom are the
most unselfish people, always putting others' needs before their own. I would like to
express my gratitude to my mom, who is not only the greatest woman I know, but my
friend and confidant. She is the woman I strive to become everyday of my life. I love
and cherish my parents more than anything else in the world and I thank them from the
bottom of my heart.
I would also like to acknowledge my sister Shari. She always knew that I would
excel in whatever I chose to do. I want to thank her for believing in me. I appreciate our
sisterly bond even more as the years pass. I love and respect her so very much. I would
like to thank my brother-in-law Curtis for always taking an interest in my scholastic
ability. He tested my knowledge on so many topics and I always loved our conversations
away from the rest of the family. My nephew Logan and my niece Avery are so special
to me. Even though they are too young right now to understand just how much I love
them, I want them to know that I always enjoyed taking a break from Gainesville and my
thesis to spend time with them.
I would like to show my appreciation to my Poppy and Evie. I want to thank them
for their inquisitiveness about my thesis because by explaining my research to them, I
was able to better understand it as well. I love and admire them very much.
The reason I fell in love with the study of journalism is because of my mentor Mary
Inglis. As my high school yearbook adviser, she taught me the values of time
management, perseverance, and dedication to the field that I so respected. She was not
only my teacher in the journalism field, but more importantly, she was my friend. I
appreciate her love and guidance to this day.
My world would not be complete without the support and love of my best friend
Mandy. I feel truly blessed to have someone so caring and generous in my life. We have
been friends for five years and she has seen me at my best and my worst. She has never
let me down and always encouraged me to reach for the stars. I am so proud and honored
to call her my friend.
Finally, I would like to thank my fiance Tim. He is my knight in shining armor. I
want to thank him for standing by me, holding my hand, giving me confidence and
supporting me throughout this entire process. He is my best friend and a truly amazing
person. I want him to know that I could not have made it through these past few months
without his kind and thoughtful demeanor. I love him with all of my heart and I cannot
wait to start our life together.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv
LIST OF TABLES ......................... ......... ........... ........ ..... ix
LIST OF FIGURES ............................... ... ...... ... ................. .x
ABSTRACT .............. .................. .......... .............. xi
1 IN TR OD U CTION ............................................... .. ......................... ..
The H history of Tennis ........................................ .... ..... .... .............. ..
The Tennis of Today ........... .... ....... ................ ........ .. ................. .. .4
Tennis' Sexual Appeal Increases -> Popularity Increases ........................................8
2 LITERATURE REVIEW ........................................................... ....... ........11
W om en U underrepresented in Coverage ................................................ ................ 11
Women Portrayed in More Emotional Circumstances ................... ....... .........17
Women Shown in More Posed Photographs ......................................................19
Women Publicized in Stereotypical, Sexual Manner ..............................................21
Tennis and The Recent Change in Playing Attire ............................................... 25
3 M E T H O D O L O G Y ............................................................................ ................... 28
C o n ten t A n aly sis ................................................................................................... 2 8
The Coding Instrum ent .......................................... ..................... ............... 29
Intercoder Reliability ........ ....... ...... ...... ...... ......... .. .............. 30
C overline A naly sis........... .................................................................. ........ .. .. ..3 1
SP S S A naly sis ........................................................................ 32
4 FIN D IN G S ...................... ................................. ........... ................... 33
Overall Representations of Males and Females................. ................................33
Comparison of Active versus Passive............................ ...........................34
M ales and Fem ales in Passive Posture ............................................ ............... 35
M ale and Fem ale Facial Expressions ........................................ ...... ............... 36
Fem ale Clothing D descriptions ............................................................................. 37
M ale Clothing D descriptions ................. .......................... ....... ........................ 39
Tennis and Non-Tennis Related Clothing Comparisons ........................................39
5 DISCUSSION AND FUTURE RESEARCH................................ ...............41
D iscu ssion ............................................................................................................. 4 1
Suggestions for Future R research ........................................ .......................... 44
A TENNIS MAGAZINE CODEBOOK.................................... ......................... 49
B TENNIS MAGAZINE CODE SHEET ........................................... .....................53
C TENNIS MAGAZINE EXAMPLE COVERS ................................ .....................55
L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S ............. ................................................................................65
B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E TCH ..................................................................... ..................69
LIST OF TABLES
4-1. Overall numeric representation of males and females from 2000 to 2004 on the
c o v e rs ............................................................................ 3 3
4-2. Overall percentage representation of males and females from 2000 to 2004 on the
c o v e rs ............................................................................ 3 4
4-3. Comparison of active and passive males and females on the covers ........................35
4-4. Photo subjects in passive posture photographs............................................ 36
4-5. Photo subjects' facial expressions ........................................ ......................... 37
4-6. Fem ale clothing depictions ............... .............................. ..................... ............... 38
4-7 M ale clothing depiction s ........................................ .............................................39
4-8. Comparison of tennis and non-tennis related clothing between genders ..................40
LIST OF FIGURES
C-1. This cover illustrates how the magazine uses the posed, portrait-like photograph,
instead of an active shot. It also shows the Williams' sisters in non-tennis
clothing. ( Photo by Peter Brew-Bevan/HeadPress PTY LTD)...........................57
C-2. This cover photograph shows Mary Pierce smiling, posed, in non-tennis related
clothing. ( Photo by Simko/W inston W est) ............................... ............... .58
C-3. This cover shows Martina Hingis in an action shot. It is one of the few covers
examined in this study that illustrates a woman in action, while also wearing
tennis clothing. ( Photo by Adam Pretty/AllSport)............................................59
C-4. This cover image shows Patrick Rafter's stomach exposed, while tearing off his
shirt after a match. The coverline "One Last Fling" also insinuates something of
sexual nature. ( Photo by Clive Brunskill/AllSport)................. .................60
C-5. This cover shows Jan-Michael Gambill in action, but shirtless. It illustrates that
even though he is a male in action, he is still being portrayed as a sex symbol,
instead of a tennis player. ( Photo by Chris Trotman/Duomo) ..........................61
C-6. This cover image of the Williams' sisters shows them posed, in non-tennis
related clothing, looking sexy. The coverline "Bod Squad" also implies that the
reader should be focused on the Williams' bodies, not their tennis talent. (
Photo by George Holz/Corbis Outline)..................... ............................... 62
C-7. This cover photograph of James Blake shows him posed, with arms crossed. An
arms crossed pose illustrates is a more dominant pose than the female cover
model poses shown in this appendix. ( Photo by Susan
Mullane/CAMERAWORK USA, INC)................................ ................ 63
C-8. This cover photo of Maria Sharapova shows her in tennis-related clothing, but
she is posed with her hair down and midriff exposed looking at the camera in a
provocative manner. ( Photo by Blake Little).................................................64
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication
TENNIS + SEX = INCREASED POPULARITY: USING A CONTENT ANALYSIS TO
EXAMINE THE COVERS OF TENNIS MAGAZINE FROM 2000 TO 2004
Jessica Ashleigh Goldstein
Chair: Julie E. Dodd
Major Department: Mass Communication
The main purpose of this study is to determine if the increase in popularity in tennis
is due to the rise in more sexual coverage of tennis athletes. A content analysis of the
covers of TENNIS Magazine from 2000 to 2004 was used to attempt to answer the six
research questions. Fifty covers and 80 photographs of TENNIS Magazine from 2000 to
2004 were analyzed throughout this study.
The study found:
* Males outnumbered females on the covers of TENNIS Magazine 54% to 43%. The
overall depictions of females on the cover of this particular publication are not
reflective of the number of female TENNIS subscribers.
* Women were shown in active poses fewer times than men. Men were shown as
active 79.1% of the time, while women were shown as active 70.6%.
* Women were also pictured smiling, in posed photographs more than men. Men
were shown smiling 11.6% of the time on the covers, while women were shown
smiling 35.3% of the time more than three times the percentage of men.
* Men exposed less overall skin on the covers of TENNIS Magazine, but when they
did show skin, it was revealed in the course of an action shot. Men's legs were
included in action photographs on the cover 25.6% of the time, in contrast to the
* Men were pictured in tennis-related clothing more often than women. Men were
featured wearing tennis clothes 88.4% of the time, while women were shown
wearing tennis clothes just 79.4% of the time.
The History of Tennis
Tennis has a long history, but its establishment as the modem sport can be dated to
two separate roots (Tennis Encyclopedia 2005). In 1859 Major Thomas Henry Gem, a
solicitor, and his friend Batista Pereira, a Spanish merchant, who both lived in
Birmingham, England played a game they named "pelota," after a Spanish ball game. In
1872 both men moved to Leamington Spa, and with two doctors from the Wameford
Hospital, played pelota on the lawn behind the Manor House Hotel (now residential
apartments). Pereira joined with Dr. Frederick Haynes and Dr. A. Wellesley Tomkins to
found the first lawn tennis club in the world and played the game on nearby lawns. In
1874 they formed the Leamington Tennis Club, setting out the original rules of the game.
The Courier of 23 July 1884 recorded one of the first tennis tournaments, held in the
grounds of Shrubland Hall that was demolished in 1948.
In December 1873, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield devised a similar game for the
amusement of his guests at a garden party on his estate at Nantclwyd, Wales. He based
the game on the older sport of indoor tennis or real tennis "royal tennis," which had been
invented in 12th century France and was played by French aristocrats down to the time of
the French Revolution.
Seeing the commercial potential of the game, Wingfield patented it in 1874, but
never succeeded in enforcing his patent. Tennis spread rapidly among the leisured
classes in Britain and the United States. It was first played in the U.S. at the home of
Mary Ewing Outerbridge on Staten Island, New York in 1874.
In 1881 the desire to play tennis competitively led to the establishment of tennis
clubs. The first championships at Wimbledon, in London were played in 1877. In 1881
the United States National Lawn Tennis Association (now the United States Tennis
Association) was formed to standardize the rules and organize competitions. The
comprehensive International Lawn Tennis Federation (I.L.T.F.) rules spread in 1924 have
remained remarkably stable in the ensuing eighty years, the one major change being the
addition of the tie-breaker system designed by James van Alen. U.S. National Men's
Singles Championship, now the U.S. Open, was first held in 1881 at Newport, Rhode
Island. The U.S. National Women's Singles Championships were first held in 1887. The
Davis Cup, an annual competition between national teams, dates to 1900.
Tennis was for many years predominantly a sport of the English-speaking world,
dominated by the United States, Britain, and Australia. It was also popular in France,
where the French Open dates to 1891. Thus Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open
and the Australian Open (dating to 1905) became and have remained the most prestigious
events in tennis. Together these four events are called the Grand Slam (a term borrowed
from bridge). Winning the Grand Slam, by capturing these four titles in one calendar
year, is the highest ambition of most tennis players.
In 1954 James Van Alen founded the International Tennis Hall of Fame, a non-
profit museum in Newport, Rhode Island. The building contains a large collection of
tennis memorabilia as well as a hall of fame honoring prominent members and tennis
players from all over the world.
In 1926 a group of American tennis players established a professional tennis
circuit, playing exhibition matches to paying audiences. For 40 years professional and
amateur tennis remained strictly separate. Once a player turnedpro he or she could not
compete in the major (amateur) tournaments. In 1968, commercial pressures led to the
abandonment of this distinction, inaugurating the Open Era, in which all players could
compete in all tournaments, and top players were able to make their living from tennis
(Tennis Encyclopedia 2005).
By the end of the 20th century, the face of tennis has changed for the men and
women's tours. It will be remembered in tennis lore as the "Parking Lot News
Conference." In 1988, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the men's
professional tennis players' association, used a parking lot at the U.S. Open to announce
that they would assume control of the game. It was the defining moment in the evolution
from the ATP, formed in 1972 under the leadership of superstar Jack Kramer, to the ATP
Tour, the governing body of the worldwide men's professional tennis circuit. "Tennis at
the Crossroads," a plan presented at the U.S. Open detailed the problems and conflicts
confronting men's professional tennis as well as the tremendous opportunities available
for promoting and marketing the game.
The idea behind "Tennis at the Crossroads" was for the players to form a new tour
in which they would play a major role and bear greater responsibility for the future of the
sport. The idea was quickly embraced by the membership. Eighty-five of the Top 100
ranked players signed a letter of support for a new tour within weeks after the news
conference. By the fall of 1988, 24 top players had signed contracts to play on the ATP
Tour, which began operation in January of 1990. During the same period, tournament
directors representing many of the world's leading events voiced their support for the
players and joined them in what would become a partnership unique in professional
sports-players and tournaments, each with an equal voice in how the circuit is run
Billie Jean King and her group of eight other renegades were revolutionaries by
1970s standards. Hot on the heels of Title IX in the United States, they envisioned a
better future for women's tennis. The advent of the Open Era in April 1968 had been
generous to male players, providing them with better facilities and increased prize
money. By the time of the 1970 Pacific South West Open in Los Angeles, the men's
champion stood to made eight times more than the women's winner ($12,500 vs. $1,500).
So outraged by the inequity were King and her colleagues, that they took the bold
decision to break away from the tournament and go on their own.
With a little help from World Tennis Magazine editor Gladys Heldman and her
friend Joe Cullman from Philip Morris1, the inaugural $7,500 Virginia Slims of Houston
was established on September 23, 1970. That was the groundbreaker for all other all-
female tournaments. And in 1973, The Women's Tennis Association was born out of a
meeting in a London hotel room during Wimbledon.
The Tennis of Today
Although tennis has changed considerably from the days of the first tennis matches,
the ATP and WTA Tours demonstrate equity in their ranking systems and number of
tournaments played. The ATP utilizes a ranking system called the INDESIT ATP Entry
Ranking system, the objective merit-based method used for determining qualification for
1 Philip Morris USA (PM USA), the nation's largest cigarette company, is the maker of Marlboro, Virginia
Slims, Benson & Hedges, Parliament, Basic and many other world-famous cigarette brands.
entry and seeding in all tournaments for both singles and doubles. Every player,
regardless of his performances in the previous year, starts with zero points. Players count
18 performances in their INDESIT ATP Race total. The number of players ranked in the
INDESIT ATP Race is 1,400 and growing (ATP 2005).
But in most weekly tournaments, excluding Grand Slam tournaments and the
Olympics, the men's singles draw is either 64 players with the top 16 players seeded or
32 players with the top eight players seeded. In a Grand Slam tournament, there are 128
players entered and 32 players are seeded. The remaining players in the tournament get a
chance to play in a Grand Slam by one of these three instances: (1) Because their ranking
is good enough in the INDESIT ATP Race; (2) Because they played in a series qualifying
matches to give them a berth into the Grand Slam; or (3) Because they are a wildcard
entry, which means they enter the tournament because their past experience in
tournaments was worthy enough for a bid in a Grand Slam. The tournament committee
usually chooses the wildcard players.
The WTA Rankings are the worldwide computer rankings for women's
professional tennis. It's a ranking system that reflects both a player's performance in
tournament play (round points) as well as her record against other players (quality
points). The ranking system is a 52-week, cumulative system in which the number of
tournament results that comprise a player's ranking is capped at seventeen (17). The
WTA Tour also has 1,400 players in their ranking race (WTA 2005). But like the men's
tour, the women's weekly tournaments have a 64 or 32 player draw with the top 16 or top
eight players seeded. The same rules as men also apply for women at a Grand Slam
The men's tour lasts for 47 weeks including Davis Cup play, Grand Slam
tournaments and the Olympics. The women's tour lasts for 45 weeks and their play
includes Fed Cup (the female version of Davis Cup), Grand Slam Tournaments and the
Olympics. Both the ATP and WTA have a tour championship, in which the number one
player in the world is crowned at the conclusion of the tournament. This tournament is
called the Tennis Masters Cup for the men and the WTA Tour Championships for the
Prize money in some Grand Slam tournaments and other tournaments on the circuit
is a disparity between male and female tennis players today. The U.S. Open and
Australian Open both award equal prize money to male and female tennis players. But at
the 2005 French Open, the men's champion will receive $8,258,064, while the female
champion will receive $7,542,776.
The WTA'S 47th ranked player and two-time NCAA Player of the Year Laura
Granville discussed the unequal prize money of men and women to Dave Hollander of
New York Sports Express on Sept. 3, 2003, and said,
That's something a lot of the women pros have problems with. If you notice in a
given week there might be three men's tournaments where the total prize money
will be around six hundred or seven hundred thousand per tournament and then
there will be one women's tournament with prize money around one hundred ten.
So we've had a lot of meetings about this at the Grand Slams but not all that much
is being done about it. They keep saying it's a really tough economy but you
know, it's really discouraging. I'm sure they definitely can do something because
if the men can have three tournaments that are huge prize money in the same week
then obviously there is the money to do it. Maybe it's a just a matter of being more
In 1965, the first issue of TENNIS Magazine was published. Today, TENNIS
Magazine asserts that they serve as the primary source of information for more than
700,000 paid subscribers, consisting of fans and avid tennis players of all levels of
expertise. These subscribers have been playing tennis for an average of 20.7 years and
they play often an average of 115 times a year. They are also avid fans of the game: 97%
watch pro tennis on television, and they love their tennis live ... 50% have attended a pro
tennis event in the last two years (p. 2-6).
According to the December 31, 2004 statement from the Audit Bureau of
Circulations (ABC) published twice a year, TENNIS Magazine had 691,972 subscriber
sales and 13, 806 single copy sales or newsstand sales. This means that TENNIS is
98.1% subscription driven and 1.9% newsstand sales driven. Also, according to a 2003-
2004 subscriber study, TENNIS Magazine 97.4% of subscribers played tennis in the last
12 months. Their level of play varies with 1.4% being beginners, 69.5% lower/upper
intermediate players and 29% were advanced/experts.
In the March 2001 issue of TENNIS Magazine, a familiar name to the game of
tennis joined their team and became the publisher. Chris Evert decided to get more
involved in the sport she adored for so many years. In every issue since March 2001,
Evert has her own column entitled Chrissie's Page. Since the magazine's inception 40
years ago, the departments have not changed much. In every issue, there are sections
about instruction, apparel and gear, fitness, travel and feature articles.
In the second to last pages of each issue of TENNIS Magazine the ATP and WTA
Top 50 rankings are listed numerically. The magazine lists the players name, their total
race points, their ranking as of one month ago, their ranking as of one year ago and their
career highest ranking. The magazine also features the top ten male and female prize
money leaders for that month, the top five male and female doubles teams, and a section
called "The Way It Was," which lists the top five male and female players in a given year
in the past. The purpose of these pages is to keep readers informed of the rankings
system on a monthly basis and to also give a detailed look into the prize money aspect, as
well as a historical portion.
But, tennis' fan base started to decline in the late 1990s. TENNIS Magazine editor,
Peter Bodo (1998) interviewed diehard tennis fan Judy Mayer of Chicago in 1998 and
included her in an article written in the November 1998 issue of TENNIS. Mayer spent
about $30,000 a year on everything from airline tickets to sunblock in support of her
tennis habit (p. 12).
It's a real drag the way all those corporate seats are sold, but then go unused during
a typical tournament, said Mayer, who in 1998 attended ATP Tour events in places
as far-flung as Miami, Rome, Indianapolis and New York. Imagine, a person
willing to fork over $100 for a good seat in a half-empty stadium on a weekday and
she can't find anyone interested in taking her money. When that happens, you have
to wonder what tennis is doing to retain its truest supporters.
But, by 2000 tennis was making a comeback, according to Bodo's September 2000
article in TENNIS. He wrote:
Tennis participation is up. The USTA2 reports that nearly 21 million Americans
played at least once last year, a 14 percent increase from 1995. Fan interest is also
up. According to the Sports Business Daily Twelve-Sport Index, pro tennis fan
base increased by 15.4 percent between March 1999 and March 2000. Attendance
is up. Both tours reported double-digit attendance increases last year, and the
Australian Open attracted more than 500,000 spectators for the first time in 2000.
Television viewership is up. Ratings for the final weekend of last year's U.S. Open
increased 117 percent from 1998 (p. 42-57).
Tennis' Sexual Appeal Increases -> Popularity Increases
But, is the increase in tennis interest because of the game itself? Is it because of the
players? One instance showed that tennis has resorted to using sex appeal to sell their
2 The USTA or United States Tennis Association is the national governing body for the sport of tennis and
the recognized leader in promoting and developing the sport's growth on every level in the United States,
from local communities to the crown jewel of the professional game, the US Open.
sport. For example, controversy ensued after models, aged 19-28, were chosen to be ball
girls at the 2004 Madrid Masters tournament. The models wore split skirts and skimpy
tops emblazoned with the name of a sponsor. They replaced the volunteer youngsters
who were originally chosen for the duty of ball kids
(http://sports.espn.go. com/espn/print?id= 1908535&type=story 2 & 3).
Top-ranked male player Marat Safin said, "It seems like tennis players are not
exciting for the spectators. The models mean people are still talking about tennis. Good
publicity, bad publicity, it doesn't matter." One confused model forgot which way to run
as she collected a ball and had to be reminded by the umpire to return to her place beside
the net. Others dropped balls or fumbled after them, while players waited to start serving
According to Bodo (2002), Anna Kournikova is known across the world, not for
her skills on the court, but for her sex appeal. While Kournikova still had yet to earn her
first WTA3 tour singles title by the summer of 2002, she already was ranked as the most
photographed woman on the planet (summer of 2000) and the "Lolita-esque Queen of
cyberspace," garnering 1,090,000 hits to more Web sites than any other female athlete
Kournikova's newest rival was 17-year-old Russian Maria Sharapova. McDonald
(2004), a writer for Travel GolfMagazine, said, "She's no. 11 on Lycos' Top 50 Web
searches with 109,000 hits, putting her in a league with the Hilton sisters and Britney
She was also named one of People Magazines '50 Most Beautiful People' in 2005.
3 The WTA or Women's Tennis Association is the governing body for women's tennis. The WTA tour is
the world's premier professional sport for women.
Sharapova, who actually won Wimbledon in 2004, is still looked at first for her sex
appeal instead of her tennis talent.
Female players aren't the only ones who are subject to sexual commentary. In a
TENNIS Magazine article about fans at player practice sessions, Bodo (1998) said, As a
result, thousands were able to see top players (including Pete Sampras, Marcelo Rios,
Patrick Rafter, Carlos Moya and emerging American heartthrob Jan-Michael Gambill)
not only shirtless, but stressless" (p. 12).
With sexual innuendo in sports featured on the Internet, television, and in
magazines, researching magazine cover photography is important because a magazine's
cover is its most prominent and useful selling tool. It is fundamental for the cover to sell
the issue to both the regular subscribers and potential newsstand buyers. Ultimately,
editors are selling an entire magazine based on one page, the cover. Research is limited
on the selection of a cover image, especially in sports-related magazines.
According to research examined during this study, five aspects were prevalent
throughout sports media. First, women are underrepresented in their coverage in all
realms of the sports media newspapers, magazines, and television. Second, when
women are featured in the media, they often are portrayed as more emotional than their
male counterparts. Third, women are shown in sports publications being posed instead of
active. Fourth, women are publicized in a stereotypical, sexual manner in the sports
media. Fifth, the attire worn by both male and female tennis players has gone from
classic tennis clothing to more revealing outfits.
Women Underrepresented in Coverage
Although there has been relatively little research on how images and coverlines are
selected for the covers of magazines, some studies show that women are under-
represented in their coverage in sports-related publications. (Hardin, Dodd and Lauffer
2004; Adams and Tuggle 2003; Pedersen, Whisenant, and Schneider 2003; James and
Ridinger 2002; Hardin, Lynn, Walsdorf, and Hardin 2002; Pedersen 2002; Mack 2000;
Wann, Waddill and Dunham 2000; Kinnick 1998; DeLouth, Pirson, Hitchcock and
Rienzi 1995; Salwen and Wood 1994; Lumpkin and Williams 1991; Duncan and
Sayaovong 1990; Luebke 1989; Kane 1988; Messner 1988; Hilliard 1984; Rintala and
In a study by Salwen and Wood (1994), the researchers looked at how females
were depicted on the covers of Sports Illustrated from 1957-1989. The study found that
females received significantly less coverage than males. There were 55 females
compared to 782 males.
There were so few females on the covers during the 1960s and 1970s that these two
periods were combined into a single period. The findings concluded that females
were less likely than males to appear on the covers of Sports Illustrated. The
largest percentage of female athletes appeared on the covers during the 1950s (14.3
percent). (p. 102 & 105)
According to Sports Illustrated's 2004 media kit, SI has 3 million subscribers; 23
million adults read the publication per week, 18 million of these people being men.
Hardin, Lynn, Walsdorf, & Hardin (2002) studied advertising and gender images in
Sports Illustratedfor Kids. They found that stereotypes and sexual difference continue to
dominate SIK advertising images. "Males continue to outnumber females in SIK
advertising photographs at a ratio of 5:1. Out of SIK's readership of 6.7 million kids and
teens, 71 percent are males and only 29 percent are female. The smaller number of
advertising photographs of females may be the result of advertiser attention to magazine
demographics" (p. 77).
Duncan and Sayaovong (1990) researched photographic images and gender in
Sports Illustratedfor Kids. They found that "the overall SIK percentages show that
photographs featuring males outnumber females by a 2 to 1 ratio (62% to 28%). SIK
photographs portraying males appeared more often than those portraying females in all
major categories: primary figures on the cover, secondary figures on the cover, posters,
full-page color photographs, sportscards, and others" (p. 101). "Males as the primary
cover figure outnumbered females by a ratio of 5 to 1 (83% to17%). Males on posters
outnumbered females by a ratio of 2 to 1 (67% to 33%). Males in full-page color
photographs outnumbered females by more than 2 to 1 (71% to 29%)" (p. 101).
During the 34 years (1954-1987) of Sports Illustrated studied by Lumpkin and
Williams (1991), males authored 3,068 articles and females authored 157. Sports
Illustrated reinforces traditional attitudes toward females in sport by providing limited
numbers and shorter lengths of feature articles primarily in "sex appropriate" sports (p.
31). Sex appropriate sports included diving, tennis, ice skating, gymnastics,
synchronized swimming, etc.
A study of Runner's World magazine completed by Hardin, Dodd, Chance, and
Wuertz (2002) found that the "depictions of females in the magazine during the 1990s are
not reflective of the numbers of female runners in the U.S. population (47%). Females
are just 38% of the total images during the three years coded (1992, 1996, and 2001)" (p.
Hilliard (1984) studied 115 articles on leading male and female tennis players
appearing between June 1979 and September 1983 in various types of magazines, such as
Sport, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, Reader's Digest, People, Glamour, Esquire,
New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine. He found 15 articles reporting the
results of major tennis championships such as the U.S. Open and Wimbledon revealed
the following biases:
More text was devoted to the men's matches than to the women's matches; the
titles of the articles referred to the men rather than the women; and both
photographs and text about the men appeared first, with photographs and text about
the women following. Articles covering men-only tournaments, such as the Volvo
Masters and WCT Finals, outnumbered articles on women-only tournaments, such
as the Avon and Virginia Slims championships, 12 to 5. There were 33 editorials
and character studies of the four leading men, compared with 27 such articles on
the eight leading women. Thus, direct comparisons indicate that male tennis
players do receive more coverage in the magazines than female players even
though female tennis players themselves probably receive more media attention
than any other group of female athletes. (p. 253)
The main purpose of Rintala and Birrell's 1984 study was to determine whether
females and males receive different treatment as subjects of Young Athlete magazine.
Their study concluded that males were twice as likely as females to be pictured in Young
Atilete. Males dominate the most prominent photographs in the magazine, between 71
and 84% of them. Male authors write most of the material in Young Ailetie. More males
than females were shown in photographs depicting sport-related roles such as
coach/leader and official (p. 239).
Pedersen (2002) examined equity in the newspaper photographs in sports sections.
A total of 827 photographs were examined from 602 randomly selected newspaper
issues. The sample was taken over a one-year timeframe from all 43 the daily
newspapers published in Florida. "Of the study's 827 photographs, 32.6 percent were
devoted to female athletics, while 66.7 percent were about male athletics. Additionally,
of the 7549 column inches included in this study, 32.8 percent were devoted to female
athletics and 66.2 percent were given to male athletics" (p. 314).
Pedersen, Whisenant, and Schneider (2003) also assessed gender with regard to
sport newspaper personnel and their coverage. This study found, "females are highly
underrepresented in three key newspaper personnel positions (editorial, written, and
photographic)" (p. 387). The findings also indicate that increasing the number of females
on newspaper staffs will not necessarily assure equitable coverage for women athletes.
DeLouth, Pirson, Hitchcock and Rienzi (1995) examined three California
newspapers' national and sports sections (The Bakersfield Californian, The San
Francisco Examiner and The Los Angeles Times) to see if there was an equitable
depiction of various subgroups within the culture. They found that women, who
comprise more than half of the California population, were pictured significantly less
than men overall. Women were pictured 39 times, while men were shown 339 times.
The sports sections depicted men twenty times more often than women (183 male versus
9 female photographs) (p. 493).
A study by Pedersen, Whisenant and Schneider (2003) found that the newspaper
media was clearly the domain of males who made up 91.4% of reporters, 78.6% of the
photographers, 100% of the executive sports editors and 91.3% of the high school sports
editors. The study used a content analysis to examine the gendering of sports newspaper
personnel and their coverage. The researchers looked at 1,792 articles and 827
photographs. The findings for this study provide a foundation for sport managers and
sport journalists to realize that coverage of females will only improve after there is a
change in their mindset and not just a change in their hiring decisions (p. 390).
Luebke (1989) studied the roles portrayed by men and women in newspaper
photographs. "The photographs in the 184 newspapers studied yielded 8960
representations 6,126 (68.37%) men and 2,834 (32.63%) women ... Photos of men
outnumbered those of women on all pages except lifestyle pages" (p. 125).
Kinnick (1998) researched gender bias in newspaper profiles of 1996 Olympic
athletes. She found that scholars who study gender and race bias in media content focus
on two primary criteria, recognition and respect. Recognition was considered the
quantitative presence of the group of interest. Kinnick states,
The absence of women from sports media is not in consequential. The implicit
message, when women are absent or underrepresented, is that female athletes either
do not exist, or have no achievements that are newsworthy. The problem if lack of
representation is compounded by the tendency of media to emphasize those sports
which are seen as "sex appropriate" for women, while ignoring those which are
seen as "masculine." Thus, women's sports which do receive coverage are likely to
be sports which emphasize feminine ideals of elegance, glamour and beauty, such
as figure skating and women's gymnastics, and which reveal the athlete's body
rather than concealing it under bulky equipment. (p. 215)
Kinnick examined gender bias in sports coverage and found that it is attributed to
several factors: "societal views of women in general; a patriarchal sports culture
dominated by males at every level; the financial imperatives of pleasing advertisers by
attracting the large male audience and keeping them by appealing to male interests; news
values which define women's sports as less important than men's sports, and newsroom
practices which make covering women's sports logistically more difficult than covering
men's sports" (p. 219).
Adams and Tuggle (2003) found that despite the growing level of participation by
female athletes at all competition levels and documented fan interest in women's
athletics, coverage of women's sports remains inferior to that given male sports across all
media (p. 2).
In nearly every aspect column inches, running time, persons quoted, placement of
articles, presence, size, length, and placement of photographs and videotape, range
of sports and size of headlines women's coverage lags behind. Tuggle's study of
ESPN SportsCenter and CNN Sports Tonight (1997) showed that the two programs
devoted only five percent of their airtime to women's athletics, and that nearly all
of that went to individual, rather than to team events. (p. 2)
In 1995, ESPN reported that 22 percent of its SportsCenter audience was female
(Tuggle 1997). But in the Adams and Tuggle study of ESPN SportsCenter and coverage
of women's athletics in 2002, they found that during the 30 days under their study, ESPN
ran 778 stories about males, only 16 about females, and another 13 that mentioned both
males and females (p. 8).
Hardin, Lauffer, and Dodd (2005) studied the gender and racial diversity in sports
journalism textbooks. They found that "images of sport in these textbooks are
overwhelmingly male" (p. 14).
All of the textbooks involved in this study reinforced male hegemony in sports
through the percentage of females depicted and through the types of depictions.
Unfortunately, this is not surprising, given the number of studies that have
chronicled such patterns in sports media and in textbooks across a number of fields
(including journalism). (p. 16)
In this study of sports journalism textbooks, the researchers found that "men
outnumbered women 5-to-1; 89% of references in the text of all books were to men, and
11% of references were to women" (p. 14).
Women Portrayed in More Emotional Circumstances
Several studies (Gniazdowski & Denham 2003; Kinnick 1998; Salwen & Wood
1994; Duncan 1990; Wanta & Leggett 1989) have found that women are shown in more
emotional positions than their male counterparts.
In a study by Kinnick (1998), she looked at gender bias in newspaper profiles of
1996 Olympic athletes. "Areas where gender bias against women was evident related to
the more frequent mentions of female athletes' marital status, dependency on others,
emotionality, and general good looks, as well as the assignment of stories along gender
lines" (p. 233).
Duncan (1990) also looked at emotional displays of female athletes in the 1984 and
1988 Olympic Games. "In sports magazines, we see very few photos of men crying,
although we know that male athletes do cry and sometimes do so publicly. In a
patriarchal society, tears may signify weakness and are therefore considered unmanly" (p.
37). Yet, photos of tearful females are not uncommon. There were 12 pictures of women
visibly crying, including 7 pictures of Mary Decker1 after her fall during the 1984 Games.
"There were a few pictures of men whose faces were buried in their hands or towels, but
no others that explicitly showed men crying" (Duncan, 1990, p. 38).
In contrast, Wanta and Leggett (1989) examined gender stereotypes in wire service
sports photographs from the 1987 Wimbledon tennis tournament and found males were
depicted in emotional states more often than females. An athlete was in an emotional
state if he or she was depicted as being surprised, agitated, grimacing, or showing some
sort of excited or distorted facial expression (p. 106). The first explanation for this was
that the men might have exhibited more emotional responses than the women, which the
photographer captured. "Second, because male tennis players in general, and the top-
seeded player in particular, tend to hold themselves in tight control, photographers may
have shot them in emotional poses because it was unusual, and so dramatic and
newsworthy" (p. 111).
Sports editors, however, over-selected photographs of women in helpless poses
from the collection of pictures sent by AP. Because men were often shown in elevated
positions above a helpless female, these findings suggest sports editors are reinforcing the
stereotype that women are more easily dominated than men. A helpless pose in this study
was defined as being shown in prostrate positions, giving the impression of
submissiveness. By representing women as helpless, sports editors give readers the
1 According to ESPN's Classic Moments, Mary Decker's bid for 1984 Olympic gold in Los Angeles came
to a crashing halt. With a little more than three laps left in the 3,000 meters and running in the inside lane,
Decker's right foot became tangled with the left foot of the leader, Zola Budd, the 18-year-old African who
ran for Britain. Reaching out as she fell, Decker tried to grab something -- all she got was the number 151
off Budd's back. She tried to get up, but couldn't. She collapsed in tears.
impression that women are less athletically inclined than men (Wanta & Leggett, 1989, p.
Women Shown in More Posed Photographs
Other studies demonstrate that women are featured more often in posed positions
and males are shown in active photographs. In the Salwen and Wood (1994) study,
which examined the depictions of female athletes on Sports Illustrated covers from 1957-
1989, they asserted, "when female athletes appeared (on Sports Illustrated), they were
less likely than male athletes to be portrayed in active poses" (p. 105).
Athletes were coded in active poses if they were participants in sports. For
example, an active pose would be a basketball player shooting a hoop, a swimmer
about to dive, a baseball player on the field, and so forth. A non-active or posed
photograph was defined as non-competitive settings or positions, such as a head
shot, in the stands, or in an armchair at home. (p. 102)
Also, "Female athletes were more likely to be depicted in active sports poses on the
covers of Sports Illustrated during the 1950s than during later decades" (p. 105).
Duncan (1990) also studied the poses of athletes in photographs. "Female athletes
bear a striking resemblance to those of women in soft-core pornography" (p. 29). Some
sports photographs show a marked preoccupation with particular female body parts in the
way that Kuhn describes the following,
In one kind of photography the woman's body is angled toward the camera to offer
maximum display of whatever part of the body is that the moment being
emphasized ... The photograph says: look at this, this body is here for you to look
at, and you will enjoy looking at it. The formal arrangement of the body, the way it
is displayed, solicits the spectator's gaze. (Kuhn, 1985, p. 38)
Gniazdowski and Denham (2003) examined still (not in motion) photographs of
female athletes featured in Sports Illustrated versus Sports Illustratedfor Women. With
respect to appearing in an action shot or in a posed position, 75.8% of male athletes were
in action as compared with just 31.3% of female athletes were in action.
"By portraying female athletes in a certain manner, then, media contribute to
stereotypes that cast women as inactive, subordinate athletes who participate only in
individual, non-contact sports and are admired for their physique and physical
attractiveness" (p. 2).
When Duncan and Sayaovong (1990) examined photographic images and gender in
Sports Illustratedfor Kids, they found:
Of the photographs portraying females, 65% were shown as active, while 35%
were shown as inactive. Of the photographs portraying males, 79% were pictured
as active, while 21% were pictured as inactive. At first glance the differences
between photographs of females and males do not seem noteworthy. However,
when one compares the overall percentages of males versus females, one finds that
55% if the total number of photos shows active males, while only 19% of the total
number of photos show active females.
Cavender (2002) found that seven females and three males were featured in passive
poses in her study of Sports Illustrated coverage during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic
Games. "The other interesting finding was that the only group shots of athletes not
engaged in their sport were of women. There were no photos of men's teams together
while not playing their sport, and all three cover shots were of an active male athlete
engaged in his sportss" (p. 13).
Hardin, Dodd, Chance and Wuertz's 2002 study on Runner 's World magazine
found that "overall, 68% of all active depictions have been of males, and 31% of
females" (p. 14).
Rintala and Birrell (1984) in their study of YoungAthlete magazine found, "more
females are depicted in aesthetic activities and more males are depicted in photographs of
high-risk activities and those featuring the demonstration of strength and/or overpowering
an opponent" (p. 239).
Each of the 107 sport activities depicted in YoungAithlete was classified into
categories and the percentage of males and females depicted was calculated. Females
dominated the aesthetic sports (64%) while males dominated the high-risk sports (81%)
and the strength sports (89%) (p. 240).
Women Publicized in Stereotypical, Sexual Manner
Several studies have involved the coverage of women in a sexual, and often
stereotypical manner. In a study by Rinalta and Birrell (1984), a content analysis of
Young Athlete Magazine was conducted. The outcome was "women continue to be
under-represented in the media and to be portrayed in outdated traditional roles. Young
Aiilete estimates its female readership at between 40% and 50%. Yet few females
appear on the cover (19%) because the editors believe those issues do not sell as well" (p.
In the Salwen and Wood (1994) study of female athletes on Sports Illustrated
covers, they found the August 28, 1989 cover of tennis star Chris Evert epitomized the
family theme. "Evert was photographed from the waist up with her racket slung over her
shoulder and her wedding ring prominently displayed. The caption read: "I'm going to
be a full-time wife" (p. 106).
Schell, assistant professor with the department of kinesiology and an associate with
the Institute for Women's Health at Texas Woman's University, (1999) wrote in an
article in the Women's Sports Foundation Media Spotlight about media representations
of women in sport. She stated, "In written texts, visual images, and spoken
commentaries, women athletes are often portrayed as sexual objects available for male
consumption rather than as competitive athletes. For example, the June 5, 2000 Sports
Illustrated cover and several inside photographs of tennis player, Anna Koumikova,
show her posing seductively for the camera in her off-court wear."
My recent investigation into the now-defunct CN/WS&F (Conde Nast Sports for
Women/Women Sports & Fitness) magazine revealed that most covers and story
photographs featured white, slender models wearing scanty fitness clothes exposing
those body parts equated with feminine sexuality, such as thighs, abdominals,
cleavage, and buttocks. Such images divert attention from women's achievements
as serious athletes and reinforce misguided assumptions that women in sport are
noncompetitive and interested only in sex-appropriate sport.
Cavender (2002) studied language in sports by looking at articles, captions and
images in three issues of Sports Illustrated: July 29, 1996, August 5, 1996, and August
12, 1996, which covered the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Overwhelmingly, mentions of appearance were confined to female athletes. The
women's basketball team had a mention of a player with a 'budding modeling career',
while one player is intimidated by the 'carriage and confidence' of another, as opposed to
being intimidated by her athletic prowess or strength. Mia Hamm, the start of the
women's soccer team, was described as 'a dashing figure'. The sole mention of a man's
appearance was in the shoes that Michael Johnson wore after breaking the world record
in the 100-meter dash (p.11).
In a study of sexual difference in Sports Illustratedfor Kids editorial photos
completed by Hardin, Walsdorf, and Hardin (2002), they concluded that SIK has not
moved away from gender stereotypes that are clearly outdated and restrictive. "Although
more women in neutral team sports, basketball and soccer (in particular) are making their
way into the magazine's pages, SIK has done little to present gender-equal images to its
readers. The impact of the 1996 Olympic games known as the 'Year of the Woman' -
seemed to have made little difference in SIK' (p. 355).
Luebke (1989) studied the images of women and men in 184 issues of the four
Connecticut newspapers (Hartford Courant, Greenwich Time, New Haven Register and
Danbury News Times) and found that both genders are portrayed stereotypically. The
study examined the photos in every eighth issue from July 1, 1984 to June 25, 1985 and
the photos were coded for number of representations, page placement, and the roles
portrayed by each individual represented.. The study yielded 8,960 representations of
men and women. Men were characterized as professionals and sportsmen, and women
were shown to be just the spouse of the male. "It is also worth noting that 10% of the
time, women are portrayed on page one as spouses, while only 1% of the men on the
page are seen in that role. Men are most likely to make page one because they are doing
serious, important things; women make page one because they are 'interesting"' (p. 129-
Duncan (1990) examined sports photographs and sexual difference by looking at
images of women and men in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. She found that many
factors influence sexual difference in sports photographs. The physical appearance of the
athlete played an important role on their coverage. "For example, out of all of the
magazines examined, there were 33 pictures of Florence Griffith Joyner to only 25 of
Jackie Joyner-Kersee, an equally fine athlete, yet not one considered glamorous or
beautiful according to conventional standards" (p. 28). Joyner-Kersee lacked the long
tresses, lavish makeup, and racy one-legged running suits that emphasize the sexual
difference of Griffith Joyner. "It is perhaps for these reasons that Joyner-Kersee is not as
frequently photographed" (p. 29).
In Miner's (2003) study of women in sport and their impact on today's society, she
In a vicious circle of ill logic and discrimination, women were excluded from sport,
and their exclusion was interpreted as evidence of their weakness. The result has
been to convince many women that their participation in sport should be focused on
a very acceptable purpose: to make them more physically attractive. The
enhancement of women as objects of physical beauty and sexual attractiveness
serves to reinforce the status of women in a capitalistic society. (Miner, 2003, p.
In Kinnick's (1998) study on gender bias in newspaper profiles of 1996 Olympic
athletes, she noted that "the aspects of women's appearance commented on most
frequently were height (29.9%), weight (26%), hair (13%), and muscular build (13%).
Reporters were more than four times as likely to mention the 'good looks,' 'beauty' or
'cuteness' of female athletes (9.1%) than they were to mention the general good looks of
male athletes (2.2%)" (p. 225).
According to Kane (2002), there are more and more images of female athletes that
bear resemblances to soft-core pornography. "What you see is an emphasis, not on their
athleticism and their athletic achievements, or their mental courage and toughness, but on
their sexuality, their femininity, and their heterosexuality" (p. 7).
So what better way to reinforce all of the social stereotypes about femininity and
masculinity than to pick up Sports Illustrated or Rolling Stone or Maxim or Gear
and see an image of a female athlete, not as strong and powerful but as somebody
that you can sexualize and feel power over. I don't think that there's a more overt
example of that these days than in the world of professional tennis in the image of
Anna Kournikova. She has the most corporate sponsorship of any professional
female athlete and it is not because of her athletic competence because she is as of
this date, still has never won any singles tournament, let alone a Major. (p. 7)
Koivula (1999) studied gender stereotyping in televised media sport coverage and
found, "In 1998, female athletes received 21.7% of the coverage of gender-neutral2 sports
and 1.8% of the coverage of sports classified as masculine, whereas male athletes
received 74.2% and 98.0% respectively" (p. 595).
"The general finding from this study and related research is that the news media
consistently contributes to the reproduction of traditional expectations of men and women
and to the construction of a social stratification which enhances and naturalizes gender
differences" (Koivula, 1999, p. 602).
O'Keefe (2000) wrote an article in Newshouse News Service about female
Olympian's and their revealing poses in various publications. U.S. Olympic swimmer,
Jenny Thompson, was one athlete in particular who succumbed to sex to sell her career.
"Thompson posed on a California beach for Sports Illustrated wearing red boots, a red-
white-and-blue swimsuit bottom and nothing on top, her fists covering her bare breasts.
The woman Mattel chose to endorse 'Swimming Champion Barbie' says she took off part
of her suit to display a muscular, athletic form to young girls"
Tennis and The Recent Change in Playing Attire
Certain rules of etiquette and codes of conduct exist within the United States
Tennis Association (USTA). According to Off-Court Tennis by Johnson (2001),
The essential guideline to follow in selecting tennis clothing is that it be
comfortable and allow free movement. Typically, tennis requires quick movements:
a wide range of stretching, reaching, and bending, with bursts of rapid sprinting.
You should never wear any kind of clothing on the court that could interfere with
your motion. Moreover, tennis requires a good deal of concentration, and there
2 Gender-neutral is defined as free of explicit or implicit reference to gender or sex, as is the term police
officer (instead of policewoman or policeman).
should be no distractions from clothing that binds (such as jeans) or flaps wildly
(such as oversize shirts). Commonly players wear a loose knit shirt and tennis
A great variety of clothing suitable for tennis is available. Commonly players wear
a loose knit shirt and tennis shorts. In the past, women frequently wore tennis
dresses, but they are not often seen now except among high-level players usually
on television. At one time, white was the required color for tennis clothing,
particularly in England, especially at Wimbledon. However, now tennis clothing
can be any color, even black, but it is a good idea to wear all or mostly white
clothing when playing outdoors if the sun is very hot. Tennis shorts should have at
least one reasonably deep pocket (to securely hold the second tennis ball when
serving). (http://unix.dsu.edu/j ohnsone/offcourt.html)
An example of a tennis apparel controversy occurred as early as the 1973 "Battle of
the Sexes" tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. Both players
remained curiously secretive about what they would wear. King's designer, legendary
British tennis couturier Ted Tinling, revealed to King a silk-lined dress of opalescent
cellophane threads stitched onto nylon. According to Smithsonian Magazine freelance
writer Leibowitz (2003):
Resplendent in the shimmering fabric, King "looked great in it," the designer wrote
in his 1979 autobiography, "and we were both delighted." But moments later,
Tinling recalled, "her expression changed." When she saw it, she said, 'Oh great.'
Then she tried it on, and said, 'No, Ted, I can't wear it.'" The dress, said King, was
"too scratchy." As she explained to Tinling: "I can't stand anything like that; it's
gotta be very soft next to my skin." Instead, King chose to wear the designer's
backup option-a menthol green and sky blue nylon number whose color scheme
paid subtle homage to the fledgling Virginia Slims women's tennis tour, launched
two years earlier.
The dress earned a place in the collections of the Smithsonian's National Museum
of American History. While not Tinling's first choice, the dress, says curator Ellen Roney
Hughes, "is still a pretty flashy item. You can see how Billie Jean dressed to take
advantage of and enhance the publicity"
Based on the literature reviewed in this chapter and the researcher's examination of
the 50 issues of TENNIS magazine, six research questions were formulated.
RQ1: Was there a difference in the number of males versus the amount of females on the
RQ2: Was there a difference in the photos regarding women versus men being posed or
active in the cover image?
RQ3: Was there a difference in the photos regarding the emotion of male and female
players on the cover?
RQ4: Was there a difference in the men versus women with regard to showing more
sexual portrayals on the covers?
RQ5: Was there a difference in the men versus women with regard to a provocative style
of clothing on the covers?
RQ6: Was the wording of the coverlines on the covers non-tennis related?
TENNIS Magazine issues from 2000 to 2004 were examined in this study.
TENNIS Magazine publishes 10 times a year, combining two months twice a year.
Covers of sports magazines are especially interesting to study because of the photos and
coverlines they select. TENNIS was coded to see how the images have changed in five
years on the most widely read tennis publication and see if it reflects the trend of more
sex appeal on sports magazines. TENNIS Magazine's 2000 to 2004 covers featured only
professional tennis players and most were in the Top 5 or Top 10 in the world at the time
of their cover appearance.
This study sought to determine if the rise in tennis popularity was due to the
increased of sex appeal by the athletes on the covers of TENNIS Magazine. The
researcher used a content analysis method to code the covers of TENNIS Magazine to see
if there was a correlation between the year of the magazine's publication and the amount
of sexual coverage given to an athlete. Through the use of content analysis, the
researcher could answer the research questions listed in the previous chapter.
Content analysis, a method that involves the quantifying of certain elements in a
photograph and in text, was used as a means of data collection to answer the research
questions/hypotheses. According to Wimmer and Dominick's textbook Mass Media
Research, An Introduction (2003), content analysis is defined as:
A method of studying and analyzing communication in a systematic, objective and
quantitative manner for the purpose of measuring variables. First, content analysis
is systematic. This means that the content to be analyzed is selected according to
explicit and consistently applied rules: Sample selection must follow proper
procedures, and each item must have an equal chance of being included in the
analysis ... There must be uniformity in the coding and analysis procedures and in
the length of time coders are exposed to the material." (p. 141)
Second, content analysis is objective, that is researcher's personal idiosyncrasies
and biases should not enter into the findings. If replicated by another researcher,
the analysis should yield the same results. Third, content analysis is quantitative.
The goal of content analysis is the accurate representation of a body of messages.
Quantification is important in fulfilling that objective, because it aids researchers in
the quest for precision ... Additionally, quantification allows researchers to
summarize results and to report them succinctly. Finally, quantification gives the
researchers additional statistical tools that can aid in interpretation and analysis.
(Wimmer & Dominick, 2003, p. 141)
The Coding Instrument
A recording instrument was designed to analyze the photographs. The instrument
in this study was adapted from the coding instrument used by Hardin, Dodd, and
Chance's (2004) study of race in newspaper coverage of the 2000 Olympic Games and
modified to correspond with this study. The next step in this study was to construct the
categories of content to be analyzed. After carefully studying the research questions,
looking at different sports magazines, and examining past research in the literature
review, the researcher assigned variables to the different elements of the magazine cover
photography on TENNIS.
The recording instrument (See Appendix A) was generated to code the cover
images using the following categorical variables: (a) month of the magazine; (b) year of
the magazine; (c) gender of the cover image (male, female, both, neither or cannot tell);
(d) motion of the image (active or passive); (e) amount of clothing worn by the male
(fully-clothed, legs exposed, stomach exposed, shirtless or cannot tell); (f) amount of
clothing worn by the females (fully clothed, legs exposed, stomach exposed, 25% or
more of breast shown or cannot tell); (g) what type of clothing the image was wearing
(tennis clothes, non-tennis clothes or cannot tell); (h) the passive posture of the image
(posed portrait-like, posed with arms crossed or hands on hips, posed somewhat
suggestive, posed suggestive, posed explicitly implying sex, or cannot tell); (i) the facial
expression of the image (smile, raised eyebrow, parted lips, provocative look, serious
face, teeth clenched, biting lip or cannot tell); (See Appendix A and B for codebook and
The category of "Cannot Tell" was used when the coders could not ascertain the
gender of the image, how much clothing the image was wearing, the posture of the image
and the facial expression of the image. This category was rarely used. The category of
"Both" was used when both a male and female tennis player were pictured on the cover
of TENNIS. The category of "Neither" was used when neither a man nor woman
appeared on the cover. This category occurred rarely, but when it did, tennis racquets
were the cover photographs replacing a male or female cover image.
Before the coding of TENNIS Magazine could begin, the researcher recruited and
trained another graduate student who had taken Research Methods. Intercoder reliability
is defined by Wimmer and Dominick (2003) as the degree of agreement between or
among independent coders. "A study is reliable when repeated measurement of the same
materials results in similar decisions or conclusions. If the results fail to achieve
reliability, something is amiss with the coders, the coding instructions, the category
definitions, the unit of analysis or some combination of these" (Wimmer & Dominick,
2003, p. 156).
The researcher and the other coder coded the covers of three different tennis-related
publications and discussed their findings in great detail. They talked about each variable,
so they could be sure that the variables were clearly defined. The publications used in the
pilot study were Tennis Week magazine, March 22, 2005, Tennis Life magazine, Feb.
2005, and Deuce magazine, Spring 2005, which each had one photograph featured on
their covers. After the three issues with three cover photographs were coded, the
researcher and the graduate student coder compared their findings and found that they
were 100% consistent.
Next, the coders began coding the 80 photographs featured on the 50 covers of
TENNIS Magazine from 2000 to 2004. The reason for the great disparity of 80
photographs on 50 covers was because the December/January 2000 issue of TENNIS was
an anniversary/special collector's edition issue that had a montage of 20 photographs on
the cover. The other coder coded 10 covers, two from each year of the study, with 11
photographs featured to contribute to this study. After all of the coding was completed,
the researcher found that the there was 93.75% reliability for the study.
A qualitative analysis was used to examine the coverlines, or phrases on the cover
of a publication, to find out if the wording on magazine covers had changed from
conservative to a more sexual approach in the five years studied. Wimmer and Dominick
(2003) define qualitative analysis as a "flexible questioning approach." Qualitative
research comes in a variety of forms, such as notes made while observing in the field,
interview transcripts, documents, diaries, and journals (p. 111).
The researcher looked at the 50 magazine covers and wrote down the words that
seemed to introduce sexual innuendo in the mind of the reader. There were many key
sexual words found by the researcher (i.e. wild, hot, one last fling, intimate). After
looking at all 50 covers, the researcher categorized the words by the year in which they
appeared on the cover to see if the wording of coverlines became more sexual as the
years progressed. This process of qualitative analysis was also necessary to see if the
editors of TENNIS Magazine are using more non-tennis related coverlines to attract
Once the covers were coded, the researcher organized all of the data into an SPSS
table. An SPSS table is a table made of all the variables in the study, so that they can be
compared with one another. Each variable used in this study was inputted into SPSS, as
were the results of the coding conducted by the researcher and the graduate student coder.
Through the use of SPSS cross-tabulation, the researcher was able to determine if there
was a difference between each variable and successfully answer the research questions.
Eighty images of professional tennis athletes were featured on 50 covers of
TENNIS Magazine from 2000 to 2004. In this chapter, the findings of the content
analysis of this study will be presented.
Overall Representations of Males and Females
RQ 1: Was there a difference in the number of males versus the amount of females
on the covers?
TENNIS Magazine maintains to have a subscriber profile of 49.5% male and
50.5% female. Men outnumber women on the covers of TENNIS Magazine (Table 4-1).
Therefore, overall depictions of females on the cover of this particular publication are not
reflective of the number of female TENNIS Magazine subscribers. The table below (4-1)
shows that while men don't outnumber women by much, there is a difference in the total
number of men and women pictured on the covers. From 2000 to 2004 the overall
coverage of females on the covers has decreased in comparison with male cover
Table 4-1. Overall numeric representation of males and females from 2000 to 2004 on
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Total
Male 16 4 6 10 7 43
37.2% 9.3% 13.9 23.2% 16.3% 100%
Female 16 6 3 6 3 34
47.1% 17.6% 8.8% 17.6% 8.8% 100%
In regard to the percentages of men and women on the covers, in 2000 there was
equal representation of both genders on the cover of TENNIS (See Table 4-2). 2001
seemed to be the only year in which females outnumbered males on the covers. From
2002 to 2004, men were featured on covers almost 30% more often than women. The
reason for the 16 photographs of men and 16 photographs of women on the covers in
2000 was because the December/January issue of TENNIS was a special commemorative
anniversary issue, which featured a montage of photographs on the cover.
From 2000 to 2001, male and female coverage was comparable. But from 2002
to 2004, the coverage of women seemed to decline. In 2003 in particular, the reason for
the 10 photographs of males compared with the 6 photographs of females was because
two males were pictured together on one cover and three were pictured on another cover.
Table 4-2. Overall percentage representation of males and females from 2000 to 2004 on
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Male 16 4 6 10 7
50% 40% 66.6% 62.5% 70%
Female 16 6 3 6 3
50% 60% 33.3% 37.5% 30%
Total 32 10 9 16 10
100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Comparison of Active versus Passive
RO 2: Was there a difference in the photos regarding women versus men being
posed or active in the cover image?
An active pose in tennis was when a player was hitting the ball, serving the ball,
running, swinging a racquet, etc. A passive pose was considered to be smiling or
standing in a portrait-like posture. From 2000 to 2004, men were featured on the covers
with a higher percentage of active photographs. Men were portrayed in more active
photographs than women. Men were shown as active 79.1% of the time, while women
were shown as active 70.6%. (See Table 4-3)
An example of an active pose would be the October 2001 cover photograph of
Jan-Michael Gambill. In this photograph, Gambill is in motion, serving the tennis ball
during a practice session. A passive pose is shown in the April 2001 cover photograph of
Mary Pierce. On this cover, Pierce is shown standing, just posing and smiling at the
camera (See Appendix C, Figure A-2 and A-5).
Table 4-3. Comparison of active and passive males and females on the covers
Active Passive Total
Male 34 9 43
79.1% 20.9% 100%
Female 24 10 34
70.6% 29.4% 100%
Males and Females in Passive Posture
RQ 2: Was there a difference in the photos regarding women versus men being
posed or active in the cover image?
Passive posture was defined in five different levels in the code book (See
Appendix A). Level one was posed, in a portrait-like photograph; Level two was posed,
with arms crossed or hands on hips; Level three was posed somewhat suggestive in a
casual stance, not explicitly implying sex. The image may have been accentuating
cleavage or standing with legs apart. Level four was posed suggestively, intentionally
posing to suggest sensuality. The tennis player was sticking his or her chest out or
running fingers through his or her hair. Level five was posed explicitly, more action-
based sexual gestures. This meant tugging down on the top of any article of clothing.
When comparing men and women in posed photographs, women were depicted in
a more sexual manner. Women were posed in a somewhat suggestive way, not explicitly
implying sex, 5.9% of the time, while men were not pictured this way at all. Women
were posed suggestively, intentionally posing to suggest sensuality 8.8% of the time,
while men were not shown this way ever (See Table 4-4). One example was the 2004
cover image of Maria Sharapova (See Appendix C, Figure A-8). In this photograph,
Sharapova was standing with hips to one side and arms spread out holding a tennis ball.
She was looking at the camera in a seductive, serious manner, not smiling or laughing.
Men were posed with their arms crossed or hands on their hips 11.6% of the time,
while women were shown that way 2.9% of the time. Of the 43 photos of men, 79.1%
were of them in action and 20.9% were posed photographs. But the difference in the
posed photographs was 29.4% and 70.6% in action for the women. An example of a
male featured in a posed photograph would be the 2003 TENNIS cover of James Blake.
On this cover, Blake is standing, head turned to one side, with his arms crossed at his
waist. (See Appendix C, Figure A-7)
Table 4-4. Photo subjects in passive posture photographs
Not Posed, Posed Posed Posed Total
applicable portrait- with arms somewhat suggestively
like crossed or suggestive (intentionally
photograph hands on (not posing to
hips explicitly suggest
Male 34 4 5 0 0 43
79.1% 9.3% 11.6% .0% .0% 100%
Female 24 4 1 2 3 34
70.6% 11.8% 2.9% 5.9% 8.8% 100%
Male and Female Facial Expressions
RQ 3: Was there a difference in the photos regarding the emotion of male and
female players on the cover?
RQ 4: Was there a difference in the men versus women with regard to showing
more sexual portravals on the covers?
All of the individuals included in the photos were coded in terms of facial
expression. Men were shown smiling 11.6% of the time on the covers, while women
were shown smiling 35.3% of the time more than three times the percentage of men.
An example of someone smiling on the cover was the December 2000 cover of the
Williams' sisters (See Appendix C, Figure A-i). In this cover, the sisters are smiling in a
A combination category with regard to this variable means that either males or
females were expressing more than one of the facial expressions listed in the table. For
example, a photo subject could have a grunting, serious expression, while also clenching
their teeth. The category of 'cannot tell' in this variable means that the coders could not
tell from the photograph if the subject was conveying a facial expression because the
player was shown from the side in profile view or was not showing any facial expression
listed in the categories illustrated.
Another difference was in the intensity of the facial expressions of males and
females. Men were shown having this serious facial expression 69.8% of the time, while
women were only shown with this facial expression 50% of the time (See Table 4-5).
Table 4-5. Photo subjects' facial expressions
Smile Parted Provocative Grunting face/ Teeth Biting Cannot Combination Total
lips look serious/ clenched lip tell
Male 5 1 0 30 0 1 4 2 43
11.6% 2.3% .0% 69.8% .0% 2.3% 9.3% 4.7% 100%
Female 12 1 1 17 2 0 0 1 34
35.3% 2.9% 2.9% 50.0% 5.9% .0% .0% 2.9% 100%
Female Clothing Descriptions
RQ 4: Was there a difference in the men versus women with regard to showing
more sexual Dortravals on the covers?
RQ 5: Was there a difference in the men versus women with regard to a
provocative style of clothing on the covers?
Women are shown exposing some skin (legs, stomach, breasts) about 45% of the
time on the cover. Women's legs were included on the cover photography 23.5% of the
time, meaning that they were either wearing shorts or a shorter length skirt. Having a
stomach exposed meant that the women were pictured bearing some midriff. The 25% of
breast category meant that women were shown exposing the top portion of their breasts.
Women were pictured 14.7% of the time under the category of combination.
Combination in this table means that women were shown in more than one
category. For example, a photograph of a female tennis player could have both her legs
included in the photograph and her stomach exposed. Since this combination category's
percentage is quite high in comparison to the other categories it is implied that women
are exposing a great deal of skin on the covers.
An example of women exposing skin on the covers of TENNIS would be the May
2002 cover of the Williams' sisters. Both Venus and Serena were wearing skirts and
sleeveless tops. Serena is exposing her stomach and some of her chest, while Venus is
just exposing some of her chest. (See Appendix C, Figure A-6)
Table 4-6. Female clothing depictions
Fully Legs Stomach 25% or Combination Total
clothed included in exposed more of
photograph breast is
Female 19 8 1 1 5 34
55.9% 23.5% 2.9% 2.9% 14.7% 100%
Male Clothing Descriptions
RQ 4: Was there a difference in the men versus women with regard to showing
more sexual portrayals on the covers?
RQ 5: Was there a difference in the men versus women with regard to a
provocative style of clothing on the covers?
Not only women are being sexualized in the covers of TENNIS Magazine. Men's
legs were included in action photographs in the cover photograph 25.6% of the time, in
contrast to the women's 23.5%, the men's stomachs are exposed 9.3% of the time, while
the women's stomachs are shown 2.9% of the time. Men were featured shirtless 2.3%,
which for this study was the equivalent of the 25% or more of breast showing category
for women. These findings are overall comparable to those of women.
An example of a male on the cover of Tennis who is shown in a sexual manner
was the photo of Jan-Michael Gambill again. Gambill is pictured in action, serving, but
he was also featured without a shirt on. (See Appendix C, Figure A-5)
Table 4-7. Male clothing depictions
Fully Legs Stomach Shirtless Cannot Combination Total
clothed included in exposed tell
Male 23 11 4 1 1 3 43
53.5% 25.6% 9.3% 2.3% 2.3% 7.0% 100%
Tennis and Non-Tennis Related Clothing Comparisons
RQ 5: Was there a difference in the men versus women with regard to a
provocative style of clothing on the covers?
As illustrated in the codebook in Appendix A, non-tennis clothes were defined as
regular street clothes like jeans, khakis, sweaters, dresses and formal wear. Non-tennis
clothing was described as clothing one would not wear to play tennis. When comparing
tennis clothing and non-tennis clothing, it is apparent that the women are shown wearing
non-tennis clothing more often than the men. Men are featured wearing tennis clothes
88.4% of the time, while women just 79.4%. Women were featured in non-tennis clothes
20.6% of the time, while men were shown in that manner 7% of the time.
An example of this was a 2000/2001 TENNIS cover of The Williams sisters
dressed in obvious non-tennis related clothes, smiling for the camera. Serena was
pictured wearing a pink collared shirt, while Venus was shown in sleeveless half-
turtleneck shirt. (See Appendix C, Figure A-l)
The 'cannot tell' category in this variable means that the coders could not be
certain what the photo subject was wearing because the photograph may have been a mug
shot. A mug shot was defined as a photograph of just the face.
Table 4-8. Comparison of tennis and non-tennis related clothing between genders
Tennis clothes Non-tennis Cannot tell Total
Male 38 3 2 43
88.4% 7.0% 4.7% 100%
Female 27 7 0 34
79.4% 20.6% .0% 100%
This thesis posed five main research questions. The researcher found that the
results of this study were what she had anticipated. First, males outnumbered females on
the covers, but not by a great amount. Second, women were shown in active poses fewer
times than men. Third, they were also pictured smiling, in posed photographs more than
men. Fourth, men exposed less skin on the cover and when they did show skin, it was in
the process of an action shot. Finally, men were pictured in tennis-related clothing more
often than women.
DISCUSSION AND FUTURE RESEARCH
The current study found that on the covers of TENNIS Magazine from 2000 to
2004 women were underrepresented. Women were underrepresented by 11% when
compared to men, which means that their coverage is disproportionate to the number of
female subscribers to TENNIS Magazine. This difference of females to males on the
cover was surprising considering that tennis is a fairly gender neutral sport. While men
and women may be equitable in the number of covers in which they appear, they are not
at all equitable in the type of coverage they receive on these covers.
One would think that with the rise in popularity of Anna Kournikova, the Williams
sisters and Maria Sharapova in the past five years, the coverage would be in favor of the
women. Kournikova, who glamorized the sport of tennis, left the game in 2003. She
made women's tennis popular and exciting again by wearing tight tank tops and short
skirts. Tournaments were mobbed with boys and men, young and old, just to get a
glimpse of her. After her absence from the game, the sport needed a way to get the
The fact that women were found to be in more posed photographs on the covers is
not very unexpected. With women's tennis in an upswing during the time period of this
study, it was interesting to note that men were shown to be more active than women by
But, it is surprising that while coding the covers of TENNIS, the coders found that
men were shown in more emotional states than women. However, there was a significant
catch to this finding. Men were shown in emotional states, which were defined as a
serious or intense facial expression. In fact, there were 30 photographs that demonstrated
emotional states like this. Unlike previous studies that showed female athletes crying in
magazines and on the covers, TENNIS only conveys female emotions of happiness.
In the five years studied, there wasn't one photograph of a women crying, but there
were 12 photographs of women smiling for the camera. This great disparity in the
amount of women smiling on the covers could mean that since men are shown in more
active poses, they aren't smiling as much. But, it could also mean that women who are
portrayed in more posed photographs aren't really being shown as tennis players since
they are shown smiling on the covers of TENNIS. They start to look more like magazine
cover models than athletes, while the men continue to look like athletes at all times. With
all of the cover model poses on the covers of TENNIS from 2000 to 2004, the sport of
tennis, especially women's tennis, is presenting itself in a very sexual manner. If you
removed the heading TENNIS on the cover of the magazine, the average reader may
think they are looking at the cover of Cosmopolitan or Glamour magazine.
When women were posed on the covers of TENNIS, they were often portrayed in a
more sexual manner. Even though female athletes have proven their strength in sports
and their determination to win, they are still looked at as sexual objects. For example,
Appendix C illustrates some of the covers analyzed in this content analysis study. One
cover in particular shows the 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova. She is not
pictured in an athletic action shot or a photo that accentuates her physical prowess;
instead she is shown posing for the camera seductively, exposing her flat stomach and her
long, lean legs. With Sharapova being a Grand Slam Champion, she should be taken
more seriously than even her female counterparts.
Women were featured in non-tennis clothing more often than men. As shown in
the findings, women were pictured in non-tennis clothing 20% of the time, while men
were shown in that manner only 7% of the time. This would be another instance of men
being taken more seriously than women in the realm of sports. Men who are pictured in
full tennis attire show that they are actively engaging in their sport, regardless of if they
are posed or active. Even when men are posed in tennis attire, they still have serious
facial expressions and body language. But, women who are featured wearing non-tennis
clothing look more like tennis spokeswomen, instead of top-ranked female athletes. Non-
tennis clothing, or street clothes, makes it look like tennis is just secondary to cover
modeling for the women on the covers of TENNIS.
The coverlines in this study were analyzed qualitatively. The findings for this
research question were very intriguing. The coverlines in this study were examined by
taking the TENNIS covers and writing down any word or words that could be
misconstrued as having a sexual connotation. From 2000 to 2003, the use of sexual
words was minimal, ranging from two to four instances per year. Some of these words or
phrases on the covers from 2000 to 2003 were "one last fling", "she's all that ... and
more", "pretty face", and "the bod squad". But in 2004, the last year of the study, the
number of sexual words increased to seven. Words such as grunt, sizzler, sensation,
hottest, intimate and wild were components of coverlines featured on the covers of
TENNIS Magazine in 2004. This increase in sexual wording was a more creative way to
get the average reader interested in their publication, since TENNIS only has a newsstand
sale of 1.9% compared to the 98.1% of subscriber sales. Having words implying sexual
innuendo featured on the cover in coverlines, may entice the not-so-avid tennis fan to
stop and pick up TENNIS.
There are also practical reasons for some of the findings in this study. The
difference in action versus posed photographs may be because the publication alternates
the covers month to month. A reason for the amount of posed cover images for women
might be because the editors believe that eye contact with a potential reader is better than
non-eye contact. A potential reason for the Williams sisters posed so frequently on the
covers of TENNIS could be because at the time, they were very popular players and it
was difficult to get the two sisters in an action shot together.
This five-year study of TENNIS Magazine indicates to the researcher that tennis
was in competition with other popular sports and they resorted to other means to garner
attention. By showing women and men in a non-athletic, sexualized light, tennis was
trying to distinguish itself from other gender-neutral sports.
Suggestions for Future Research
Studying a magazine's cover gives insight into what editors are thinking when
choosing a cover image and what buyers are looking for in a publication. We already
know that loyal subscribers will keep subscribing regardless of what the magazine's
cover looks like. The purpose of the cover is to attract new readers to the publication.
It would be useful to conduct the same study, with a five-year period in the 1970s
and then the 80s to see if the coverage of male and female athletes has changed from
Since this year (2005) is the 40th anniversary of TENNIS Magazine, there are
numerous five-year periods that could be examined. By utilizing the same research
questions used in this study, another researcher could possibly find a larger trend in the
coverage of male and female athletes. The most appealing variables to be studied would
be the number of males and females on the covers, the posed versus active variable and
the tennis versus non-tennis clothing variable. These three variables could determine
how much TENNIS Magazine has morphed from the exposure of male and female
players in the 60s, 70s and 80s compared to today's coverage.
In fact, with this year (2005) being the 40th anniversary of Tennis, the editors and
publishers actually changed the look of the cover. The new cover for the first three issues
features only male and female players in action. The magazine's editors and publishers
changed the font and added a border around the cover as well. The change in the cover
could very well be because of the 40th anniversary, but it could also be due to a change in
the way readers and editors would like athletes portrayed on the covers.
Another study would be to interview the publisher as of March 2001, Chris Evert,
and see what impact, if any, she has had on the magazine's cover image. It is apparent
that she has not yet impacted the inside content of TENNIS, since their departments have
remained the same fitness, gear, travel, features and instruction. A study could be done
to see the difference between the cover images before she took over as publisher and
Future research could also be conducted with another sport. A study could be done
comparing Golf Magazine versus TENNIS Magazine to see if Golf Magazine's cover
images are shown more often in active or posed photographs. The findings of this study
could show that popular athletes in golf and tennis often transcend the actual sport. A
study could also be performed where a researcher finds out who exactly makes the
decisions regarding a magazine's cover image. Is it the photographer, the magazine
editor, the art director or someone else?
With tennis popularity on the rise and the advent of the Tennis Channel in July
2002, the sport of tennis has generated huge amounts of attention. The Tennis Channel
features daily news shows that "capitalize on the drawing power and sex appeal of this
new wave of tennis stars," said Bruce Rider, Tennis Channel executive vice president.
"Another show follows players off the court to places including 'the hottest night sports
around the world." These feature pieces play a major role in boosting non-hardcore fans'
interest in the game.
Conducting a study on the Tennis Channel to see if their ratings reflect the number
of tennis players and fans may also be important in clarifying what types of programs to
broadcast. One may assume that the Tennis Channel is only for devout tennis fans, but
this channel could also reach out to non-tennis players who are interested to learning how
to play the game or some who are just interested in following the popularity of a certain
player. If the Tennis Channel can prove to be an outlet for any type sports fan, perhaps
the fans would also be interested in subscribing or purchasing the number one magazine
for tennis fans, TENNIS Magazine. Since almost every sport has a television channel all
their own nowadays, constructing a study to see if the Tennis Channel has garnered more
attention for TENNIS Magazine would be another fascinating research project.
Another possible research project would be to see how the roles of sponsors and
agents affect a tennis player's career. A prime example was Anna Kournikova, who
received more money in sponsorships and endorsements from Adidas, Berlei, Yonex,
Omega, and Lycos than she ever did playing tennis. Another example is Venus
Williams, who is sponsored by Reebok. She meets with the company and designs her
very own, customized tennis outfits, which are later marketed and sold in retail stores.
Looking at other sports magazines and comparing their covers and to see which
publications are influencing each other and starting different trends in sports magazines
would be another study. Conducting interviews with the tennis players to see if they're
concerned with how they are presented on the covers of TENNIS may also give insight
into how much say the player has in his or her cover photograph. For instance, the
Williams sisters, who have been on the cover of TENNIS numerous times, probably have
more of a voice when it comes to what they want to wear and how they want to pose.
Whereas a player who is on the cover for the first time is more inclined to agree with the
editors and publishers decision for the cover photography.
Finally, a focus group with TENNIS Magazine subscribers would be another
study to conduct. TENNIS isn't a publication that one would find in the checkout aisles
of the grocery store. And since subscribers are 98.1% of the TENNIS population, their
opinion is very valuable to the success of TENNIS Magazine. The subscribers of
TENNIS probably don't pay much attention to the covers of the magazine when they get
it in the mail since most are primarily concerned with what's inside the magazine. But,
perhaps discussing the covers analyzed in this study in particular in a focus group may
bring to light certain issues in tennis and give the editors and publishers something to
think about for future changes.
An alternate focus group could also be conducted with TENNIS Magazine
subscribers by their skill levels as well. There could be three focus groups one for
beginners, one for intermediate and another for advanced players. This could help the
editors of TENNIS to see how the different playing levels of their subscribers contributes
to their interest in the different departments and the cover images of TENNIS Magazine.
TENNIS MAGAZINE CODEBOOK
TENNIS Magazine Codebook: Cover Photo Images
Instructions: Code each person in every photo separately. Do not code an individual if
the majority of his or her body is not visible in the photograph.
MON Indicate the issue of TENNIS Magazine (month)
YR Indicate the issue of TENNIS Magazine (year)
GEN Indicate whether you are coding a female or male subject in the photo. If
there is more than one person in the photo, code a line for each. In the
rare instance where you cannot be sure of gender, code that as such.
5 Cannot tell
MOT Indicate the motion of the subject in the photo.
0 Not appropriate
1 Active subject is in motion or in aposture that \,/,-e\t they are about to
take action. Examples. Athlete in competition, athlete talking, athlete
celebrating, coach watching from sideline.
2 Passive subject appears: 1. obviously posedfor the camera, or 2. is
motionless (sitting, resting, etc) or 3. is in a mug shot (from the neck
up/portrait-style). Example: Athlete resting, athlete standing still, mug shot
where the person is in a posed position, shot of aihlete .i taling in ith ball.
MALE CLOTHING Indicate how much clothing the male in the photograph is
showing on the cover. If more than one condition applies
list all numbers that appear. For example, if a player, fan
or coach's legs and stomach are shown, code both numbers
2 and 3.
0 Not applicable
1 Player is fully clothed, wearing long or short sleeves, not exposing any
scandalous body part (warm-up suits or sweats)
2 Legs included in photograph
3 Stomach exposed
5 Cannot tell
FEMALE CLOTHING Indicate how much clothing the female in the
photograph is showing on the cover. If more than
one condition applies list all numbers that appear.
For example, if a player, fan or coach's legs and
stomach are shown, code both numbers 2 and 3.
0 Not applicable
1 Player is fully clothed, wearing long or short sleeves, not exposing any
scandalous body part. (warm-up suits or sweats)
2 Legs included in photograph
3 Stomach exposed
4 25% or more of breast is shown
5 Cannot tell
Indicate if a player/fan/coach is wearing either tennis clothing or
non-tennis related clothing.
0 Not applicable
1 Tennis clothes Tennis dress, skirt, shirts, shorts, sneakers and socks
2 Non-tennis clothes Regular street clothes (jeans, sweaters, dresses,
3 Cannot tell
POS If player/coach/fan is not in an action pose, code their passive posture in
0 Not applicable
1 Level 1 Posed, portrait-like photograph
2 Level 2 Posed; with arms crossed or hands on hips
3 Level 3 Somewhat suggestive (casual stance, not explicitly implying sex):
Accentuating cleavage or standing with legs apart
4 Level 4 Suggestive (intentionally posing to suggest sensuality): Player is
sticking chest out or running fingers through hair
5 Level 5 Explicit (more action-based sexual gestures): Tugging down on
top of any article of clothing
6 Cannot tell
FAC Indicate the facial expression of the player/coach/fan. If more than
one condition applies list all numbers that appear. For example, if
a player/coach/fan is raising an eyebrow and parting lips, code
both numbers 2 and 3.
0 Not appropriate
2 Raised eyebrow
3 Parted lips
4 Provocative look
5 Grunting face/serious/intense
6 Teeth clenched
7 Biting lip
8 Cannot tell
TENNIS MAGAZINE CODE SHEET
TENNIS Magazine Code Sheet: Photos Coder:
MON YR GEN MOT MAL CLOTH FEM CLOTH CLOTH
TENNIS MAGAZINE EXAMPLE COVERS
06/87/2885 18:45 2126362738
Jun 07 05 11:17a
Letter of Permiimio to Quott er Reproduce Copyrited Materil
PERMISSION TO QUOTE/REPRODUCE COP RHTED MATERIAL
1 (We). \ g owncrs(s) of the copyright of
the wrk knownaTENNIS ain
hcriby autlhorc JjEQica A. GoldScn o u the th following material as part of
his/her thcsis/disrtation to be submiWd to the Univerity o Forida.
0 The 50 issues of TENNIS Magzine from 2000 to 2004 to be used for content
SEight issue of the 50 issues of TENNIS Magapn: from 2000 to 2004 to be
fcatured in the Appendix of ethe thsi as =eampte covers.
M( 4 1% -
Sip Copyright Holder
I enc~u r
Figure C-1. This cover illustrates how the magazine uses the posed, portrait-like
photograph, instead of an active shot. It also shows the Williams' sisters in
non-tennis clothing. ( Photo by Peter Brew-Bevan/HeadPress PTY LTD)
el", I II
,, j i', ,$
figure C-2. ilis cover photograph shows Mary Pierce smiling, posed, in non-tennis
related clothing. ( Photo by Simko/Winston West)
U$Byica SN iRcun Ik 50
Figure C-3. This cover shows Martina Hingis in an action shot. It is one of the few
covers examined in this study that illustrates a woman in action, while also
wearing tennis clothing. ( Photo by Adam Pretty/AllSport)
..... f 1. .
Figure C-4. This cover image shows Patrick Rafter's stomach exposed, while tearing off
his shirt after a match. The coverline "One Last Fling" also insinuates
something of sexual nature. ( Photo by Clive Brunskill/AllSport)
figure IC-. thls cover shows Jan-Milchael Uambill in action, but shirtless. It illustrates
that even though he is a male in action, he is still being portrayed as a sex
symbol, instead of a tennis player. ( Photo by Chris Trotman/Duomo)
Brad Gilbert Plays Defense P Getting Into the Game After 40
RING OUT WITH
US S39WCANM A .99rUK 1250 SO -
-lSi SE ENEREA
Figure C-6. This cover image of the Williams' sisters shows them posed, in non-tennis
related clothing, looking sexy. The coverline "Bod Squad" also implies that
the reader should be focused on the Williams' bodies, not their tennis talent.
( Photo by George Holz/Corbis Outline)
U L5 Lk J
The Quiet American
By Thomas Hackett
US 3.s/CAN $4.W/UK /E50
I I 1 ill
Figure C-7. This cover photograph of James Blake shows him posed, with arms crossed.
An arms crossed pose illustrates is a more dominant pose than the female
cover model poses shown in this appendix. ( Photo by Susan
Mullane/CAMERAWORK USA, INC)
J _" j j _' 1..'i- 1\J -/' j
:"DkENSA' M E
Figure C-8. This cover photo of Maria Sharapova shows her in tennis-related clothing,
but she is posed with her hair down and midriff exposed looking at the camera
in a provocative manner. ( Photo by Blake Little)
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Jessica Ashleigh Goldstein was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, on June 27,
1981. Her dad Marc, a U.S.P.T.A. tennis instructor, taught her to play tennis when she
was 3 years old. Jessica went undefeated on her tennis team junior and senior year of
high school and won all-county honors. She also played in a few U.S.T.A. junior
tournaments throughout high school. Jessica got her first subscription to TENNIS
Magazine when she was 14 years old and has been an avid reader ever since.
Growing up, Jessica always showed a passion for creativity and writing. She
joined her high school yearbook staff during her sophomore year and absolutely fell in
love with journalism. She became the editor-in-chief of Precedent 1999, the largest
yearbook her high school had ever produced to this day.
Throughout college, Jessica interned at many prestigious publications Palm
Beach Illustrated magazine, Palm Beach Society and Oxendine Publishing Company.
Jessica graduated the University of Florida with an undergraduate degree in magazine
journalism and a minor in sociology in 2003. Jessica began her graduate study of mass
communication at UF in the fall of 2003. She graduated in August 2005 with a Master of
Arts in Mass Communication.