Athletes

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Most newspapers’ front page images showed athletes either performing during their game or after winning. Few images showed athletes losing. Front page images with only male athletes were twice as many as images with female athletes. Less than one fifth of images showed both female and male athletes. Different regions differed dramatically in their portrayal of athletes in front page images. China presented the highest percentage of winning athletes in front page images, while Africa had the lowest. The Arabic world had the highest proportion of male-only to female-only images and virtually no images with both genders. Africa was the only region to have more female-only images than male-only images, and China had the highest percentage of images with both genders.

Chart 3.1 shows athletes in front page photos predominantly either portrayed as winning (38%) or shown during their game performance (36%). Only 6% of front page images showed athletes losing and 20% showed them doing other things, for instance in press conferences or during the opening ceremonies.


Chart 3.1


According to chart 3.2, front page images showing only male athletes (38%) were twice as many as front page images showing only female athletes (18%), while 17% of the images showed both male and female athletes.

Chart 3.2


When the results were compared across regions, the portrayal of athletes in front page images varied considerably, especially in the percentage of images showing athletes winning or performing. In addition, images of athletes winning seemed to be negatively correlated with the images of athletes performing while the percentage of images showing athletes losing remained constantly low across the board. In other words, the higher the percentage of front page images showing athletes winning, the lower the percentage of images showing athletes performing, and vice versa.

African front pages had the highest percentage of front page images showing athletes performing (45%) and the lowest percentage of images showing athletes winning (10%). Latin America had the second highest percentage of images showing athletes performing (41%) and the second lowest percentage of images showing athletes winning (28%). Following in line, 31% of the EU-US front page images showed athletes performing, and 36% showed them winning. Then, 31% of other Asian countries’ front page images showed athletes performing, and 45% showed them winning. Chinese front page images had the second lowest percentage of performing images (29%) and the highest percentage of winning images (55%), while the Arabic world had the lowest percentage of performing images (29%) but—breaking the trend slightly—only 29% of its front page images showed athletes winning.


Chart 3.5


When it came to the gender of the athletes in the images, the Arabic world and other Asian countries had the highest percentage of male-only images on their front pages, while Africa was the only region to have more female-only images than male-only images on its front pages. In addition, China was the only country to predominantly show in its front page images both males and females, and the images showing one gender only almost tied.

The Arabic world not only had the highest level male-only front page images (49%), but also the lowest percentage of female only images (9%) and no front page images showing both male and female athletes. Also, 49% of other Asian countries’ front page images showed only male athletes, but 16% of its images showed male athletes and 18% showed both. 44% of Latin American front page images showed only males, while 25% of the images showed only females, and 12% showed both. In the EU-US region, 41% of images showed only males, while 14% of the images showed only females, and 11% showed both. Chinese male-only images stood at 21% and the female-only images at 19%, while images showing both genders went up to 33%. Africa had 17% of its images show male athletes only, and 28% show female athletes only, while 21% showed both.



Chart 3.6


See how much prominence the 2008 Olympics received globally.