In 2009, more than 23 million sports fans attended a professional basketball game. But fans evinced significantly greater interest in the men’s NBA, which captured 92.3 percent (21.39 million) of the total attendance, while women’s professional basketball (WNBA) attracted only 7.7 percent of the total number of basketball fans (1.77 million, see chart above). In other words, 12 basketball fans attended an NBA game in 2009 for every one fan that attended a WNBA game.
Given the fact that fan interest in men’s basketball was 12 times greater than for women’s basketball, wouldn’t it be natural to expect that media coverage for the NBA would be much greater than for the WNBA? Well, that’s exactly what a recent study by the Center for Feminist Research (University of Southern California) found in its study “Gender in Televised Sports"—the NBA got greater media coverage in 2009 than the WNBA, by a factor of 3.5 to 1 (see chart).
You would think the sports feminists would be thrilled. After all, the WNBA got only 7.7 percent of the attendance at professional basketball games in 2009, but women’s basketball received a disproportionately larger share of the media coverage, at 22.2 percent of the total. Therefore, using attendance as a direct measure of fan interest, men’s pro basketball was significantly under-reported by the media (it got 92 percent of total attendance but only got 78 percent of media coverage), and women’s pro basketball was significantly over-reported (it had 7.7 percent of attendance, but got almost three times that share of media coverage).
But the sports feminists and gender activists aren't thrilled at all, they're actually really upset. Find out why here.