• Pub trivia, board games and game shows all suggest that women do not contribute to sport (Flickr)Source: Flickr
When was the last general knowledge question you answered about women in sport? Sophie Verass can't remember either...
By
Sophie Verass

18 Jul 2016 - 12:42 PM  UPDATED 19 Jul 2016 - 11:33 AM

A small group of friends and I go to pub trivia every Tuesday. We all meet after work, take advantage of the happy hour specials, order a $10 schnitzel and let down our corporate hair to sit amongst tables made-up of other middle class city folk with a similar 'clever' oxymoron team name.

It’s a pretty generalised trivia; made up of ‘who am Is’, geography, history and many questions about recent news, current affairs and circulating headlines.

The best thing about this mid-week activity is that is gives a diverse group of people the ability to weigh in on their particular strengths. My friend Ian for example, impressively covers just about everything from ancient history to the names of Stock Market Indexes. Myself on the other hand, takes pride in knowing every line ever written by Carrie Bradshaw, pop groups of the 1990s and of course, women in sport.

Since working at SBS Zela, I have fallen down the rabbit hole of athlete profiles, sports scandals and the latest news on Rio 2016. I'm overwhelmed by the constant sports updates and emerging players. It’s my job to keep a breast of what’s happening in this global industry, yet no matter how often sports questions arise during the quiz, I’m as much use as Michelle Payne would be on the Opals team.

It’s my job to keep a breast of what’s happening in this global industry, yet no matter how often sports questions arise during the quiz, I’m as much use as Michelle Payne would be on the Opals team.

With at least one, if not more, sports question in each of three rounds, I’m yet to hear anything regarding women’s sports. Instead, I've answered more questions about Sex and the City in the past five months than I have about who the Rio Olympic flag bearer is, who Serena Williams beat at Wimbledon this year, which star Hockeyroo missed out on the Olympic team, who the Matildas goalkeeper is, what the name of the Victorian premier league women’s netball team is, who the oldest athlete on the Paralympic team is or any other question about mainstream sports that has made national and international news, that didn’t involve a male athlete, coach or manager. 

I’m not begrudging like I want questions called in my favour and that my team is somehow at a disadvantage. It’s simply an observation made by someone in the field, who can highlight this bizarre consistent omission.

Pub trivia often has plenty of questions about sport, but in my experience, they’re delivered as though women don’t exist in this genre. 

Pub trivia often has plenty of questions about sport, but in my experience, it's as though women don’t exist in this genre, which is is clearly not the case. In fact, female athletes made up almost 50 per cent of the last Summer Olympic Team and there were more women than men on the most recent Australian Winter Olympic team - stats that I suspect will be similar this year. Women fully participate in sport, but despite this, last weeks' sport related questions were all to do with male sportspeople; Mark Cavendish, Novak Djokovic, Lionel Messi, Rodger Federer, the NRL Parramatta Eels and the most recent AFL 'porn scandal'.

While I doubt that the quizmaster is actively sexist nor makes a conscious effort to ignore the fact that sport is largely played by women, this is simply another example of another space where women’s achievement is being made invisible.

...institutions like pub trivia - which initiates discussion, public interest and provides people with general knowledge - further fails to promote women’s triumph and success.

Television broadcasts and news segments fail to represent women in sport adequately and subsequently send the message that women play a minor role in this landscape. Looking more broadly, institutions like pub trivia - as 'trivial' as they may be - actually initiates discussion, public interest and provides people with general knowledge. The fact that this cultural activity further fails to promote women’s triumph and success, how and where are women in sport supposed to get recognition in the wider community?

The more I thought about this I began searching through my favourite board games and game apps - as a child of four, I'm well versed on 'organised family fun' like Trivial Pursuit, Articulate and charades. These games also seemed to ignore women’s contribution to sports. Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Donald Bradman, Pelé, Babe Ruth and Niki Lauda were reoccurring answers, cementing these male athlete’s success and their deserving popularity. But simultaneously occupied most of the sports questions, dominating over the deserving popularity of women like Larisa Latynina, Ann Meyers, Cathy Freeman or even Tonya Harding, who have undeniably had their fair share of headlines and international moments as well.

Considering that these activities start conversations and distribute information, trivia quizmasters, board game makers and even game show producers clearly need to make more of an effort to change this false perception that women play a small role in sport. As a employed professional with an inbox full of news and information on the subject, trust me, they don't.

So until then, I suppose I’ll keep re-watching my Sex and the City boxset - who knows, the question about Miranda playing baseball for her law firm's team building exercise might come up.   

 


 

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