The development of an adolescent sporting gendered habitus: Young people’s interpretation of UK sports-media coverage of Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice explains how institutions – specifically for this paper, sports media – influence the taken-for-granted assumptions of one’s habitus. Sportswomen receive less media coverage than sportsmen, yet the influence that this has on young people is under-researched. Using a mixed method approach, combining the results of a content and narrative analysis of 2514 articles and 2051 photographs from four UK online media outlets (BBC Sport, The Guardian, Sky Sports News, Twitter Moments) with interviews with 70 young people (33 males and 37 females; aged 15-16 years) from three schools in North East England, this paper explores how sports-media messages are interpreted within the framework of a gendered habitus. Two empirical themes emerged: firstly, young people expect female athletes to be underrepresented and sexualised in sports-media, affecting how sport is constructed as unimportant for females for the accrual of social capital. Secondly, media messages which promote female attractiveness are internalised within young people’s habitus. The adolescent gendered habitus is influenced by media messages: the prioritisation of sportsmen leads to young women viewing sport as ‘not for them’. The role of sport within a gendered habitus reflects hegemonic masculinity which promotes sport for men and stereotypical femininity for women.