Its been a very interesting few days for the world of women’s sport in the press. Following on from the meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Women’s Sport and Fitness on Wednesday, the papers rallied their support and made public the crisis surrounding the female sporting world. There were depressing stats on the lack of female participation in sport, quotes from the speeches of those women at the helm of this campaign and photos of just some of the female superstars of London 2012.”Look out Britain’, the papers seemed to say, ‘If we don’t get more girls into sport then that’s it, we may as well withdraw from Rio 2016 now.’ There were Indy double page features, articles on most paper’s online sites and even a discussion on the BBC Breakfast Couch at 7:45 am, however by lunchtime on Friday everyone seemed to have forgotten again.
Let’s clarify here and now that we are in no way sassing the fact that the UK media reported the findings from the APPG meeting, in fact we were so happy to see women’s sport feature so heavily in big national publications we wrote a whole blog on it the other day. However there is one big irony that was further emphasised this morning to anyone who read the Indy’s ‘Letters to the Editor’ section. Basically UK media, you’ve got the idea that there is a problem with the lack of enthusiasm surrounding the female sporting world, NOW DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT as you’re very responsible for the problem. As one correspondent points out in regards to the level of media coverage of women’s sport (Gill Cooper from Southend-on-sea) ‘pointing the finger at broadcasters is hypocritical in the extreme when on the day of [Robin Scott-Elliott’s] article, The Independent’s pages were again devoid of reporting on women’s sport.’ The letter from former England Women’s cricketer Lucy Pearson (Cheshire) furthers this argument; ‘Enough of the corporate cries of “but we are only delivering what our readers want”; time for them to admit they are the masters, not the servants of the reader’s palates.’
The perception of women’s sport in the UK must be lead by the media, it’s the only way the UK will become aware of what talent is out there, the sponsorship opportunities and the positive role models that could lead many of our young girls away from inactivity. Its a health issue as much as a social one, yet currently nobody seems brave enough to take up that mantle and show that women’s sport should be taken seriously.
Which leads nicely onto a very brief summary of a twitter debate that seemed to open up yesterday between us and the Deputy and Editor-in-Chief of Sport Magazine (full discussion can be found at our Twitter profile@Sportistblog) Turns out Tony Hodson and Simon Caney didn’t appreciate us saying the magazine had ignored women in response to their ‘Power List 2012’. Out of the 50 places on the list apparently only 5 women were up to standard to feature, however when challenged Sport raised their hackles and decreed that the list served to highlight the problem; that there aren’t enough high-powered women in the UK’s sporting metropolis. They also argued that it would be detrimental to the cause to throw in a few token gesture females just to balance up the inequality and therefore we couldn’t criticise them. Although we disagree with the comment on not being allowed to criticise because we’re pretty sure expressing opinions is one of the gifts of living in our free society and still aren’t too sure how someone like Hope Powell or Tanni Grey-Thompson would be a token gesture, we fully agreed with Sport that if the lack of female representation in sport was something they wanted to highlight then that’s great. Interestingly though when both Caney and Hodson were asked if Sport Magazine would be the ones to lead on increasing the profile of women’s sport the question was not too subtly dodged. So we shall see.
(Images from…a lot of places – thank you and please contact us if you’re unhappy with us using them!)