We knew this week wasn’t necessarily going to be the easiest for our mainstream media to cover women’s sporting activity. It’s been a bit…well…quiet. Not silent, of course, with the Cyprus Cup continuing, the announcement of PFA membership opportunities for FA WSL players (about time), the women’s six nations and the general coverage generated by International Women’s Day on Friday ensuring there should be something for the papers to write about this Sunday. Right?
The Sunday Express
Oh, this is bad. This is really bad. I’m pretty certain the Sunday Express is actually some sort of Russian Doll in paper-based form. Every section has another section ‘FREE INSIDE’! The sport section is ‘FREE INSIDE’ the main paper. So far, so normal. Yet open up the sport section, and what’s this?! The Financial pullout ‘FREE INSIDE’! I’m not going to lie, readers, I tore the Financial section into tiny little pieces looking for whatever was ‘FREE INSIDE’ there, but it seems nothing comes for free from the financial world. I’ve changed my mind, the Sunday Express isn’t a Russian Doll at all. It’s a carefully orchestrated commentary on the emptiness of an economy built on financial products and theory. Remarkable!
What isn’t so remarkable is the paper’s utter refusal to even contemplate the coverage of women’s sport, for there is barely a single word to be read. There is a tiny little section on equine trainer Laura Mongan, who trained Imperial Cup winner First Avenue. The section helpfully mentions that she’s married to a jockey, though, which is clearly far more important than her own achievement. It’s good to know that women can still only be talked about so long as their husband is mentioned.
The Sunday Telegraph
I read it once. I read it twice. I was about to throw it down in disgust when, to my astonishment, it appeared! A paragraph on women’s sport! Will wonders never cease?! Seriously, though, The Sunday Telegraph this week deem us worthy of two sentences on the women’s Six Nations, noting England’s 34-0 victory over Italy and its confirmation of Ireland as Six Nations champions. Sunday Telegraph, this is pathetic.
The Sun on Sunday
I read it once. I read it twice. I was about to throw it down in disgust when, to my astonishment, it app……no, of course it didn’t. Not a word. Not a single word. In Sun on Sunday land, women exist only as figures of ridicule to appear on Page 3, or to be unceremoniously character assassinated. This is the world’s worst newspaper.
We all know how this one goes, don’t we? After a week of blanket dreadful coverage, The Observer rides into town, stetson down over its eyes, a bandana covering its mouth and six-shooters slung casually at its side to sort out this damn-crooked town.
Well, it does so again. First, there’s the match report, a genuine, there-in-writing match report on England’s Six Nations victory over Italy yesterday. It’s almost like someone felt this was an event worthy of mainstream coverage. Then there’s worrying news from Nigeria’s women’s football community, where the President of the female professional league (and, before we get into the concerns, let’s just bask for a moment in the fact that Nigeria actually has a professional women’s football league and has had a women’s association since 1979!!), Dilichukwu Onyedinma has committed to ‘disqualify any player associated with lesbianism’. From the sublime to the painfully-insultingly-ridiculous. Eugh.
There’s also mention of Suzi Perry’s appointment to head of the BBC’s Formula One programming, with Jake Humphrey having made the move to BT Sport, which gives us another woman at the forefront of mainstream media sports coverage. In a superb bit of planning, Humphrey will now be working with everybody’s favourite face-of-sport, Clare Balding as the other chief presenter at BT Sport. Women in the sports media. Whatever next?
There’s also time for the Observer to squeeze in a quite brilliant Simpsons joke in its football coverage. Which isn’t strictly to do with women’s sport, but brought a smile to my face this morning.
So, grand work, horse-riding, stetson-wearing Observer. You’re basically the less Republican, less chair-shouty media version of Clint Eastwood. Which, I’m sure, is the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to a newspaper.
The Sunday Times
Does any newspaper divide opinion in Sportist Towers quite like The Sunday Times? No, is the answer. No, it does not. This week is a pretty good showing from the high brow Murdoch division, though, where it is essentially better than everything except The Observer. To continue the Western metaphor, The Sunday Times is the essentially good but slightly ineffective Deputy who is pulled into action to fight alongside out honourable outlaw, The Observer, once it rides into town.
Anyway, onto actual women’s sport, and the paper gives us a headline article on Ratchanok Intanon’s achievement in becoming the first Thai women’s singles player to reach an All England Badminton final when she defeated India’s Saina Nehwal 21-15, 21-19. At just 18 years of age, Intanon will fight it out for the title today in Birmingham. On the same page is gloomier news of Elise Christie’s defeat in the semi-finals of the 500m World Short-Track Speed Skating Championships, just a day after a collision knocked her out of the 1500m final. She retains one final chance at a medal from these championships, in her favoured 1,000m distance.
There’s also a fascinating column on Julie Williams, daughter of famed racecourse bookmaker Freddie, who has taken on the family business after her father’s death in 2008. It’s a different face to women in sport and one we certainly don’t get to see very often.
There’s also a tiny box on England’s Six Nations victory yesterday, which is only worth mention because three of today’s papers entirely failed to acknowledge it. Sigh.