Women’s Sport vs The Media – 24.02.13


This week’s paper review got off to a terrible start when yours truly strolled up to the supermarket to find the newspaper racks entirely empty, save a single copy of the Daily Star Sunday.  Even The Sportist has higher standards than that, though, and after a mad dash around the local shops, an almost full complement of papers were sourced for the purposes of our weekly rants.  I say ‘almost full’ as despite our best efforts, we could not find a single copy of The Sunday Times.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to forgive myself.


The Mail on Sunday

Eugh, let’s get this over with, shall we?  I’m just going to take a deep breath and plow on through.  Unsurprisingly for a newspaper that seems to believe that women exist only to gratify the world’s male population, there’s not very much by way of a focus on women’s sport.  That said, a good three quarters of a page is dedicated to Becky James’ victory in the Individual Sprint World Championship, with a nice sidebar article on Laura Trott’s challenge for the Omnium title, an event she memorably won at the London 2012 Olympics. 

Men’s cycling earns a brief mention at the bottom of the main article, which makes a change to the norm.  Women promoted over men?  We can only assume the Mail readership will be up in arms this weekend.

The Sunday Telegraph

Oh for goodness sake.  This is just insulting.  As per The Mail on Sunday, only one element of women’s sport gets a mention, Becky James’ assumption of Victoria Pendleton’s role as the queen of British Sprint cycling.  It’s a short, short article in a long, long sports section.  Is the Telegraph wilfully ignorant or just entirely unaware?  Either way, poor form.

The Sunday Mirror

Oh goodness me, this week’s been dreadful so far, and the likelihood of things picking up in the far-from-hallowed pages of The Sunday Mirror seems relatively minimal.  Here goes.  The paper’s main sport pages (though whether they can be considered ‘main’ is seriously debatable; it’s shorter than the dedicated football supplement and is still at least half focussed on football anyway) carry a single mention of women’s sport, three short paragraphs on Becky James’ victory in the etc. etc. etc.

The women’s football paragraph also appears in its usual residence at the top of page 15 of the paper’s football pullout, this week focussing on Leeds’ fourth round FA Cup tie against Watford and birthday girl, right back Emma Lipman.

The Independent on Sunday

We like the Independent’s sports pullout.  Unlike those offered by the Times and the Telegraph, it’s not a ridiculously unwieldy broadsheet size, which means we get to sit and enjoy it while drinking our eighteenth cup of coffee of the day, safe in the knowledge that no unnoticed corner of the paper will end up leisurely lapping up our caffeine fuel for the day.  It’s also unsurprisingly well-written, which is probably more important than the coffee travesty.

Good as the paper is, though, it’s women’s sport coverage is still disappointingly low key.  A half page on Becky James’ cycling heroics gets the now expected mention, while a paragraph on Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s applications to head up one of UK Sport and Sport England gets a mention, naming Ed Warner, Chair of British Athletics, as her strongest competition for either one of the jobs.  The cycling gets another mention in the Sport on TV column, but only after the men’s travails have been detailed, while the week ahead in sport is apparently an entirely male (and primarily footballing) agenda. Hmph.

The Observer

Hello, Observer, faithful friend.  We’re so glad you’ve come along to the party.  Things start pretty well indeed with this being the only of the selected papers to cover England’s second defeat of an experimental Six Nations campaign against France, losing 30-20 at Twickenham.  Given that the match was covered on the BBC in both televised and radio commentary formats, for The Observer to be the only paper to cover it is frankly shocking.  Kudos to Sarah Mockford for her report in any case.

 Becky James and her cycling compatriots, of course, take a mention which includes a welcome pen portrait of exciting newcomer Elinor Baker who, at only 18 years old, looks well placed to be a breakthrough star in the run up to the 2016 Olympics. 

Finally the back pages give us news of Jenny Meadows’ return to competition as captain of the British Indoor team, bidding to take the first steps towards qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympics and Danick Patrick’s forthcoming bid to win the Daytona 500, which has the potential to turn one of the world’s most misogynistic sports on its sexist, sexist head.  We know whose side of the court we’re on.


Just a quick mention of a few things media and coming week related.  First of all, one of The Sportist’s housemates returned from a 3 week holiday in Sydney this weekend and proceeded to relate the story of how the city’s equivalent of the Metro, its daily free commuter paper, dedicated a 2 page spread to women’s sport every single day that they were there.  Perhaps we’ve got something to learn from those Aussies after all.

On which note, Alan Swann, Chief Sports Writer of the Peterborough Telegraph, caused some stir on Twitter earlier this week after his article for the paper entitled ‘World of Sport: Sorry ladies, but you are very dull’ was picked up by, amongst others, WSFF.  We won’t link to the article as it doesn’t deserve the oxygen of publicity, but it’s a pure reaction piece full of entirely outdated, pathetically insular views on women’s sport.  We’re not surprised that there are people that hold these views – we’ve all met them, after all – but the fact that the Peterborough Telegraph pays to associate itself with this type of tripe is seriously disappointing.

Finally, this week’s first FA WSL preview will be delayed until Tuesday to make space for a report on the Cycling World Championships.  Dollars to donuts, I’ll bet that Becky James gets a mention….


Image from http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/ (thanks)


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