Article

“Victory on Their Own Terms”: American Front-Page Framing of the USWNT Repeat World Cup Championship

Article

“Victory on Their Own Terms”: American Front-Page Framing of the USWNT Repeat World Cup Championship

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Abstract

The United States women’s national team (USWNT) successfully defended its 2015 FIFA World Cup title with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands on July 7, 2019. With the win, the USWNT increased its total World Cup titles to four, accounting for half of the total Women’s World Cup tournaments ever played. The current study examined 418 American newspapers the following day and whether the team’s 2019 repeat victory was enough to warrant front-page coverage. Guided by framing theory, this content analysis indicated the victory was significantly represented on front pages and offered a snapshot of how international success in women’s sport can result in increased media attention in the U.S. The framing specific to the USWNT presented positive signs for representation. However, when attention focused on non-USWNT sports, gender disparity in overall coverage represented a long-standing trope to diminish quantity and quality of coverage of women’s sports. Within a nation that gravitates toward “American exceptionalism” in sport, this study highlighted that even winning—if it is within women’s sports—leaves room for journalistic debate whether that accomplishment merits front-page attention, and it hinted at the recurring journalistic ideology that has historically and systematically underrepresented women throughout modern history.

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