Coverage of women’s sport in Aotearoa is pretty poor, and has actually decreased with men’s and women’s sports such as soccer and cricket amalgamating over the last decade.
Judy McGregor, human rights commissioner and media analyst, has researched coverage of women’s sports here. She says the sports media defend the out-of-whack coverage of women’s sports by saying that men who watch sport only want to watch men’s sports.
Odd when more women in New Zealand participate and watch sport than most places.
This debate’s been going on for a while – way back in 1989 the Listener surveyed female readers – and they resoundingly said they wanted to see more coverage of women’s sport. Sportswriter Joseph Romanos countered by saying he:
doubt[ed] whether, with all the goodwill in the world, it would be possible to whip up public enthusiasm for one-day women’s cricket, whether it received blanket television coverage or not.
Ask the women what they want, and when they tell you, tell them they don’t want it. Mmm.
Anyhow – the Olympics are here – did you know?
So over the next few weeks at least you will be seeing women performing athletic near-miracles on a screen near you…and it will make a welcome change for us sports-lovers who don’t think women should be relegated to making the afternoon tea. Or performing cheers in bikinis for muscley sportsmen.
I’m not just making this up – a 2005 study of Olympic coverage in four European countries showed that the rates of coverage by the media matched percentages of women participating in sport in those countries. Only for the Olympics though. The authors decided the reason was nationalism – women playing sport aren’t newsworthy until they are winning medals for us apparently – then they’re our women playing sport.
Just today in the SST we have the hockey women losing their first match; the Evers-Swindell twins winning their first heat; the Football Ferns taking a tough Norwegian team close; NZ swimmers both female and male struggling to keep up; Marina Erakovic’s thoughts on competing….well, you get the general idea.
This sports lover says bring it on.