Wednesday, September 08, 2010

If you are looking for women, don’t look on the sports page

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 08 September 2010)

Columnist’s Note: I am on vacation this week, so I have resurrected this column from August 3, 2007 because it speaks to an ongoing issue I see when it comes to women and sports. Enjoy the read.

I do not like golf very much. If I am going to watch a sport, it needs to have a lot more action to keep me interested for a long period of time – like volleyball or a swimming competition. Otherwise, I will be off to find something else to do that can maintain my short attention span.

However, although I do not like golf – I do become interested in sports in general when women start making the headlines on sports pages around the world. Otherwise, I would not give any sports page much more than a cursory glance.

Why should I give the sports page any attention – or for that matter a sports report from a news show on television? I probably have more pencils in my desk drawer than there have been articles on women athletes in my local newspaper this year.
I keep up on the news every day.

I watch or listen to the local, national and international news – just to keep up on what’s going on around me. A few weeks ago I was watching a local newscast in which all of the news stories had been covered, the feel good piece was done and the weather had been forecast, so guess what time it was? It was time for the sports report.

There was basketball, baseball and football – all of which have professional teams that are populated only by men. Click.

The television was turned off and I strolled to my computer to browse the Internet for a while. It’s not that I cannot watch something that involves men and omits women, it’s just that I simply don’t care to do so.

However, if more attention were paid to female volleyball or to women’s football, my television would remain on during a sportscast. Really now, is it so difficult to include at least one article a day about women athletes on the sports page? If there is one place where the old boys club still exists – it is in the sports page.

Sure, every once in a great while there will be an article on a women’s team or a spotlight on a female athlete, but those articles are the exception, not the rule. If sports editors want to increase their readership, there is a whole section of the population biting at the bit for some interesting sports stories about the world’s excellent female athletes.

The stories about these female athletic champions go untold in most newspapers today, while the world heralds the male athletes for even insignificant activities.
One might suggest that the lack of reporting on female sports has to do with the lack of females who play sports.

However, there are women playing every type of sports – even boxing and skydiving – and still very little is ever said about it. Moreover, I maintain that the lack of females on professional sports teams has to do with the lack of professional sports teams for females.

It is all about the male dominated teams of football, basketball, cricket, baseball, golf, hockey, etc. Where there is no team, there is no opportunity and women are sidelined to obscurity. Be that as it may, this has not stopped women from becoming outstanding athletes. The biggest difference is that the whole world knows who Joe Jock had sex with last night but the female athlete who just broke a world record goes unheralded.

It seems completely absurd to me that one complete section of the newspaper highlights male physical accomplishments and at the same time very seldom does the same for female physical accomplishments.

I bet that for every 50 males mentioned in the sports section of a newspaper or in a sportscast on television, there is maybe one female.

This is insulting to women each and every time a woman picks up a newspaper or turns on a sportscast. The sports page signifies one more place where women are made to seem insignificant when in fact they are every bit as competitive and athletic as men.

Until sports writers and sports editors start taking female athletes more seriously, my television will continue to go “click” when the sportscast comes on and the sports page will continue to get a cursory glance from me – if that.

There is actually only one reason I even glance at the sports page at all and that is to see if there are any stories that will be of interest to me. To be more precise, I’m looking for that elusive article on a female athlete. This is what I want to know about – what a woman can do – after all, I am a woman.

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