Better coverage is critical to women’s sports developing

Female sports face an uphill battle because some believe their games are of lesser quality and slower paced
Better coverage is critical to women’s sports developing

ICONS: Katie Taylor celebrates after the fight with Irish soccer international Katie McCabe. Picture: INPHO/Matchoom Boxing/Mark Robinson

IT’S hard to imagine a day that goes by where we don’t hear about a male sports team in this country.

From updates on injuries to the latest signings, or to more generally how their season is going for them at the moment.

On the other end of the spectrum is women’s sports, in which you almost have to search for information, and only for a person being invested in this material, you would probably give up.

Becoming a successful sportswoman can be complicated with many aspects affecting them such as a lack of funding, no extra supports, and how society views them.

Many people seem to judge sportswomen on their physical appearance rather than their abilities as an athlete.

Society and the media seem to have perpetrated the notion that extreme slenderness is the most enviable body type, so when a women of a different body type is seen they are judged. Why should their bodies be under such scrutiny when they are trying to perform at the highest level of sport?

Performance should be the only concern of any woman competing in sports, not how their physique looks. Men are applauded for strength and fitness, and it should be no different for female athletes.

We have some of the most astonishing sportswomen in Ireland, but yet their achievements seem to be forgotten about most of the time.

HerSport, one of the biggest advocates for female sports in the country, released a chilling video with the hashtag ‘DOITFORHER’.

ASTONISHING

The video focused on a group of young girls who were presented with photos of well-known sportswomen like Katie Taylor, Leona Maguire, and Ellen Keane. The majority of girls could not name these athletes, but once a photo of Conor McGregor was shown to them, they had no problem naming him.

This astonishing video basically sums up women’s sport in Ireland, and the problem it faces to gain any foothold against its male counterparts.

All of these sportswomen mentioned in the HerSport video are well-established athletes and not even their names have circulated to younger generations of females.

Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw and Denise O'Sullivan of Republic of Ireland. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw and Denise O'Sullivan of Republic of Ireland. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

This problem can also be linked to the limited amount of media coverage that is allocated to them. Within this coverage is a lacklustre broadcasting approach. Women’s games are some of the most exciting and thrilling affairs, but yet the coverage they receive is often boring.

It is obvious then why so many people choose to watch men’s games, as their commentary and analyses is better, or simply the graphics are more enticing to viewers. Why can’t this simple change like updating graphics or photos on shows be made to attract more people to watch women’s sports?

Media companies seem to always return to the statement that coverage has to stay with whatever sport is of high interest to their viewers, but how can women’s sports develop interest levels if there is no coverage?

It is estimated that there is only one article about women’s sport for every 53 about men. How is it possible to grow interest with a statistic like that?

More has to be done in every form of media to promote sportswomen who continue to break barriers and set records in their chosen sports.

INCREDIBLE

In Ireland, we have some of the most incredible female athletes in a range of sports from niche sports like boxing, golf, and sailing, to team sports like football, GAA, and hockey. Even when women win titles in these sports their accomplishments seem to be downplayed or compared to a male in the same sport.

The goal should not be to contrast women against men in their chosen sports, but to promote both genders equally. The notion that women’s sports is simply not at the skill level of their male counterparts also has to change.

Female sports face an uphill battle in terms of trying to get more spotlight shone on them purely because people are of the opinion that their games are of lesser quality or that they are played at a slower pace.

Until this assumption is changed or altered, women’s sports will always be on the backburner.

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