Breaking Down How We Talk About Men's and Women's Basketball

How does the media talk about men's and women's sports? Quite differently, according to Nicholas Subtirelu, a Ph.D. student in applied linguistics at Georgia State University.

How does the media talk about men's and women's sports? Quite differently, according to Nicholas Subtirelu, a Ph.D. student in applied linguistics at Georgia State University. In a blog post, Subtirelu describes how he combed through articles on NCAA.com to see how the site reported on Division I men's and women's basketball.


“I went to NCAA.com and downloaded all of the articles for Division I men’s and women’s basketball from the past 10 years.”

The first thing he notes is the disparity in the amount of content between the male and female athletes. He found 3,451 articles on the site concerning men's basketball and 1,825 articles talking about women's games.

He then charted the words that appeared frequently in each gender's respective articles, taking out proper names of coaches, teams, and players. Subtirelu was much more interested in how writers presented the players — what kinds of descriptors were used to talk about the different genders.

The top five keywords for women were: her (possessive), herself, her, she, girls, and women. Whereas the men were described with words, such as pound, guy, dunk, stadium, and him.

The word “pound” is of particular interest. Subtirelu found numerous instances of men's heights and weights being mentioned in articles, whereas only women's heights would be written in a post. In his blog post, he debates why authors would omit women's weights:

“The authors of these articles are probably responding to a wider taboo about women’s weight when they omit female players’ weights. However, when men are described according to their weight, do they not often appear more powerful and foreboding? Is any perception that female athletes are less powerful or that their competitions are less intense or physical reinforced by the absence of discussion of their weight? I would also love to know what female athletes themselves feel about this.”

Another point of interest in this study was the difference between the use of gender-specific words. Women saw more mentions of their gender, including the word "girl," whereas no mention of the word “boys” was in the top 20 word list for men, and there were fewer gender-specific keywords.

If you want to read more about Subtirelu's linguistic study, including a full list of the top 20 keywords, check out his blog post on Linguistic Pulse.

Photo Credit: University of the Fraser Valley/Flickr

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
popular

In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less