Have you heard? The Women’s World Cup is going on. While most sports fans are aware, iPhone search bot Siri apparently has no idea.
And while Siri is kind of an idiot when it comes to sports (that electronic voice can’t even tell us when Wimbledon is being held — June 29-July 12, for the record), she did seem to know a heck of a lot more about men’s soccer than women’s soccer.
Siri also had trouble naming the captains of the both U.S. men’s and women’s national teams (Clint Dempsey and Christie Rampone, respectively), but at least she was able to come up with a roster for the men. When it came to asking just about anything pertaining to the women, Siri drew a big, fat blank.
Yes, Siri is a bit thick when it comes to women’s soccer, but considering the widespread coverage of the Women’s World Cup — several games are even being aired on Fox in prime time this year! — there’s no reason this iPhone tool should be this in the dark about the women’s game if it knows about the men’s.
The thing is Siri should know about the Women’s World Cup and not just because it seems a bit discriminatory not to. Look at the ratings: The 2011 Women’s World Cup final between the U.S. and Japan drew 13.5 million viewers in the United States alone. That’s roughly three times as many viewers as the Stanley Cup Finals that year, according to Nielsen, but that doesn’t stop Siri from knowing about men’s hockey.
Sadly, Siri’s not the only digital medium on which people are having trouble finding information about the Women’s World Cup, which is weird because, as the Columbia Journalism Review points out, television coverage for the tournament is bigger and better than ever. CJR’s Anna Clark reports:
“For the first time ever, Fox Sports and Telemundo have the television rights to the tournament. ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and other outlets are covering the 2015 games with a patchwork of news and analysis. Sixteen of the 52 matches will air on the main Fox channel, the most ever on broadcast television for any World Cup, men’s or women’s. Five of those matches will be in prime time.”
Yet none of that seems to matter, as Clark says, “the Women’s World Cup can’t quite outrun a media trend that relegates women’s sports to niche status” and points out that ESPN’s site keeps its cover under its vertical for women, “which effectively affirms a stereotype that women’s sports are not of general interest.” She notes a similar chilly treatment from CBS.
While viewers will be able to flip on Fox and see Women’s World Cup, finding information on the Web has proven significantly more difficult. Unlike with Siri, however, the information is at least there.
Here at The Washington Post, the company has a reporter on the ground in Canada, as well as several of us in D.C. churning out articles on the action, including a live blog of all the U.S. games. Admittedly, our coverage isn’t prominently displayed for the most part as it was throughout the entirety of the men’s tournament.
That said, as a woman who works at The Post, I don’t believe that’s a sexist decision, but simply one of logistics. While the women’s World Cup ratings are good, the ratings for the men’s World Cup are generally better all around. For example, even with a final not headlined by Team USA, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and a strong German team were able to attract 17.3 million viewers to ABC’s broadcast last summer, making the 2014 World Cup the most-viewed ever, according to ESPN.
If it makes everyone feel better, Siri didn’t know that either, nor did it even seem to understand the question.
Joking aside, however, there may be a real problem with gender discrimination in the game itself, stemming from the world soccer governing body’s highest ranks. FIFA President Sepp Blatter once suggested women should wear tighter shorts to make their sport more popular. Blatter also didn’t recognize Alex Morgan in 2012, when she was nominated as one of three players for the organization’s Player of the Year Award.
Gender discrimination has even leaked onto the field — literally. For the first time ever, the World Cup is being played on played on artificial turf, a decision top female players even attempted to sue FIFA over. No men’s World Cup has ever been played on anything but real grass and the next two men’s tournaments in 2018 and 2022 are also scheduled to be played on natural turf.
Alas, FIFA refused to compromise with the women for this tournament. Apparently, if it doesn’t involve their shorts, the organization’s not interested.