I like watching women’s sport. The Opals, Diamonds, Matildas, cyclists, athletes, skiers, surfers are not only good to watch, but they also do a lot of winning, which Aussies tend to like! But if we read the ‘news’, it seems women don’t actually play sport.
I’ve surveyed the online sports stories of The Age to confirm my anecdotal views. I waited till footie was out of the way to try to reduce any bias. Over the week from 9-16 October, there were 247 stories published involving a person, group or team or sport. Of these, 231 (94%) were about men and only a miserable 16 (6%) were about women. It’s a short survey period, but it accords with my expectations. Actually it is even worse. Women don’t play sport it seems…
I checked The Guardian Australia online sports over the same period. Maybe a more international view might be more equitable I thought. Actually the results there were even worse. Only 5% of 172 stories were about women’s sport. (Perhaps not surprising that there were more sports stories in the Aussie publication, but I did think an international perspective from a socially progressive international publication might have a wider field of writing. Not so, it seems.)
Combined, these two results would suggest it is not about seasonality or seasons. Women must be playing sport somewhere on the planet! But not according to these august publications!!
Targets for women’s sports coverage?
They are talking about having targets for women in management, on boards and elsewhere. Perhaps we should seek some kind of equity in sports coverage.
Even the sports themselves are getting it in Australia. The W-League and WNBL have some of the best women in the world playing and being watched. Netball crowds are exceeding some NRL and rugby union attendances. Even the AFL is setting up a national women’s league now.
Would 20% – only 1 in 5 – be a reasonable short term expectation? That’s more than triple the current percentage! When I was a sports editor of a university student paper in the last century, we would have achieved that!
Why aren’t women complaining?
A very good question. Perhaps it is low on their very long list of equity grievances. Yet one of the ways in which women in this society can be seen as equals is through the quality of their sport and particularly their international achievements and this ought to be covered, particularly by media which claim to be concerned with gender equity.
Many of the articles during a week are not even news. They are merely expectations of upcoming matches or events. This is just speculation. There is plenty of space to offer to women’s sport, especially for real results. We should be proud of our champions and for those who strive to become champions. And, anyway, ‘space’ and ‘cost’ are not really relevant any more. Many writers write for free (like me) or for very low cost. You could publish 100 or 1,000 articles a day too, as there is no real ‘space’ to compete for, as there used to be in the printed newspaper.
Come on boys of the press! Have another look at what you are reporting in sports. Do we really need 57 stories on expectations of the football draft and none on our current women champions??