WOMEN’S SPORT VS THE MEDIA – WEEKEND NEWSPAPER ROUND UP

Another week, another mass of Sunday newspapers with sports pages to be navigated by your faithful Sportist writers.  Obviously the big event of this week was England’s amazing T20 Cricket World Cup campaign, however with the end of the WSL and Arsenal’s qualification to the next stages of the women’s Champions League there is a lot to be reported on….in theory…

The Sunday Telegraph

Ah, Sunday.  The Telegraph.  Croissants for breakfast, roast chicken for lunch, walks with the dog on the beach and crumpets and Countryfile in the evening.  Bastion of the middle class and childhood memories, surely you can be relied upon not to let us down on women’s sport?  There’s cricket to be discussed, after all.  Well, we’re not entirely disappointed.  A decent standalone preview on this morning’s T20 Final lines up alongside a similarly polished article on the men’s final with a leading photo of Charlotte Edwards, but that’s quite genuinely the lot.  12 full pages of sport write up and barely half a page on women just isn’t good enough.  Childhood memories duly disparaged.  Thanks, Telegraph.

The Sun

Once upon a time, in the days of the News of the World and the time of the dinosaurs, we wouldn’t have had to upset ourselves by picking up a copy of The Sun.  Simpler times.  But in the interests of modernity, we felt it only fair to give Murdoch’s latest public offering its moment in the…well…The Sun.  Let’s get our happy surprise out of the way first – there’s NO BOOBS!  Okay, so on page 3 there is a woman in her underwear, but her boobs are well and truly in.  We almost spat our tea all over the keyboards in surprise.  The wonder of it.  Unfortunately, that’s where the joy ends.  To the back pages we scurried, with reading glasses well and truly engaged, waiting to gorge ourselves on The Sun’s renowned sporting analysis (ahem).  Okay, we weren’t expecting much, but of 11 pages plus a dedicated football supplement, The Sun’s collected resources manage a mere three sentences on the women’s cricket.  And that’s it.  On wordcount terms, that is roughly the same as was dedicated to the choice of referee in the Aston Villa – Tottenham match this afternoon.  For chrissakes.

The Independent

Gosh I dislike John Terry and Ashley Cole.  And pretty much the whole FA, but that’s a different story.  As expected, the Independent follows it’s fellow papers in focusing on the story of spoilt, brattish men throwing tantrums (The FA/Cole/Terry case) and it really worries me how a sport that still can’t control problems with racism will ever accept the idea of women being able to play the beautiful game, but again, that’s a whole different kettle of fish.  Onwards with the paper.

The Indie has let us down a little bit this week.  There’s a nod towards the Women’s T20 final match, but it only occupies the bottom corner on a page mainly dedicated to why Pietersen should be allowed back in the England Squad (because we’re generally not as good without him).  The report, written by Stephen Brenkley also contains these rather chilling lines. ‘The women’s game does not, and never will have, the power and force of the men’s game.  But it has an undoubted skill and charm of its own.’   Okay the compliments he goes on to ply the women’s game with are good, but seem somewhat empty when preceded by statements like that.

Nearing the back pages there’s a small bit on the women playing in the China Open, whilst news that Rebecca Adlington is cycling 280 miles across Zambia with other athletes to raise money for charity also makes it in.  There’s also a catty review of Pendal’s debut on Strictly that I can’t be bothered to talk about fully, but needless to say the journalist feels the whole ‘British Summer of Sport’ glory could be RUINED if Pendals doesn’t dance better…

The Mirror

Next up is The Mirror.  In previous weeks The Mirror has not exactly been the largest supporter of Women’s sport and this week seems to be keeping to this form.   Bare in mind the England Women’s cricket team today headed for the T20 World Cup final as the only team in both men’s and women’s competition not to be defeated along the way, The Mirror decided that although they would report on this great achievement, they would do it in about 5 lines.  As an afterthought at the end of a report on the men’s final.  In fact a whole 46 words were spared on our national team’s success in making the final, less words than in a NIB a few pages later on the latest from the world of DARTS.  There’s national pride for you.

On top of that there’s mention of the Beijing open tennis, but no mention of the women’s final, some rugby (mens) and then about 98 pages of (mens) football reports and analysis.  Oh..hang on, what have I found here?  A World Half Marathon Championships NIB which mentions both the male AND female winner.  Oh happy days (Meseret Hailu in a time of 1:08:55 if you’re interested)

The Observer

Ah, Observer.  Faithful friend.  We’re beginning to feel a bit of a pattern emerging here.  It may not take much to lead the way in mainstream media coverage of women’s sport, but the fact that The Observer does so on such a consistent basis is well worth highlighting again and again.  Basically until someone else steps up to the plate.  So who’s it going to be?

This week’s installment provides a small update to the China Open (Sharapova and Azarenka to meet in the final, in case you were interested), a couple of lines on American hurdler Lolo Jones and best of all, a huge half-page piece on the T20 Final including a genuinely thought provoking analysis on the ways in which women’s cricket has to make the most of the profile it is enjoying at present.  Here’s the crux of things – this isn’t sports journalism by numbers, nor is it a cursory nod to the female sporting populace.  This is genuine, considered, engaging sports writing where the subject just happens to be women, not men.  This is how it should be.  Will someone else just get on with it and step up, please?  We don’t want to spend every week telling you how damn good The Observer is.

FQ and CS

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