Representation of sportswomen
in the media

Stefan Lazarevic, Serbia

The very development of sports competitions led to the emergence of new types of sports, some of which were given the title of “women’s sports”, something like volleyball, while most others remained under the “men’s” category. Again, many would say that only time will manage to regulate it, but the situation actually took two steps back instead of a step forward.

The problem of women’s sports is most noticeable in examples from world-famous sports such as football and basketball, where ladies suffer harassment for a good part of the time. Simply, the fans look at them as an object of lust, with various throws from the stands they destroy any desire of the girls to compete for something more.

However, the fact that during the year 2022 the most watched football matches are those in which women participated, in itself creates a sense of freedom for girls who just want to do what they want. To engage in what fulfills them and provides the opportunity to enjoy the audience that gathers at the stadium.

It is a fact of human nature that lust and various impulses can and to a good extent know how to confuse reason. When certain external influences are added to that, the image of the average person goes to extremes, disappears and only one distorted reality is born from everything, which is not good at all when it comes to some more delicate things.

Sportswomen are predominantly good-looking, due to the “nature of the job”, which is a certain burden. Exactly, when it comes to this type of problem, a certain amount of blame is also borne by the media, which more often contributes to the fact that women are viewed in an extremely sexist way.

If one were to pay attention to the articles in the media, there would hardly be a story about how a girl achieved success without pictures of her on the beach, in a bikini, or the like, which only adds to that sexist way of looking at her.

Of course, it would be cruel to mention only Serbia in this case, since the nurseries of such things are also found in numerous other countries and media, they are even more prevalent than what is happening in our country. Leading among them all is the British tabloid “San”, which has a complete list of content based on just such texts.

In addition to “San”, and if we touch on the area close to ours, the Bulgarian “Sportal” also has a column that exclusively concerns images of somewhat more explicit content, and in which there are mostly female athletes or cheerleaders.

The increasingly frequent occurrence in the media through sexism has “awakened” in the people exactly the drive mentioned above, which only had a bad effect on female athletes who have to suffer certain problems because of it. One rebelled, and it was the Croatian soccer player, Ana Marija Marković.

Ana Maria left the Balkans when she was young, now she plays for the Swiss Grasshopper, but also for the Croatian national team, while she is also considered one of the most beautiful soccer players in the world, side by side with the now “famous” Alisha Lehmann. However, Marković does not like this epithet at all, and moreover, it harms her career.

Of course, the media are the ones who gave her this epithet, but instead of a positive reaction, all they got was a criticism from Marković, who also touched on this topic in an interview for the German media.

– Newspaper articles appeared in which I was described as the sexiest soccer player. I didn’t like that. Also, because of my family. I think you have to be careful what you write about people. Especially if you have those who don’t even know you. But overall, it wasn’t that bad. After that, many people contacted me pretending to be managers, and I know exactly what they want from me – said this soccer player.

Apart from such things, Alisha Lehmann also claimed that people came to watch her in training, but not because of her soccer qualities, as well as the qualities of her teammates, but because of various shouts from the stands that contained a sexual connotation that was not pleasant at all.

The behavior of the fans, as well as the media, does not bring good, on the contrary, it brings a lot of weakness, it can cause a loss of focus in sportswomen, but it can also lead to much worse things that could bring some irreversible consequences.

It must be admitted that to a certain extent they also create problems for themselves and lead people to observe them in exactly the above-mentioned ways, of course, it would be rough to put all women in the same basket. There are differences, obvious differences, only someone wants to get to the “stars” by a shortcut.

The development of the Internet and the appearance of various platforms that serve for self-promotion, especially self-promotion of the body, from which they can make money. This item may also concern the fact that women’s sports are paid much less than men’s, however, this cannot be an excuse.

With the emergence of the “OnlyFans” social network, which is used for posting explicit images and videos, certain female athletes saw an opportunity for additional income. In this, those people who were mainly involved in martial arts are leading the way, only to get fired from their organizations because of their appearance on this social network.

However, the amount of money earned on a monthly basis from such content is quite enough to live on. Apart from them, there is also the example of Ebony Jones, a boxer who enjoys going to measurements before fights in her negligee, which is how she gains the main popularity, and therefore, even though she is an exceptional boxer, she remains “noticeable” in some other ways.

The latest example also comes from Serbia, where Milica Dabović, now a former basketball player and at the same time winner of numerous medals for the national team, decided to expose her body on the social network “OnlyFans”, where she simply charges for her pictures at a price of 15 dollars monthly.

Unfortunately (and somewhat fortunately), women’s sports in Serbia have not yet reached a sufficiently high level of development; simply, this is mostly reflected in the audience watching football, basketball or volleyball matches.

In the previous year 2022, on the team level, Serbia managed to defend its honor only in women’s volleyball, where the national team took home the gold medal from the World Championship. Only then could you see a certain number of fans and audience in front of the balcony of the assembly, where they were welcomed. Also, 2022 brought two young athletes, Angelina Topić and Adriana Vilagoš, who managed to bring medals from the senior competition, even though they are only 17 and 18 years old.

In addition to them, there is also Jelena Janićijević, who became the champion of Europe in boxing, and Emilija Antanasijević, the European and world champion in karate. All this was achieved by female athletes who defend the colors of the women’s sport flag, but who do not get enough space in the media.

In other words, they got space, but not as much as they deserve and in the way they should. If you pay attention to the titles of the texts in the case of Emilia, then the epithet “the most beautiful” or similar will appear in a large number of texts, as well as several of her photos. It is enough to check these claims on the website “”, considering that in the course of 2022, within just one month, Emilia received three texts and in all three she was presented as “fatal, beautiful, the most beautiful” and along with various other epithets. For example, Slobodan Bitević, a champion in karate, in one way receives texts, where he is ultimately portrayed through the prism of sports while in the case of Emilia, who is from the same sport, it is shown in completely different, eroticized, ways.

When it comes to team sports, women’s soccer is in a deep groove and hardly anyone even thinks about  it. Even the Football Association of Serbia recently showed how much it “thinks” of the women’s section, since the clubs from the First League only received 10,000 euros for the whole year, which is miserable.

Honestly, Serbia has not yet reached the level like other countries where sportswomen are exclusively followed through their pictures and posts on social networks, but it is also not untrue that it is far from that.

If someone wanted to solve this problem, then they would have to roll up their sleeves and deal with matters that concern exclusively the existence of women’s sports. Namely, first of all, expansion would have to be achieved, to a certain number of audiences who will follow the events of women’s teams and clubs on a daily basis.

That’s where the first thing starts, because just because the audience comes, it means that the texts will be read to a greater extent in the media. Unfortunately, today’s media functions according to the “just make it clickable” system. If something doesn’t go over well with the audience, the interest focused on it immediately disappears.

That would be the first solution in this case, while the second would have to be dealt with by associations and clubs. In order to avoid the above-mentioned problem with self-promotion on debatable social networks, the salaries of female athletes, as well as the awards, would have to become significantly higher.

As mentioned above, with examples from the media, it can be clearly seen in what way and how girls are observed in the world of sports and on portals and in newspapers. Sometimes even that “click” is very valuable for the journalist himself, so he doesn’t choose the way to get it, and that’s why there can be a large number of more explicit photos of certain sportswomen, even though they primarily deserved to be there due to their success.

Women are athletes, not objects.

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