|Katherine Grainger (left) with Anna Watkins |
Last week a cross bench group of MP's presented a report on women's sport which told us, as if we didn't know already, that women's sport is sidelined, underfunded and ignored. It didn't take much effort I suspect to come to this conclusion, a cursory glance through any daily newspaper will reveal that Britain apparently only likes to see female athletes once every four years. It's not just newspapers, but radio and television as well. Again this isn't new, Jane Garvey once commented that Radio Five Live should have been renamed Radio Bloke such was the domination of men both in front and behind the microphones.
One of the Government's key features of the summer was to leave a 'legacy' to future generations, I think that it's the now that needs concentrating on rather than the future. The revelation that only 12% of girls aged 14 are taking the minimum amount of recommended daily exercise is shocking and will leave a legacy much more telling than a few medals at Rio and beyond. Again this isn't anything new and whilst any attempts to make more people take part in compulsory education whilst they are in full time education should be backed and supported there should be more education as to why this is important.
I don't think the lack of coverage of women's sport is in itself entirely down to men either. A lot of women I know would crawl on hands and knees across broken glass away from women's sport to see a male equivalent and that's because women's sport is generally presented as simply a female version of a man's game rather than an event in its own right. If you watch Sky sports you will be familiar with a host of female presenters who aren't just a group of pretty faces but who know their specialist sports, unfortunately they are male sports. Women's football is covered by Sky, ESPN and BBC and has plans to expand next year but it's problem is, like male football was before Italia 90, that spectators are almost exclusively the same sex as the participants, it needs to become less inclusive.
Four days after the report was made public the number of pages devoted to women's sport in the two newspapers I have read yesterday and today is two. Asking for there to be more coverage of what at present is simply a minority interest despite being played by a large number of competitors who represent 50% of the population smacks of quota filling rather than letting spectators, newspaper editors and the public decide for themselves.