"It's all about luck with the females," James Angelini, an assistant professor of communications at the University of Delaware, said in a statement. "It's all about ability with the males."
Angelini and his research partners recorded NBC's prime time coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, tracked each day's events and coded the footage based on 17 categories including athletic ability, strength, commitment to the sport, intelligence and luck.
The study, published in the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, found:
-- When female athletes succeeded, commentators tended to focus on luck and less on physical ability.
-- When female athletes failed, physical ability and commitment were noted.
-- When male athletes succeeded commentators applauded their skill and commitment to the sport.
-- When male athletes failed, it was not necessarily about their failure, but about how their competitors succeeded.
-- 75 percent of the most-mentioned athletes were male.