Why no coverage of boxing medalist Claressa Shields?

Anyone know why NBC failed to show at least a few minutes of Claressa’s (of Flint, Michigan) historic victory in women’s boxing at London 2012?

Because the media doesn’t consider women’s boxing sexy and/or doesn’t think there’s enough interest among the viewers to justify the air time?

Okay, maybe, but that seems to run counter to their usual criteria: it’s a feel-good story from a famously hard-on-its-luck community, it’s a new sport that isn’t synchronized skeet exercise or whatever, and there are a lot of boxing fans in general who would be interested in seeing what the women’s version is like…

Well, maybe they’ll put something together for this evening’s primetime collage.

How about because Rachel Maddow gave her a “best thing in the world today” featurette on MSNBC?

Yes, MSNBC is part of NBC. But maybe the marketing heads don’t want it getting back to the prized derp-idiot demographic that this plucky young champion with an inspiring story was paid tribute to by an out lesbian liberal under their corporate purview. Especially since women boxing is butch enough to start with.

Another thought: maybe all Black women are allowed to do is run.

They interviewed her on the TODAY show this morning, also showing clips from the fight.

Well, we’ll see whether she makes the prime time. TV executives are just gutless enough that she might not.


Gabby Douglas seems to be everywhere. (And deservedly so.)

Plus, y’know, Serena Williams.

Oh yeah, her too.

Another thought…I don’t know how typical I am of Americans these days, but I have absolutely no interest in watching boxing of any kind. I like sports and I like competitions, and I will find my attention being captured by just about any televised sport, but if boxing comes on I’m changing the channel. (Back in the day, they used to show quite a lot more Olympic boxing, which meant lots of boxing PLUS Howard Cosell, which made things even worse.)

Apologies to boxing fans…this is just my rather harsh opinion. But it does seem to me that boxing has become dramatically less popular since I was a kid in the sixties and seventies, and I wonder if there are a lot of people who, like me, will click away if even “a few minutes” of a boxing match are shown–and may or may not come back.

There’s one channel that’s almost 24/7 dedicated to Olympics boxing. It was probably on there.

And there’s a reason for that- NBC does NOT regard the Olympics as sports programming. Sports programming is viewed ovwerwhelmingly by MEN, and the advertisements you see during most televised sports reflects that.

The Olympics, on the other hand, are watched overwhelmingly by WOMEN, in the United States. That’s why you see so many human interest pieces during Olympic telecats, so many Oprah-esque interviews in which athletes are encouraged to tell weepy stories about their hard lives.

Female viewers aren’t interested in boxing in general, and have even LESS interest in women’s boxing.

Olympic coverage is driven by one thing: what affluent, middle-to-upper-class American women want to see.

Gabby Douglas is the kind of story middle class American women want to see. So is Lolo Jones. Claressa Shields is not.

If you look, NBC prime time focuses on a small number of marquee sports: gymnastics, track and field, swimming, beach volleyball, and one or two others.

The critera for choosing seems to be:

  1. How many ads can the stick in? Does it allow for plenty of natural breaks in the action so you can put them in?*
  2. How popular the sport has been in past Olympics.
  3. How popular is the sport currently in the US?
  4. Will is appeal to women viewers?
  5. Is the US a serious medal contender?
  6. What sort of human interest angle is there?.
    *Yes, in theory, they can break into any game at any point and just stop the tape while you run ads. But they want to appear “plausibly live” and try to run the event tapes without a pause.

Thank you all for your replies. It makes a little more sense to me now.

Womens boxing has been a huge success this Olympics. Some really great bouts with fantastic heart and soul effort. Totally loved it.

I can’t speak to NBC’s broadcast, but Shields certainly hasn’t been ignored. When she won it was one of the top stories on ESPN.com, and a few weeks ago the New Yorker profiled her. Women’s boxing isn’t the most popular sport, but she has taken the sport by storm and earned some attention.

As a middle-aged, middle-class, white woman, sometimes I really hate being an outlier.

Because I love boxing and especially women’s boxing. If there were more women in boxing, I’d take it up myself. Looks like tons of fun.

Also: I hate the Oprah-esque weepy stories. I usually make fun of them if I haven’t left the room for another beer and a pee break. I do, however, enjoy watching gymnastics. Watching men’s gymnastics has helped me understand why some men cannot watch pole dancing and think “Oh, look at that athlete!”. Because I can’t help picturing the male gymnasts nekkid while they’re up there doin’ their thang. So I kind of get that now.

I’m gonna move the goalposts and say that to TV programmers Gabby is a girl, Serena is a superstar, and Black women are still basically runners or nothing. I hope I’m full of it.

Apart from boxing, what other black women could they have showcased? As far as I can tell, every other individual medal – gold, silver, even bronze – thus far earned by a black woman on Team USA was (a) in track and field, or (b) won by Serena Williams or Gabby Douglas.

IMHO, you’ve got something there, but it’s more along the lines of a subtle, even subconscious “there’s only so many nice stories the mass media assumes the public is ready to digest in a short period of time”, and “black females winning a gold medal” is one of the “” modifiers.