With one half of the Sportist off on holiday in sunnier climes, it is left to yours truly to seek solace and shelter from London’s hideous February weather in any way we can. Today, we have chosen the nation’s Sunday papers and their no doubt stunningly detailed coverage of the world of women’s sport as our metaphorical umbrella. Don’t let us down.
Perhaps we expect too much of The Observer. In partnership with its daily sister, The Guardian, the paper has been a trailblazer and a hero (heroine?) of the Sportist’s since the day we launched. We love it. We want it to be better than the best. And this week, it is.
Once we get past the glut of football coverage – it’s going to be so fascinating to see what level of reporting the FA Women’s Super League gets when it recommences midway through next month – there’s a whole host of articles held within.
From the snippet of information regarding Fifa’s typically mixed messages on female stewardship within the game (as it transpires, Sepp Blatter has confirmed the nomination of four women to stand in 2013’s executive committee elections, while conversely independent ethics advisor Mark Pleth reveals that the organisation blocked two recommendations for leadership of its Internal Investigative body due to the fact that they refused to be judged by women. Hello 1800s, it’s so nice to see you again) to Jade Jones’ defeat in the first round of Taekwondo’s Swedish Open championships, The Observer covers absolutely everything.
A match report on England’s shock 25-0 Six Nations defeat to Ireland, Mike Selvey’s Women’s World Cup roundup (a first rate critical analysis of English batting failures in the tournament to date), tennis from the Fed Cup promotion play-off and a great piece on Holly Bleasdale’s British indoor pole vault title winning performance make up the core of The Observer’s reporting this week. And excellent it is too.
The Sunday Express
‘FREE INSIDE’, The Sunday Express’ back pages scream, ‘Your brilliant sports pullout’. Which is half true, because there really is a sports pullout inside the paper. Whether or not it’s free is up for debate (it’s included in the price of the paper, yes. But so are all the other pages. Are they free too? Is the price tag attributable only to the front page? Can I just tear off said front page and take the rest of the paper gratis?) It’s brilliance is absolutely not up for debate, though, because frankly it’s utterly awful. At least if you like women at all, for not a word is to be found.
The paper’s own back pages carry three whole mentions within the ‘In Brief’ section, with Elsie Christie’s World Cup gold medal winning performance in the 1500m short-track speed skating earning mention alongside the Fed Cup tennis and the England hockey team’s 3-0 defeat to Holland in the Investec Challenge Cup. We’re not sure three brief mentions really cuts it for a Sunday paper, but it’s nice to see both hockey and speed skating represented for once.
The Sunday Telegraph
It’s a wonder this writer didn’t grow up to be a misogynist (at least, I hope he didn’t), given that the Sunday Telegraph was the paper of choice in our house growing up. A modern day reader certainly wouldn’t realise that them there lady types were actually allowed to do manly things like playing sport, given the pathetic lip service paid to the sporting efforts and achievements of a solid half of the world’s population by the paper. A twelfth page picture of Holly Bleasdale’s winning indoor vault accompanies an article entirely focussed on Toni Mininchello (Jessica Ennis’ inspirational coach), with a mere paragraph at the bottom dedicated to Bleasdale’s victory and Asha Philip’s return in the 60m, while a further paragraph in the ‘In Brief’ section is dedicated to the Fed Cup again and the same attention paid to Ireland’s victory over England in the women’s Six Nations yesterday.
Really, in Telegraph land, has the suffragette movement actually happened yet?
The Rugby Paper
It may or may not be the case that The Rugby Paper features this week because all the copies of The Mirror, The Sun and The Mail had sold out at our local supermarket. Quite what this says about the area this writer lives in, we’re not sure (apropos of nothing, there were hundreds of Times and Observers still there for the picking), but it hands a recall to The Rugby Paper after a number of weeks languishing in the reserves. Can it take its chance?
Well, it’s a qualified yes, with almost a whole page dedicated to the women’s Six Nations, this being the only paper to carry a report on France’s 32-0 victory over Wales, alongside the expected report on Ireland’s Alison Miller inspired victory in Dublin. And some expert analysis from former England women’s captain, Sue Day. How do you like that, Sunday Telegraph?
The Sunday Times
Our thoughts on The Sunday Times are pretty well known by now. In Sportist HQ, we may not always agree, but it’s been pretty damn clear that things have been getting better in the last six months or so.
And you know what? They’ve only gone and raised the bleedin’ bar again. The Ireland-England Six Nations game gets its anticipated match report (even if somewhat slight faux pas, avoided adroitly by The Rugby Paper, of naming Alison Miller man of the match sticks somewhat in the craw), but it really kicks into the top gears in the latter pages.
A profile piece on ‘Slalom’s teen queen’, Mikaela Shiffrin, the history-making member of the US skiing team (being the first ever American to win two World Cup events before her 18th birthday and the youngest woman to win three since legendary Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell in 1971) brings a refreshingly international feel to women’s sport coverage, and it’s further backed-up by a hyper-critical review of Charlotte Edwards’ World Cup captaincy for England and another piece on the Fed Cup tennis. And, just as that looks like all there will be for the week, a final, picture-panel-led introduction to 23-year old British Diving talent Tonia Couch makes the penultimate pages. It is a piece which heavily references Tom Daley, somewhat unsurprisingly, but the true draw is Couch herself. Who knows – if her progress continues on its current trajectory, what’s to say that she may not be the bigger story come Rio 2016?