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Words from Walstead: Women in Sport

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Grace shares her feelings about why women’s sport only gets 4% of sports media coverage.

Women’s participation and access to sport has dramatically changed in recent years. It is easy to forget that it was only fifty years ago when Katherine Switzer made history by circumventing the ban that prevented women from competing in a marathon. Since then, women can compete in marathons unimpeded and some of the best marathon runners are women. It has become such a popular sport for women that in 2018, according to the Association of Athletics Federation, for the first time ever, there were more females than males competing in marathons.

However, it isn’t all good; there are still too many obstacles that women who play sports must face. For example, often they are paid less than their male counterparts and often have to juggle more than one job as well as their professional sport. For example, British ladies’ football teams have played successfully and been paid less prize money than their male counterparts. They face the challenges of less marketing and promotion, lower sponsorship and the lack of media coverage for women.

But why do women get less media coverage than men? Women’s sports only receive 4% of media coverage. This is supposedly firstly, due to the lack of interest from the public and therefore sponsors; and secondly, the notion that media outlets do not make as much money from women as they do from men. However, research has proven that, out of the general sports fan population, 84% are interested in women’s sports. So logically, it should make sense to increase the market share of media coverage to a higher share.

The additional money could be used to improve sporting facilities and to improve the finances of current professional sportswomen. It has been argued that sportsmen get paid so much now that rather than being inspirational and doing it because they love it, it has become about the money – maybe it would be better for everyone ton cap salaries and share the benefits.

Research shows that interest in women’s sport is much higher when women’s and men’s’ events are stage together, with tennis being the best example. In our school life, as girls, we have the same access as boys do to sport. Women’s sport has developed so that we now have professional teams represented in all the major sports. Given all the research that shows sport and physical exercise to be vital to our physical and mental health, I believe it is important that our leaders do more to promote women’s sport.

I believe that women’s sport needs to make itself increasingly marketable and not be afraid to make changes, if they improve the game – some have suggested smaller goals for football etc. Instinctively, I would not be supportive of these possible changes, but they do need to be considered if we want to increase our share of media coverage form 4%, and the popularity of women’s sports.

Grace, Year 7

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