UOttawa’s issue with gendered reporting
On the first week of December, The Fulcrum (Student newspaper for Ottawa University) published a “Top five Gee-Gees moments of 2018.” Among the five was the championship for women’s soccer, wins over Carleton in men’s hockey and football, and a silver medal for a 60m runner. Conspicuously absent from the five was the women’s rugby team third place showing at the 2018 U Sports National Championship.
The article was written by Andrew Price, the current editor of the sports section. He commented on the reasoning:
“They kind of had a disappointing end to their season, didn’t play all that well at nationals. It was the year before when they won their big championship and I could’ve included the RSEQ championship I suppose, but we covered them a lot.”
At NASH81, the annual student journalism conference for universities around Canada, The Fulcrum won Student Publication of the Year for the 2018 John H. McDonald Award for excellence in student journalism. This was voted on by other student papers, who recognized the great work The Fulcrum was doing.
They have recently gone from a weekly publication to monthly prints. They, like many others around the country, have been forced to primarily online content. This is likely due to the cuts in funding to the paper’s budget.
The UOttawa Gee-Gees women’s rugby team had a dominant year in 2018, after winning the national title in 2017. 7-0 in the regular season, culminating in a fifth consecutive undefeated RSEQ regular season. One such win by a 113- 0 margin. They also defeated StFX in an exhibition match.
StFX rugby manager Carolyn Williams spoke out on Facebook about the exclusion of the team, stating:
“It’s disappointing to see the lack of recognition for not just women’s rugby, but women’s sports in general.”
Women’s and men’s sports in university are even, regardless of the number of spectators who show up. Equal representation in reporting for these teams is vital. It could be forgiven if the women teams did not accomplish much this year, yet this was far from the case. Four of the five moments in the article were about a male athlete or male team.
A fifth year player for the Gee-Gees, Erin Mcallan commented:
“It seems like for males to get recognition all they need to do is qualify for the playoffs whereas female teams (i.e., our womens soccer team) actually need to win a national championship to be recognized.”
Perhaps it was a case of success apathy for the rugby team. The consistency of five straight conference championships could elicit a malaise from reporters.
Yet, combing through the Fulcrum sports page, it was apparent that women sport was equally covered in day-to-day articles. Write-ups on sports ranging from Volleyball to Basketball were present.
Andrew spoke further, stating that they assign awards at the end of the year called the Calvary Awards. These will be more indicative of the whole season and will hopefully include more female teams and individuals.
It is important to remember that universities have two news outlets for sports information. One for the student newspapers, and one that represents the athletic department. For example, StFX has goxgo.ca, which consists of a communications director that does the recaps for each game. This director is employed by the athletic department. The Xaverian Weekly on the other hand, is not tied to the athletic or administrative department, and relies solely on student journalists.
Mcallan also mentioned that this story was a “bit of a constant theme at UOttawa, that most of the support, and media attention goes to our male sports teams regardless of how well they perform.”
Last month, U Sports reported that the University of Ottawa will be host for the 2019 Women’s Rugby Championship, the second time being selected as hosts. Perhaps having the tournament on home turf will garner more recognition for a team with regular season dominance that mirrors StFX’s own rugby team.