Athletics/Sports

Women's Soccer Kicks Off ESPN's 'W' Coverage

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ESPN is broadcasting today's Women's World Cup match between the U.S. and France and using the tournament to promote espnW, a Web site that fills out the coverage of women's sports often missing from the headlines of ESPN.com.



(WOMENSENEWS)--Anyone watching today's U.S. women's soccer team play France is tuning in to the sports channel ESPN, which has used the excitement of the Women's World Cup to publicize espnW, its emerging Web site for covering women's sports.

"We want people to think of espnW as the go-to site for female athletes and fans of women's sports, similar to how men view ESPN as the worldwide leader in sports," Colleen Lynch, media coordinator for ESPN, told Women's eNews.

The cable TV network, based in Bristol, Conn., hosted a June 28 publicity event in New York ahead of the first game the U.S. team played against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Passers-by in Times Square at the outdoor viewing party could join soccer drills run by Dr. Jordan Metzl, a nationally recognized sports medicine physician; take home free T-shirts from Nike, the Beaverton, Ore., maker of sporting goods that is one of espnW's founding partners; and watch the televised game on a huge outdoor screen or "jumbotron."

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The Nike T-shirts featured a large W with the slogan "One letter means a lot," emphasizing women in the same way espnW does by capitalizing the last letter and shrinking the better-known initials of the "entertainment sports programming network."

ESPN.com's limited attention to women's sports was evident on July 12, when the homepage was dominated by all-star weekend coverage of Major League Baseball. That consumed more space than the combined coverage of the Women's World Cup and women's basketball.

Limited Coverage

Only one of the five front-page stories on ESPN.com was about women's sports. Its headline--"The U.S. women's soccer team reminded fans that sports still can be beautiful"--navigated readers off to espnW, where a posting on female soccer players' workouts dominated the front of the site.

For the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, the site has been offering video and written commentary and analysis by Mia Hamm, a retired forward for the U.S. soccer team who at 19 became in 1991the youngest American female to win a World Cup championship.

Other reporters include Heather Mitts, member of the current U.S. women's soccer team, and Christine Sinclair, captain of Canada's women's soccer team.

The site--which lists the Women's Sports Foundation, a leading advocacy group, as a founding member--is also hosting the HERoics documentary series of six short films on women and soccer, and offers the by-now obligatory Facebook page and Twitter feed for short, constantly updating messages to followers.

"Team USA: We're too excited to sleep! Can't wait to watch you in action tomorrow," read a July 12 tweet. "You've got our support . . . we'll be glued. #espnwusa"

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