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Handbook on the Economics of Women in Sports

Handbook on the Economics of Women in Sports

Elgar original reference

Edited by Eva Marikova Leeds and Michael A. Leeds

Women’s sports have received much less attention from economists than from other social scientists. This Handbook fills that gap with a comprehensive economic analysis of women’s sports. It also analyzes how the behavior and treatment of female athletes reflect broad economic forces.

Chapter 19: Media coverage and pay in women’s basketball and netball in Australia

Ross Booth

Subjects: economics and finance, sports


Women’s sport in Australia does not receive the same amount of media coverage or the same sponsorship levels as men’s sport. The low coverage stems from what Jobling calls ‘the circular problem’ of sponsorship and popularity. Because potential sponsors see low turnout and little reward, they have little reason to support women’s sports. The lack of sponsorship, in turn, limits the media coverage of the sport and depresses attendance and viewership (Jobling, 1994: 169). As a result, despite achievements on the international stage that often outshine those of Australian men, Australian women frequently toil in relative obscurity and receive pay that is a small fraction of that earned by men in the same sport. Unlike most countries, Australia has two counterparts to men’s basketball: women’s basketball and netball. Today, women’s basketball is essentially identical to the men’s version of the game. The most noticeable difference is that women use a slightly smaller ball to facilitate ball handling and shooting. For most of its history, however, women’s basketball bore little resemblance to men’s basketball. This version of the game quickly died in most countries – particularly in the United States – after men’s rules became the norm in the early 1970s. In the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly the British Commonwealth), however, the distinctly female version of the sport, known as ‘netball’, has continued to thrive.

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