2011 was a big year for football. In Spain, Jose Mourinho took over a coach of Real Madrid, but failed to wrest the La Liga title from Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side; in England, Manchester United took their 12th Premier League title ahead of Chelsea and the increasingly monied Manchester City; in Europe, Leo Messi et al demonstrated just what a superhuman world they inhabited by reclaiming the Champions League trophy against the English champions. Eyes were turned to Euro 2012, to Wayne Rooney’s ill-judged kick and international ban; to the Olympic football tournament of 2012.
It’s tremendously easy to look at 2011 as ‘the dark days’ for women in sport, before the enlightenment of 2012 and the fundamental shift in attitude marked by the London Olympic Games. Certainly to look at media coverage (and it still isn’t good – just look at our most recent media review), women’s sport may as well not have existed in 2011. Yet one small statistic came to my attention in the last week that suggested taking the mainstream media out of the equation reveals a wildly different picture.
Broadly speaking, the two biggest single-match events of the men’s footballing calendar in 2011 were the Champion’s League Final in May and the Copa America in July. Running concurrently to the latter was the women’s World Cup, a tournament of intrigue, skill, no little controversy and absolutely none of the profile attributed to the two aforementioned events.
Though you’d never have known it, to read the media coverage, the end of the women’s World Cup was the 3rd most tweeted about event between January and October 2011. The two events that ‘out-tweeted’ it had nothing whatsoever to do with sport (being the MTV Music Awards and Troy Davis’ execution). The women’s World Cup generated more Twitter coverage than either of the men’s events.
I read a great article on The Sports Carton on Article IX last week. It drew a great line in the ‘build it and they will come’ camp. And it’s true – give us a platform and people want to speak about women in sport. They want to network about it, discuss it, argue about it, wax lyrical over it. They want it just as much as men’s sport. They want it more, if Twitter’s own statistics are to be believed.
Listen up media – your audience is out there. Talk to them.
(Twitter statistics source – Comscore Social Media Report ‘It’s a Social World’, citing ‘Year in Review: Tweets per second’ – Twitter.com. The end of the women’s World Cup generated 7,196 tweets per second!)
Talking of Twitter – if you fancy keeping up with the latest Sportist ramblings then you can follow us at @Sportistblog (-Ed.)
Image from http://www.ticespor.com (thanks)