The gap between perception of men’s and women’s sport is becoming both alarming and appalling. In addition, the coverage of women’s games and events, while better, continues to languish behind the men. This must change.
I’ll start with the Women’s Cricket. Two one day internationals for the Women’s Ashes series were recently held at the MCG, and patrons were admitted for free. Attendance? Perhaps 500 in the second match – a day nighter – after some finished work.
Granted, it was great that there was a small crowd. However, does the women’s game only seem the smallest bit attractive? The answer, to a lot, is yes. Performance quality in cricket is as good as, if not better, than some of the men’s game. Never mind the women can’t hit it as far.
Money margins in some sports have catapulted to some extremes as well. Tennis may well be the best example of equality; the 2007 Wimbledon Championships offered equal prize money to both genders, and since then all Grand Slams have followed the trend. Again, like media coverage, some sports still have a way to go.
What burns me is social media treatment. Everything becomes scrutinised on a public forum, and to use a recent example of a high-profile athlete, Sky Sports News this week had former British gymnast Beth Tweddle on to answer questions. Huge thumbs up, considering the ratio/number of female-to-male athletes asked for an online Q & A is a bit large.
Like all discussions, a few narrow-minded – or, to be a bit stronger, vulgar – heads came out of the woodwork. Here it is:
One word: awful. There were a few other questions that were of a “respectable” nature and had a focus about her recent retirement – but none that really related to gymnastics as a sport. Poor go, and even more aggravating was the “stirring of the pot” from Twitter users.
Here are three gripes:
- This is a staggering statistic – just 5% of sports coverage goes to the women; and the ratio of articles written about men’s sport compared to women’s outnumbers the latter 53:1 (this is concerning – and it doesn’t include sports ie tennis)
- Narrow-minded views. In essence, people who say “women aren’t cut out for sport, stick to doing stuff at home” – just like the business area. Sometimes (and cricket is a good example), sometimes the female game is better than the male game when it comes to technique and strategy.
- Sexual innuendo – this has become something more recent and very noticeable in international coverage. It is cringeworthy and even if subtle and unintended, seems to paint a bad image for women’s sport.
The buck stops with vague, little and stunted promotion. Adding to the sexual innuendo above, using volleyball as an example – men wear shorts and either a sports singlet or t-shirt. On the other hand, the women are wearing (usually) much tighter clothing. If you want an image, it’s in front of you.
Will the coverage women’s sport deserves finally make an appearance? The jury, and the correct management is out on that. Slow growth is great, but is detrimental too. I, for one, would like to see some media outlets (ie the Herald Sun, AFL etc) dedicate a section of their website, if even a small portion, to the popular women’s game(s) in Australia. A new audience would see it.
Bring the inequality game to an end.