Short durations and "feminine" appearance are the reasons why women are more likely to watch sporting events such as Olympics instead of season-long sports, a new study reveals.
These were the findings of a recent study conducted by Erin Whiteside from the University of Tennessee and Marie Hardin from the Pennsylvania State University.
"Our research provides some insight into why the Olympics remain popular with women," Hardin said.
"It's not just about the types of sports that are featured, although that is certainly a big part of it. It's also about the way in which the Olympics is delivered: in bite-sized chunks that may require just a 10-minute commitment to see an exciting sporting event, during a time of day when women feel they can make that commitment," she said.
The study looked at conversations from female focus groups to determine how women consume sports media. The findings show that female spectatorship is often tied to gender roles and related domestic work.
Nearly all women surveyed expressed preference for the Olympics, for patriotic reasons as well as for the fast pace.
"Women preferred the condensed style of coverage, something they described as easy to follow," Whiteside said.
The frequency of events during the Olympics, as well as the omnipresent discussion around it -from television to radio to the news-made it preferable for women who otherwise did not identify as avid sports viewers or didn't regularly have the time to devote to watching sports.
Women in the study favoured sports that were more traditionally feminine rather than masculine.
Participants generally saw little value in following women's sports and were especially uninterested in watching or following women in sports such as basketball, which showcase athletic displays that challenge traditional gender roles.
Rather, they expressed a passing interest in sports such as gymnastics, tennis, and figure skating.
The study included 19 women in 3 focus groups, with 90 minutes spent with each group. The average woman was married, had children, and was middle-class. They ranged in age from 26 to 43.
The study has been published in Communication, Culture and Critique.