Saturday, 21 May 2011

Sportswomen, what sportswomen?

Tomorrow there's a thrilling final of a Trans-Tasman sporting competition happening. Two teams, stacked with internationals from Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica and Samoa, will be battling out a fixture which pits the Australian (unbeaten all season) side against the New Zealand (first time in the finals in four years) side.

The best player in the league is playing for the Aussie team, lining up against a 19 year old kiwi who has impressed beyond all expectations this year. The best player in the Commonwealth Games final, whose last play won New Zealand a gold medal, will be lining up for the kiwi team, alongside the Samoan shooter with the best conversion rate (93%) in the league.

And this is what the sports page on Stuff looks like today:

Marina Erakovic and the New Zealand women's football team on up there. Yay.

But where's the bloody netball, Stuff? Go the Mystics.....


Amanda said...

The perception of women's sports in the media is just shyte. Black Ferns, World Cup holders? All butch aggressive lesbos who would kill you if you looked at them apparantly. If you want funding for a women's rugby team? Then you gotta strip for a nude calender.

I have this amazing idea for an all women's sports show. Half hour TV show like "Crowd Goes Wild", except produced, directed, presented, researched, and reported all by women, and about women's sports ONLY. I don't like sport that much, but I'd watch the SHIT outta that. Or even work for the show.

But then I guess you'd either a) get the "get yer tits out for us to be interested" response (who said it was for men anyway?!) b) get the "reverse sexism!" cry. Or both.

Story of O said...

Women's sport means short skirts and erections for men...get with the program lezzies.

Amanda said...

Geez O, classic. Prove my words MORE. *eyeroll* Did you happen to know that women *gasp* watch sport too.

Go pleasure a porcupine.

Amanda said...

Also, "lezzie" is not a perjorative, and your bigotry will not be accepted as such. I think you missed International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia earlier this week.

Brett Dale said...

The netball has been all over the news in the print/radio/ TV media.

According to TVNZ themselves, Netball is their third most important sport behind, Rugby and Cricket.

It's not so much being anti woman's sport, but about being biased towards certain sports and
the NewZealand media has a history of this.

Take a look at the Halbergs, during the 80's it was Susan Devoy that always won sports woman of the year, yet Erin Baker who was the top woman's triathlete never got a mentioned.

How anyone can anyone rank a squash player over a triathlete?

We have so many sport's woman taking on the world over various sport, but our media is obsessed with just two or three sports, it has nothing to do with the gender.

Take the week of the all whites game against Bahrain in 2009, leading up to this, the Press was reporting on that Dan Carter likes to dress up as Superman and Johan Lomu drove a woman to hospital.

So yes there are cases that woman's sport doesn't get enough media attention, our woman's basketballer's, our woman's footballers, our woman's track and field team, but believe me, netball has no right to complain about its lack of coverage.

Amanda said...

"it has nothing to do with the gender."

"netball has no right to complain about its lack of coverage."

Brett Dale said...

Amandas, nice links, but how about putting up some links to the amount of hours every sport gets on TV, how much print time is given in the papers to each sport, and how much radio.

I agree woman's sports teams get a raw deal in NewZealand, our footballers, Basketballers, Track and Field stars dont get any where near the press they should.

Disagree about Netball though, its all over the media, and as I said TVNZ held a meeting with the heads of the NZRFU, NZCricket and Netball New Zealand and virtually told them , that their sports will be foremost in their coverage.

I wish someone would take the media to task on their lack of coverage for the Tall Ferns, The white ferns and various other sporting codes, but if your a female and dont play netball dont expect any media coverage.

Like I said same happened in the 80's while Erin Baker was winning huge events overseas, the media basically paid no attention, but gushed over Susan Devoy.

BTW do you know who Angela Murno is??

Cara said...

I'm glad you posted about this. Compare the media coverage to an equal sort of competition, the basketball one which the NZ Breakers played in, which was in the news for days before and after. There has barely been a mention on Stuff, although there was a semi-decent story in the Dom Post.
It's just a shame that the media is constantly so biased in favour of men's sports. They really need to devote some decent space to other sports and more women's sports teams.

Brett Dale said...

Cara, the Breakers are involved in an Aussie run competition and became the first Nzl team to win an Aussie comp, that is why it made big news.

The super14 is NOT an aussie based comp, that is why the breakers were considered to be the first.

The Netball comp is run along the lines of the Super 14 its a multi country comp.

Perhaps a bigger question would be to ask, how come New Zealand's only team in the Aussie womans Basketball competition has had no coverage at all.

The Netball has lead most of tvnz sports news at night, (Unless there is a rugby Union game on)

I 100% agree woman's sport gets a raw deal, but Netball gets its fair share.

I bet no one here can name New Zealand's only WNBA player, heck they probably wouldnt know what the WNBA is.

Most people though could name every silver fern.

LudditeJourno said...

Hey Brett - I completely agree with you that compared to other sports played by women, netball gets more coverage. You're right, we know more about the Silver Ferns than other NZ women's sports teams.

But saying that's enough, is quite frankly, a nonsense. I did part of a university thesis on this, comparing women's cricket, rugby and netball coverages over World Cups in those sports. Netball got more articles, more pictures, more action photos, more analysis, more narratives - than the other two sports combined. BUT, and it's a big but, netball still had less coverage than other men's sports over the same period. Schoolboy sports get more coverage than womens' sports - not because more people are interested, but because they are played by young men.
Media research has put coverage of women's sports at about 10-12% in NZ for the last three decades

Every time I've written about sexism in sports coverage, I've been told that there's no such thing. Please check out the evidence.

Brett Dale said...

Hi, i read your articles and totally agree with you, Im afraid it seems it will always be the case, as long as sport Journalism is still controlled by the same group of journalists, if your a female cricketer dont expect a lot of coverage, even if we win the world cup it will be put to the back burner.

Surprised that Netball is still behind other sports in terms of its coverage.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's great advice, Brett. "The situation is as it is! Nothing will ever change as long as the current power structures are in play! End of story!"

Ever given a thought to the fact that people like LJ might be trying to change the present shitty situation, which they are already clearly aware of by raising and discussing the issues?

Or should we just close up shop on every single progressive issue in the world because oh well, as long as the same people stay in power there'll always be sexism/racism/homophobia/classism/ableism?

David S. said...

I've always thought this kind of criticism was misdirected, if justified at all.

People watch sport because they like competition, this is like complaining because local rugby doesn't get as much coverage as international rugby. More often than not men have an advantage over woman when it comes to physical competition. I'm not saying woman shouldn't play sport, but I don't know why competitive sport should be segregated*. The fact that woman are less likely to be competitive in a sport like rugby is no different than the fact that a Japanese man is less likely to be competitive than a Pacific Islander.

DNA is an integral part of what makes up a good athlete, this fact will always be visible when it comes to physical competition whether people discriminate or not.

The question is whether you think inter-personal competition is bad for society.

*That means I think woman should be able to compete in any sport they wish for any team, if they have the ability, just like any man.

Anonymous said...

I'm with David S. I think the less sexist way to handle things is definitely to eliminate women from sport altogether by pretending that having no segregation* would just be ~fair~. Because after all, the current setup of most sports, valuing attributes and areas of performance which most commonly favour men, has nothing to do with the patriarchal society in which said sport has developed ...

*That's a big difficult word and I'm sure we're all really grateful to David for mansplaining it to us so we didn't get confused and fall down.

LudditeJourno said...

Oh David,
please try and be a little more analytical than "boys are tougher". Which boys?
People watch sport because of competition, absolutely, but the kind of competition varies between sports. Saying "women will never be as fast and strong as men, therefore why should we watch them" ignores:
1. Lots of women are faster and stronger than lots of men. There's significant differences between genders as well as within genders. I am prepared to lay money that the average bloke would not be able to keep up with Temepara George, for example.
Additionally, different sports require different skill sets. That's why "gymnastics" had completely differently activities introduced to it when men started doing it (more strength and less flexibility based), because men were not as good as women on average, and we can't have that....
2. Men's sports are marketed in completely different ways to women's sports, all the time.
3. Women's sports coverage in mainstream press has gone down in the years since amalgamation of women's and men's sports - see the articles I referenced above - does this mean interest levels have gone down in women's sports in the last 30 years, or is something else going on?
4. When women's sport has stories told about it in mainstream press so people know the players, are aware of form patterns, and begin to care about who wins games, people watch it. Women's soccer in the USA when it first went professional would be the best example of that.
5. See the research the Listener did about this in 1989
They asked if people wanted more coverage of women's sports, people said yes, then they said people wouldn't watch women's sports.

I want to watch sports which feature competition, skill, and team play which transcends individual players. If you want to write or talk about whether inter-personal competition is good for society, go for it, but that's not what this post is about.

LudditeJourno said...

Brett - cheers - I know, I was surprised too about netball cf men's sports. I think it's that weird phenomena of "of look there's a couple of minority things/people I can see/hear, must be equal."

Amanda said...

Wow, David S broke out gender AND race essentialism? Claaaaasy.

Try again.

Captcha: derie

Brett Dale said...


I didnt say dotn try and change things, I was stating that things wont change, we have had generation after generation of Journos who have have been biased, and this generation is the same, do what you can to change things, but beleive me it will be like getting blood out of a stone.

Boganette said...

Gosh QoT - He's not saying don't do it! He's saying there is no point in doing it because HE knows nothing will change. If you want to fight things like this HE thinks that's OK - totally pointless but like totally OK.

Because it's all about ummmm "biased" journos? And definitely not about sexism or anything like that. Yawn.

Brett Dale said...

Its not pointless, write letters, contact the media, do what has to be done,Ive written ton of letters asking why the Tall Ferns get no coverage or the football ferns get no coverage.

Yes there is a ton of sexism in terms of sport and the media here, a huge part of it though is how the media just wants to concentrate on a small number of sports.

They may deem some sport to be in competition with their favorites so any success in those sports are played down.

So there is many factors, sexism is one of them, protecting certain codes may be another.

David S. said...

"Saying "women will never be as fast and strong as men, therefore why should we watch them"

Except I never said that.

1. Lots of women are faster and stronger than lots of men."

Yes, like me. I'm 5'8 and weigh 50kg. Party due to ongoing medical problems, partly due to the fact that all the men on my mother's side were skinny.

MOST woman who engage in sport are more proficient at it than I could ever be. I'm not going to complain that there's no sporting league for me, and if there was, I wouldn't expect it to get as much coverage as the AB's.

I find the term "mansplaining" to be incredibly sexist. I was clarifying a point, a waste of time apparently. I don't believe there should be "womans sports" or "mens sports", just "sports".

Most men can't compete at the highest levels of competition, and a lot of it has to do with factors beyond their control. I don't know why you think it's valid to treat woman differently for the exact same reason.

"Because after all, the current setup of most sports, valuing attributes and areas of performance which most commonly favour men, has nothing to do with the patriarchal society in which said sport has developed ..."

This is probably the only valid bit of criticism I've received so far, The most popular sports do tend to be the ones that emphasise physical strength. I dunno, I'll have to think about this one.

Boganette said...

'I find the term "mansplaining" to be incredibly sexist'

- Could you mansplain to us why the term mansplaining is sexist? But don't use too many big words unless you're going to explain the meaning of them to us.

Sorry for the derail LJ. I couldn't help myself!

Anonymous said...

If David doesn't want to be called a mansplainer he could try not being a condescending jackass who assumes women have no idea what they're talking about and need big words explained to them ... i.e. a mansplainer.

David S. said...

Firstly, how do you know that explaining what I mean has anything to do with the fact that I'm talking to woman? How do you know I wouldn't do the same thing if you were men? The reality is the content of my post had nothing to do with it the sex of the person(s) I was responding to.

Secondly, despite explaining what I meant, neither Amanda nor LudditeJourno understood what I wrote, so If anything I didn't explain myself well enough.

I always try to explain what I mean as well as I can because I think it's better to over-explain than to have people potentially misunderstand me.

You've assigned a tone to my post and assume that you understand the reasoning behind it. But you're wrong.

Julie said...

Time for a small chill pill folks, I can see why David S's comments feel mansplainy, and I think that there is some genuineness from him too. If LuddsyJ reads it differently then that is totally her call too; in her absence this is mine until she says otherwise.

I find the whole issue about ditching the gender segregation of sport interesting. I think there is a bias towards sports reflecting more stereotypically male physical competencies - a reflection of the fact that competitive sport was for centuries considered unladylike in many cultures. It's evolved socially in a way based on that history. Which doesn't mean we can't change that, but it will take effort and time, and not least acknowledging it in the first place.

I don't know enough about the differences in physiology. Off the top of my head I wonder about whether we can compete regardless of gender at sports like billiards?

The other thing that gets to me is the way that sporting prowess is so entwined with manliness, for men, and very rarely portrayed as feminine for women.