Women’s Sport vs. the Media – Newspaper Roundup

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David Bowie doesn’t have a huge amount to do with women’s sport.  In fact, this writer would go so far as to say Britain’s most inventive musician of the past 100 years (yeah, I’m a fan) has absolutely nothing to do with women’s sport at all.  Yet having spent yesterday morning strolling through the V&A’s record-breaking retrospective, this weekend’s media review is being written to an unashamedly Bowie-flavoured soundtrack.  We’ll try not to let this become another Australian Open Preview travesty though.  Promise.

The Sunday Times

The Sportist knows its readership well enough by now to realise that the burning question on everyone’s minds each week concerns our writing methods.  “How do they do it?”, we hear you cry, and so it’s high time for a little bit of insight into the inner workings of a blogging giant.  The truth is – hold your breaths here people, we’re through the looking glass – we write this column in rotation.  Which might explain our somewhat mixed relationship with The Sunday Times.  Do we hate it?  Do we think it’s the best thing since sliced bread?  Perhaps we just can’t decide between us.  Or perhaps the paper itself has a serious case of the ‘Jekylls and Hydes’.  Some weeks it might just be the next saviour of women’s sport writing in Britain, on others it seems to forget that there’s this actual thing called women’s sport.  You know, that thing where ladies actually go and play sport and suchlike.  You’ve probably heard about it.  It’s in the Sunday Times sometimes.  Not this week, though, where the paper opts not to write a single word about it.

Separately from the main sport section, The Sunday Times publishes its Sport Rich List 2013 today.  We’re not going to cover this is any depth, save to quote directly from one short section, covering the World Top 20 based on earnings and sponsorship: “…It is also a decidedly male list with not a single female sports star.  The nearest is 26-year-old tennis player Maria Sharapova, with a £65m fortune.”  Sigh.

The Sunday Mirror

In some ways, the Newspaper Roundup is a little bit like church.  Okay, it’s not much like church at all (although writing it does provoke the occasional cry of ‘oh, for God’s sake’ normally accompanied by slamming a paper that refuses to cover women’s sport down onto the floor in frustration), but in two respects there are some similarities.  Firstly, it happens primarily on Sundays.  Secondly, there’s a part of it that’s exactly the same each week.  Just like singing from the hymn sheet.  The Sunday Mirror is The Sportist‘s hymn sheet.  Nothing to report, except for the weekly paragraph on women’s football in the top-right hand corner of page 15, today regarding Sophie Bradley’s role in the FA Cup Semi Final where her Lincoln Ladies team will face Bristol Academy.  Amen.

The Independent on Sunday

Football, football, football, football – fully 11 pages, a solid half of the sports section on football, followed by two pieces we were pleased to see, though hardly pleased to read.  Firstly Alan Hubbard’s ‘Inside Lines’ column which calls Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s non-appointment as chair of Sport England (she was overlooked for the post in favour of London Marathon Chief Executive, Nick Bitel) a ‘ruthless piece of gazumping’ and lays the blame firmly at the feet of ‘the vengeful Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, who when Minister for the Disabled, was given a serious going-over by the Paralympian peer’.

Second, with the European Judo Championships in Budapest, David McNeill reports on the resignation of Ryuji Sonoda, head coach of Japan’s female London 2012 judoka and the shocking revelations regarding training methods employed on the country’s female competitors, including being ‘slapped, pushed, kicked and sometimes [beaten] with bamboo sticks during training sessions’.  The apparent culture of bullying amongst training of elite female athletes within the wider Japanese sporting system (basketball has also been caught up in the scandal) seems on the verge of blowing wide open and reveals a terribly disturbing underbelly to methods at the highest levels.  The Independent is to be applauded for reporting on an issue which makes uncomfortable but crucial reading.

The Sunday Telegraph

Oh, hey, it’s The Sunday Telegraph!  Oh, hey, it’s really no mention of women’s sport whatsoever!  Okay, not quite true.  There’s a paragraph on Wales’ Natalie Powell taking 7th place in the European Judo Championships, the best result for British Judo in the competition’s final day.  So there.

The Observer

The first thing to mention here is not so much about women in sport as women in sport’s journalism, and that’s as follows: the very first journalist with a by-line mention in The Observer this week is Louise Taylor, the Guardian’s North-East football correspondent, whose report on Newcastle’s 6-0 defeat to Liverpool forms the headline lead in this week’s sport section.  And isn’t it great to see a female sports journalist on the front page?  Lovely.

Staying in the realms of football, there’s a full page feature from probably our favourite national journalist of the moment, Anna Kessel on the Professional Footballers’ Association, its attitude to women, its first incidence of delivering a Women’s Player of the Year award and a woman who took monumental steps towards changing the PFA’s approach to women, Rachel Anderson.  For regular readers, Anderson’s name may bear some familiarity: the Independent on Sunday ran a superb article on her back in March, that we heavily covered in our March 31st Media Review.

Kessel’s piece is both a superb character piece on Anderson herself (a woman with a ‘light-hearted attitude…[towards] football’s archaic views on women’ responsible for ‘arguably the single most influential act that a woman in the industry has undertaken’) and an insight into the impact of changes that she has been firmly responsible for.  We could link to the article (it’s available freely on the Guardian website), but we’re not going to for one simple reason: this is the sort of journalism for which papers deserve to be bought, so we’re just going to advise that you go out and buy The Observer.  Worth every penny.

The women on the PFA’s shortlist for Women’s Player of the Year, by the way, are Gemma Davison (Arsenal), Toni Duggan (Everton), Jess Fishlock (Seattle Reign), Kim Little (Arsenal), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal) and Jodie Taylor (Gothenburg/Birmingham).  We’ll bring you news of the winner in our weekly football roundup next week.

CS

Image from sportwales.org.uk – Thank you!!

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