Sport & Society International Award for Excellence

The International Journal of Sport and Society offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Sport & Society Research Network.

Award Winner for Volume 9

Female Athletes, Olympic, and Non-Olympic Online Sports Coverage in Australia: Raising the Bar or Performing below Par?

Sports media research often highlights the significant under-representation of female athletes. However, very little research in this area has focused on online sports media coverage. This study investigated the quantity and quality of media coverage received by Australian female athletes during the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in August 2016. The current study provides an analysis of three major Australian newspapers’ online versions and offers a valuable comparison to Litchfield and Osborne’s study on print versions of the same publications during Olympic years. This study investigates a simultaneous “raising of the bar” and “performing below par” of the Australian sports media in relation to a focus on female athletes during this period of time. Although there were a number of traditional narratives surrounding female representation in sports stories found, there were also some significant differences between online and print media related research in this area.


The representations of women athletes in traditional media spaces have been an area of enquiry that has attracted a plethora of academic interest since the 1980s. However, online and social media spaces provide a new platform for such enquiries. This research paper was one of several deriving from a larger study that investigated the quantity and quality of media coverage received by female athletes at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. This research was one of the first pieces of research that focused on Australian female athletes and online media. This particular research paper showed that while there are some real positives for gender equality in sports reporting in online spaces, there are also spaces where there was not equal or fair gendered sports coverage (such as photographs and non-Olympic reporting). Additionally, the Olympic Games event provides only a short period of time where regular and respectful coverage for female athletes is present in the sports media in Australia and this does not reflect what sports reporting may look like when the Games have finished. This type of research remains critical to developing an understanding of how women fit in the world of sport, particularly in the online space of sports coverage.

Chelsea Litchfield

Past Award Winners

Volume 8

Boys Will Be Boys: Assessing Attitudes of Athletic Officials on Sexism and Violence against Women

Dessie Clark, The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp. 1–11


Volume 7

The Rink and the Stage: Melodrama, Media, and Canadian Hockey

Taylor McKee, The International Journal of Sport and Society: Annual Review, Volume 7, pp. 1–11


Volume 6

Australian Football, Masculinity, and the Acceptance of Pain and Injury as a Career “Norm”

Deborah Agnew and Murray J. N. Drummond, The International Journal of Sport and Society: Annual Review, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.9–23


Volume 5

Athletes with Disabilities: Where Does Empowerment End and Disempowerment Begin?

Deborah L. Rivel, The International Journal of Sport and Society: Annual Review, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.1–10


Volume 4

Discourses of Social Exclusion in British Tennis: Historical Changes and Continuities

Robert Lake, The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, 1–11


Volume 3

Black, White and Read All Over: Institutional Racism and the Sports Media

John Price, Neil Farrington, Daniel Kilvington, and Amir Saeed, The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 3, Issue 2, 81–90


Volume 2

Older Athletes’ Perceived Benefits of Competition

Rylee A. Dionigi, Joseph Baker, and Sean Horton, The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 2, Issue 2, 17–28


Volume 1

And the Crowd Goes Wild: Fan Participation as Epideictic Rhetoric

Jeremy Schnieder, The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 1, Issue 1, 253–62