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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, June 14, 2024

Column: Is ESPNW progressive or problematic?

GS: This weekend saw the conclusion to the Australian Open tennis tournament. The hype of the tournament Down Under might have gotten swept away by the Super Bowl hype and the fact that it takes takes place in the dead of night on our side of the Pacific. Regardless, you missed out on a pretty exciting tournament, and a rather shocking Cinderella story on the women’s side.

20-year-old American Madison Keys made a terrific run to the semifinals of the tournament before falling to eventual champion Serena Williams 6-7, 2-6. In her run, she toppled three seeded players, including No. 18 Venus Williams and No. 4 Petra Kvitová.

Keys’ run was a terrific story to follow for the past two weeks. However, I couldn’t find it on ESPN, but rather its “sister” offshoot site, ESPNW. Sam, my question for you is, why must every entertaining women’s sports story appear on this useless site?

SC: I can understand your frustration that all of your favorite sports news isn’t conveniently located on the same site. But, I have to say Grey, that I’m okay with the existence of ESPNW. While it may seem pointless at first, I think it’s a step in the right direction for ESPN to recognize women’s sports enough to give them their own site, with experts on the sports and players (even for the same sports, rules often differ for women). I think giving an outlet for fans of women’s sports to gather and discuss only the news they want and find relevant is fantastic.

But, I do think that links to ESPNW articles should still be located more prominently throughout the ESPN site. This way, casual sports fans who maybe are not aware the other site exists could still find content about their favorite sports and players. These links would be able to redirect fans to the ESPNW site, without losing traffic to competing brands.

GS: Well I understand that, but I think women’s tennis is the most watched women’s professional sport. The Williams sisters have been in the national spotlight for well over a decade. Not to mention similar ascents from players like Sloane Stephens and even Lauren Davis.

Women’s tennis, especially American women’s tennis, has been growing at a rapid rate. Now throw in Madison Keys! Just think if she can keep winning at this rate. Imagine her breaking into a final at Wimbledon in July. Are you telling me the only way I’m supposed to follow this is on a buried website?

SC: Like I said before, just because ESPNW exists, doesn’t mean that links to its content can’t or shouldn’t be found on the regular ESPN site. I think that ESPN is losing key viewers on its content if it doesn’t.

The smartest bet, at least in my opinion, would be to keep the distinct sites but put the most popular or relevant content (Madison Keys’ phenomenal performance in this case) onto the parent site that rakes in millions of views per day. That way, fans of women’s sports can still find all of their content on a website specifically designed to celebrate female athletes, while those fans who are just searching for tennis recaps can find everything they need in one place. Doesn’t that sound like the best of both worlds?

GS: It does, but it certainly isn’t the case in today’s day and age. Women’s sports are a critical aspect of the sporting landscape. The four major tennis tournaments are just the beginning. Think about the Olympics. Think about the Women’s World Cup this year! I simply don’t believe that these stories should be relegated. That’s what I’m taking issue with.

SC: Right now, I would agree with you. I think that the true potential of women’s sports coverage is not even close to being met. But, I do feel like ESPNW is a step in the right direction. I would just hope that in the future ESPN will be able to more seamlessly combine the content for the two, so that women’s sports still reaches the sizable audience it needs to survive while also existing in a location that celebrates its unique qualities. So, moral of the story: step it up and keep improving, ESPN!

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