SBS Radio News
The SBS MP3 Player requires the Adobe Flash 8 Plugin. You can get Flash from here...
Radio News Bulletin
Where's the recognition? Female athletes sidelined
02 March 2013, 12:10 PM | Source: bk
Imagine the shock on my fiancee’s face on Tuesday when she read that the new face of Rebel Sport wasn’t in fact an athlete of any kind, but instead the wife of Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke.
Kyly Clarke, the model and former weather presenter on Foxtel, was the new face of a sporting brand which could – nay, should – have chosen any one of hundreds of simply outstanding sportswomen.
Olympic and world champions Sally Pearson or Anna Meares?
Southern Stars’ cricketer and Matildas’ soccer player Elysse Perry?
Five-time world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore?
Three-time WNBA most valuable player Lauren Jackson?
Number two draft pick in the WNBA, Liz Cambage?
Rebel has never heard of any of them, presumably.
Rebel Sport’s Erica Berchtold said: “It’s about time we had a female ambassador associated with sport”.
I hope this was met with guffaws of laughter then sharp intakes of breath as whoever asked the question realised this was a serious answer.
Is this really what we as a society are reduced to?
To begin with, women have to work improbably hard to get equal reward on field compared to their male counterparts. Without the megabucks sponsorships and the devoted medical and coaching staff that most male sports enjoy, lots of female athletes also have to work part-time to support their own pursuits.
Throw in the good proportion of women who go back to sport after becoming a mother, and the juggling act between being a mum and an athlete is something most molly-coddled male athletes can’t even imagine.
It’s not just about this latest deal, either.
The Western Force, the Super Rugby team my fiancée supports, recently promoted a section on its website entitled “Women of the Force”. You’d be a mile away from the truth if you thought this was about women actually playing rugby though. No, it was about the wives of the Force players. To ask an obvious question … who cares?
And two weeks ago, the Australian women’s’ cricket team, the Southern Stars, won the World Cup for the sixth time. That’s two more than the men, let’s not forget. Where did their achievement rank in Fox Sports’ rundown that morning? Somewhere in the middle, after the usual AFL, NRL and other cricket news which gets churned out everyday no matter what happens. And I believe I can safely assume it didn’t lead the sports section on any of the major commercial networks either.
Why do we pretend that because a woman did it, it’s worth less air time?
I’m not ignorant enough to pretend that the AFL, NRL and cricket don’t generate billions of dollars and massive crowds, and therefore there’s more interest in covering those stories. But please, when a female athlete overcomes the incredibly difficult sporting environment into which she is born and does something great, can we give her the credit she deserves?