Sports, Communication, Culture: The Issues Of Sexual Objectification, Gender Inequality, And Stereotyping In Cricket Broadcasts
In this essay, I will analyze two different cricket broadcasts which are as follows:
- 1st Match: India Vs Pakistan 3rd One day International (2013)
- 2nd Match: India Vs Pakistan Asia Cup 4th Match (2010)
Ever since the partition of Pakistan from India on 15th August, 1947, there has been a never-ending rivalry between India and Pakistan. It has been termed as one of the most extreme and intensified sport rivalries in the world. Cricket in both the nations is viewed as a religion, not just as a sport. Citizens have since seen Cricket as a form of battle between the two countries each trying to prove their superiority over the other. It’s become an obsession and the constant tension between the two nations makes it even more exciting. The broadcast represents arch-nemesis between the nations, India and Pakistan in cricket.
There is a constant political and economic tension between the countries, cricket is seen as the only form of diplomacy between the two countries. Cricket is an emotion in India, it plays an important role in bringing people together, it targets not just the public and the fans, but the brands, the advertisers, each and every one believes that it is a sure bet. Brands use cricket to establish themselves, and reach a wider consumer base. It is one of the most efficient ways to market products as people from all age-groups watch cricket, this invites brands and advertisers to market their products even at huge costs.
Impact of Media Coverage and Media Campaigns
With the fury between the nations, media houses play a very negative role by adding fuel to the fire while the diplomacy is looking for solutions to solve these ongoing issues. Bleed Blue Campaign by Nike India was launched to celebrate the passion of cricket in India. The color blue is used to symbolize the unity and the aspirations of the citizens of India. The focus of the campaign was to create a strong bond of love, sportsmanship and respect for cricket and its players. A major advantage for the brand was that they started the camping prior to the matches. This helped them create a hype before the match itself, which was a huge success on the days leading to the matches.
Similarly, Pepsi launched an advertisement in Pakistan, the main idea was to highlight team unity and sportsmanship. Through the advertisement a popular Pakistani cricketer showcases the match as a fight for freedom. This shows how provocative advertising increases hate between citizens of both the countries.
There are a lot of stereotyping present in the media coverage of cricket, India has developed a reputation of sportsmanship and class over the years. India has been an overall performer in the sport. While, Pakistan on the other hand is perceived as an arch-rival of India, they are known to produce excellent fast bowlers though they have a reputation of losing matches to India.
In both the matches a constant theme of sportsmanship and team spirit have been highlighted in the broadcast. Indian players, despite getting run-out still had a positive outlook and were still seen playing the game whole-heartedly, whereas, the Pakistani players were seen acting out in aggression and anger when they missed to eliminate a player. India showcased a positive team spirit throughout the match, even when players missed various catches the Captain of the team kept on encouraging them, while in contrast, the Captain of the Pakistani cricket team was seen yelling at his team players. Even during the end of the game, when India won the match, the Indian players acted gracefully and shook hands of their opponents. While, some of the Pakistani players reciprocated with a handshake but not all were so considerate.
Similarities and difference between the broadcasts
India followed the steady trend of winning every match against Pakistan. India scored 167 runs while Pakistan was at 157 in the One day International (2013). Similarly, in the Asia Cup (2010) Pakistan lost to India with 267 runs, while India scored 271/7. I was present at the stadium in both the matches. During the One-day International people were enjoying the match, the fans of both the teams were respectful towards each other. However, during the Asia Cup, the atmosphere was chaotic as the fans of the teams were caught in a verbal brawl. Media played a huge role in covering the incident, they exaggerated the situation further by rising the tension between the nations. On various insistences, Pakistani and Indian players have been seen speaking about the bond they share and the respect they have towards the opponent team. The media does not emphasize much on this, instead they just focus on the negativity. During the post-match ceremony, commentators were seen making fun of Pakistani cricketers due to a lack in their ability of conversing in English. This highlights the double standards of the media.
Race, Gender and sexual objectification
During the One Day International match, the commentator made a comment regarding the Women’s match, He said, ‘ The best thing about the match is that you can sit anywhere you want as the entire stadium is mostly empty’ although this statement was said light-heartedly yet it highlights an important issue in India. For a country that treats cricket as a religion, it is very disappointing to witness the participation of women in cricket rapidly declining over the last few years due to the lack of opportunity for women in India. The Women’s cricket team is hardly appreciated, recognized or encouraged. The traditional norms of India promote women doing household works, instead of working. And since Cricket is mainly viewed as a game that is played by boys, this perception of the sport makes it even harder to overcome the barriers instilled by the society. Media coverage also plays an important role as women’s cricket team does not get as much media coverage compared to the men’s cricket team. The viewers are constantly kept updated with everything going on in the matches of the men’s cricket team, there are programs that are specifically designed for this reason with hosts who interview panelists regarding the game. On the other hand, women’s cricket team is just briefly mentioned on the news, the viewers are not given enough information for them to even form an interest in the game. Due to the huge contrast in coverage between both the team, not many people are even aware of the names of the female cricket players.
Another major problem is the huge gender wage-gap that exists between the male and the female players in Cricket, with the female’s receiving 50% less that what an average male player earns. Cricket is considered a gentleman’s game, it is a testosterone driven, male dominated show. Women dressed in skimpily clothes are made to cheer for the teams. In cricket, cheerleaders have been victims to sexual objectification, as they are mainly viewed as objects to looked at. They are seen as accessories, as their job is only to look pretty and dance on cues in the middle of a noisy stadium for men. Over the last few years, there has been a change in India and steps are taken to overcome all these issues, but, there is still a long way to go. To make a significant change, more investment should be made in the women’s cricket team, and the attitudes and behaviors surrounding the sport should be altered too. There should be gender equality, with all the players receiving the amount of money, depending on their performance rather than on their gender. Female athletes should get the respect that they deserve without being the victims of sexual objectification.
To conclude, this essay highlights prevalent issues in cricket such as sexual objectification, gender inequality, gender stereotyping. Through my analysis of the broadcast I can say that media and culture have a huge influence of how different sports and athletes are perceived by the public.
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