Nelly predicts bright future in netball, Daily News

Date: January 1, 1970
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A young woman, who was named the ?Most Valuable Player of the Mainland First Division Netball League?, talks about her future in netball and the development of the sport in Tanzania.
A young woman, who was named the ?Most Valuable Player of the Mainland First Division Netball League?, talks about her future in netball and the development of the sport in Tanzania.

This story may used to:
  • Discuss a positive example of the portrayal of women in sports.
  •  Highlight the need for gender balance in sources

Trainer’s notes

Portrayal of women in sports

Sport comprises about 20 percent of the media’s content in the region. Media managers assume that sports attracts a larger audience of men than women, so the majority of the sports reporters are men, and the sports stories are largely about male athletes.
International sportswomen get a large amount of coverage on sports pages in the region as compared to women in sports within countries. The news value of prominence keeps women like Venus and Serena Williams, for example, on the sports agenda of the region’s media. Less attention is given to women’s sports at the national or regional level by the media, and a full page profile of a sportswoman, such as this case study on a woman netballer are few and not frequent.


The only voices in the story are of women. Nelly, who is profiled, and her coach, also a woman, are the two sources. It is important to assess whether journalists have sourced women and no men in this story, because netball is stereotyped as a ‘woman’s game’. Because women in sports seldom features on the media’s agenda, subtle gender prejudices and biases can slip into a story which, is overall a positive portrayal of a sports woman.

This bias is illustrated by the sources chosen—if the sources are all men, the media conveys the message that only men can speak about sports, even when women are the athletes; and when the sources are all women, this may be a subtle message that the media has tagged the sport as a ‘women’s issue’.

Note that one of the issues the woman netballer raises in the story is how netball does not have “sponsors like football and other sports, yet our performance has been outstanding…” This is one indication that sports played mainly by women do not receive the same financial and other support as those dominated by men.

 Gender aware reporting

While the story does not have a diversity of women and men sources, it does give a holistic portrayal of a woman who excels in the field of sports. The images, headline and captions help to package the total image of Nelly who is one of the leading scorers in her league.

The story uses gender neutral language and steers clear from physically describing Nelly or tagging her identity to a man. Some of the adjectives and phrases used to describe her include: cool-minded, agile, able, plays aggressively without flouting the rules, and a pivotal player.

Nelly comes across as an active and independent woman in the piece without being stereotyped as a ‘superwoman’. The profiles gives a realistic and holistic picture of her achievement as a sportswoman.


The story has several grammatical errors and the editing style is inconsistent—eg on the full name of sources is given on first reference, but in the case of Nelly, she is referred to by her first name on every reference after the first, while the coach is referred to by her last name. The article can be re-edited to tighten the language and correct the stylistic and grammatical errors.

Training exercises:
Exercise one: Portrayal of women in sports
Make presentations on the following:
  1. What sports stories do women feature in on the sports pages of newspapers? List the sports.

  2. Which of the sports listed, which ones feature both women and men? Which ones feature women only?

  3. Are the sports played by women considered as ‘serious’ stories by the media? Why or why not?

  4. What general message is conveyed by the media about women in sports?
Exercise two: Gender aware reporting
Refer to the case study and discuss the following:
  1. Does the story reflect a holistic and realistic view of women?

  2. Has a gender lens been used on the issue? Why or why not?

  3. What messages are conveyed in the article about the role of women in sports?

  4. Is this story interesting? Why or why not?

  5. Why do stories like this not appear often in the media?
Exercise three: Sources
  1. Who are the sources in the story?

  2. Why do you think only women are accessed in this story?

  3. What message does this convey?




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