Having spent yesterday luxuriating in the gloriousness of two England victories over New Zealand in the Rugby Union, I’d like to think I went into today in a pretty good mood. Actually, I was deliriously happy. To see not one, but two English sides send the World Champions packing on home turf isn’t something many people can say they’ve done in a lifetime. Cue one extremely happy, extremely hoarse Sportist writer this Sunday morning.
Unfortunately, my phone then proceeded to die a death and it took me far longer to get home after a day out than I’d intended, so the writer that sits down to write this weekend’s media review isn’t quite the happy bunny there might have been this morning. So, in my best headmasterly tone, I’ve dragged 5 students at random into my office to review their efforts on women’s sport this weekend. Let’s face it, this hasn’t been a tough assignment, there’s been some excellent examples to choose from this week. So how on earth did some of them fail this badly?
The Sun is, frankly, that kid that even the teachers don’t like. But we put up with it because it has a parent that will kick up a storm if we ignore it too much, so here’s a fair and balanced viewpoint on its efforts this week: utter tripe. They do mention the women’s victory over the Black Ferns in a single line at the very bottom of their rugby scores round-up. But that’s your lot. It might be called The Sun, but this lot are very much living in the Dark Ages. F. And probably an expulsion.
The Sunday Telegraph
The quality of the writing may be markedly superior to that of the Murdoch stable tabloid, but sadly the level of focus on women’s sport is disappointingly similar. Perhaps it isn’t fair to judge a broadsheet staple like The Sunday Telegraph in a different manner to which we would The Sun, but frankly it costs a lot more and we expect better of it. A couple of paragraphs on the Women’s Rugby (guys, they beat the World Champions 3-0 in the series and yesterday’s match was LIVE ON TV) just isn’t good enough. D-. Must do better.
Let’s keep this simple: there’s nothing. Not a word. Not even a mention. It was tempting to say they were almost saved by Ian Holloway’s acknowledgement of the female nominees for Sports Personality of the Year, but if we’re calling that an achievement we might as well all pack up and go home. Which is exactly what I’m suggesting to the Sunday Mirror. Get out. Don’t come back. If you do, I’m bringing back corporal punishment.
The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times is a paper that we didn’t have the greatest amount of time for in the early days, but over the last few weeks I’ve got no shame in saying it’s been bloody brilliant. A surprising contender for prize student, really. It’s been just excellent. This week it puts in another strong showing, though admittedly one that maybe looks better than it is purely in relation to the weak efforts that the last three contenders have put up. A full match report on the England Women’s victory, filed from Twickenham by correspondent Nigel Botherway, complete with picture (Natasha Hunt), full line-ups, changes and scorers is a fine effort. That they back this up with a sidebar on Chrissie Wellington’s retirement from Ironman Triathlon to become a spokesperson and champion for sporting women in Britain and her views on the BBC’s forthcoming conference acknowledging its less-than-brilliant representation of women in sport makes this an absolutely superb effort from The Sunday Times. And, as they mentioned it, we are seriously encouraged by the forthcoming BBC conference, which will be chaired by Barbara Slater (BBC Head of Sport). As Wellington rightly says, ‘The BBC should have given equal coverage to women a long time ago. I am going to be involved with the BBC and the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation to try and make sure the quantity and quality of media coverage improves.’ Listen up, media. The movement’s coming for you. A and a strong, strong commendation.
As you all know, we love The Observer. It makes us feel warm and snug and encouraged by the world. This is the student who will probably be the Prime Minister, the scientist who discovers the cure to cancer and the Olympic gold medallist. All at once. Hail to you, Prime Minister Observer. Except in the last few weeks, it’s had a contender. The Sunday Times has been breathing down its neck. How will The Observer respond?
Quite, quite well if this week is anything to go by. The report of the England victory over New Zealand, crowning England’s 3-0 series victory, is no more than we expected. The real value comes deeper in the paper with a full page interview with Rebecca Tunney, the youngest member of Team GB during the London 2012 Olympic Games. This is a great piece, touching on the sacrifices that the elite athlete needs to make in order to reach the top of their game and the astonishing extra drain this brings if you happen to be a 15 (and now 16) year old girl trying to balance a social life, exams and all the inherent challenges that being a teenager brings. It’s a brilliant interview and brings out the parts of an athlete’s life that most of us would never think to consider.
The Observer. Bringing the world of women’s sport to the masses every single Sunday. A*. Top of the class.
Images from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports and http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport (thanks!)