Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Sexist, selfish or just plain ignorant?...

...Why does the media not cover women's sport?

The main issue is that the public are influenced by the media and if the media aren't willing to expand their coverage of women's sports, there will constantly be a lack of funding and interest. My main focus is on women's football, as football is the world's most popular sport.

It is a well known fact that women's football gets less support from the grassroots level of coaching and playing the game, up to the the professional levels in terms of being paid less and receiving less publicity than their male counterparts. 

Role models play a key role in the future of the sport, players/coaches/journalists/officials can all influence young girls who aspire to get involved, but they need the media's help to boost the profile of the women's game. Too often we are reminded in magazines and on television that sport/exercise helps us get leaner thighs, flatter abs and makes us more attractive. The emphasis needs to focus on the enjoyment of sport, the teamwork side and the general health benefits you can receive by participating.

On a similar level, from a young age, children are pushed in the direction of gender stereotypes. Boys are naturally associated with playing football and computer games. Whereas girls are expected to play 'mum' to a stuffed doll and paint their nails a pretty shade of pink. I'm not saying this is the case for all children, but it's certainly a common misconception. I recall being at high school and a group of us pushed for a girls football team to be created. We had spent the previous 3 years at middle school playing netball/hockey/rounders/athletics, whilst the boys played rugby/football/athletics. It was only because we persistently forced the issue, that an English teacher stepped forward to volunteer run the team. As far as I'm aware, that high school has since always had a girls football team (10 years later on).

From that young age, I only knew of Mia Hamm and Kelly Smith in the world of women's football and I was desperate to play for England women's team. I knew nothing about how to get into playing football for a team or even how to watch it on TV. It's this sort of experience that many girls across the country, even the world, find themselves having. It's only now that the grassroots side of the game is improving, with The FA pushing more campaigns to boost female players and coaches.

But as for TV, magazines, newspapers and the internet, more needs to be done. The same old excuse always arises, there's not enough funding for women's football coverage. That's because there's not enough being done to highlight the game, for example look at the recent FAWSL and Euro championships, very little was done to promote these events. The FA and BBC are covering more matches and news stories, but other media groups need to be doing the same if football is to ever move forward out of it's sexist, male-dominated representation. 

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