It’s a brave new year and a brave new world out there, and time for the first Sports Media Roundup of 2013. In our deepest hearts, we all desperately hope that this will be the year that women’s sport breaks out of the media shackles in which it has been so unjustly contained since the year dot. And what better time to start than at the end of the very first week? Let’s see how the contenders step up.
The Sun on Sunday
We’re starting out with this, because it’s an easy beginning. We bought The Sun on Sunday. It had not even a word on women’s sport. New year, same issues.
The Sunday Telegraph
With the Sunday Telegraph, we’ve become so used to scouring the small story items for any mention of women in sport that the major, full page football story on one Carolyn Radford almost escaped my attention entirely. Even with the headline, ‘Girl power is giving Mansfield new drive’ and a ¼ page image of the aforementioned Ms Radford, Mansfield scarf, football and high heels in full view, we almost glazed straight over.
Yet this is a significant story, because not only is Radford one of the few women in senior administrative positions in the men’s football period (off the top of our heads, we can only think of Karen Brady as an alternative), she is also the youngest chief executive in professional football. At just 30 years old, that is an astonishing achievement. The story draws attention to the whispers that emerged in September 2011, upon Radford’s appointment, that it was only her relationship with owner John Radford that gained her the position. The couple were engaged mere weeks after her appointment, leading to further allegations of a quasi-nepotistic appointment, yet the results since Carolyn Radford commenced rather speak for themselves; today’s FA Cup tie against Liverpool is simply recognition of their astonishing progress.
Beyond the football, there is brief mention of Laura Massaro, Jenny Duncalf and Nicol David in the squash World Series Final, Fionnuala Britton’s Great Edinburgh Cross Country victory and Victoria Azarenka’s bizarre pedicure-related injury withdrawal from the Brisbane open, but that’s it. Incidentally, the Azarenka nib is accompanied by a picture of her doing the Gangnam Style dance. We do love Victoria Azarenka.
The Sunday Mirror
Ah, Sunday Mirror, our reliable friend. In amongst your 8,000,000,000 pages of football coverage today the usual paragraph on women’s football emerges, previewing Leeds’ Premier League tie against bottom club Barnet. In the main pages, the paper even manages to make mention of Lisa Dobriesky’s seventh place finish in the Cross Country and Serena Williams’ serene (geddit?! – CS) title win in the Brisbane Open, completing a 6-2 6-1 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova having received a bye in the Semi Finals due to Victoria Azarenka’s bizarre pedic…ooh, deja-vu. Three mentions of women’s sport? Crikey, Sunday Mirror, you’ve outdone yourselves.
Our long-time favourite of women’s sporting coverage fell slightly off the tracks in the last weeks of 2012, no doubt over-exerted by its long-time desire to push the women’s sporting agenda more or less alone amongst the mainstream print media. The first Sunday edition of 2013 is something of a return to form, though, with a front-page advertised half page feature on 22-year-old Elise Christie, the world number 1 short-track speed skater.
Christie is a 2-time world cup gold medallist (Japan and Moscow, both in 2012 in the 1,000m) and 4-time silver medallist (Canada 2012, Canada and Japan 2011 in the 1,000m, Japan 2012 in the 1,500m) and the only genuine British speed skating medal hope since 1994 in a sport utterly dominated by South Korea, Canada, the US and China. With winter sports kicking into overdrive in preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Christie’s is a name to keep an eye on, beginning at the European Championships in less than two weeks’ time.
There’s also mention of Serena’s win in Brisbane, rounding off an interesting 2013 first strike from The Observer.
The Sunday Times
There was a time that I really disliked the Sunday Times. Particularly as part of the Murdoch stable. So the degree to which I’ve fallen in love with it over the past 3 or 4 months is somewhat disconcerting and entirely to do with its focus on women’s sport.
The paper ended 2012 in strong fashion and picks up in 2013 exactly where it left off with brief mention of Carolyn Radford, before kicking into top gear with a big ticket piece on Squash’s battle to earn inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games with equal focus given to male and female competitors at the sharp end of the World Series Finals.
Elsewhere a great profile piece on Emelia Gorecka, the 19-year-old great new hope for GB Cross Country, who possess a team which delivered all top-6 finishers in the junior race, and an intriguing equestrian possibility of mother and daughter pairing Mary and Emily King competing together as part of Team GB in the 2016 Olympic Games concludes the paper’s sporting coverage for the week.