Monday, December 12, 2005

Should they re-name these things?

The Sports Personality of the Year Awards. Should we call them the Male Sports Personality of the Year Awards? All of the awards this year have gone to men. The mens cricket team and Andrew Flintoff, Shane Warne. Have we forgotten that England's women also won the ashes this year? The best coach, of course, is a male football coach, Jose Mourinho. The lifetime award has gone to a male football star, Pele. There are some great female footballers in this country who deserve recognition too, especially since they have to do it with a fraction of the funding and a fraction of the support.

Lord Coe, Geoff Thomas, don't get me wrong, they've all achieved great things. None the less if I was Ellen McArthur I'd be really annoyed.


Cruella said...

Thanks ursa, nice to hear from you.

Firstly cat - only one of the awards is given on the basis of a public vote. The others are decided by committee. I hardly think the general public is out voting for Lord Coe! Secondly who the public votes for is inevitably a reflection of who has been given the most media coverage. The women's cricket team had basically no coverage. Now of course they show what there is demand for, but they also advertise and generate demand for the sports they want to show. So in the long run they do dictate what the public follows and votes for.

andy, yeah I think in the interests of fairness we should provide the same prize money and the same media coverage for womens sport as for mens. If we are going to focus on mens sport because it is "a higher standard", then fine, but we then need to allow women who can attain that standard to enter the mens competition. We don't have that.

And of course there are many sports where the womens standard is higher than the mens. Ellen McArthur is a case in point, she's the first person to achieve what she's achieved, not the first woman. Display gymnastics, ice dancing, syncronised swimming and some endurance distances for example.

From the viewers point of view if you've ever watched women's premiership football you'll see it's played in a much more skillful and less brutish way than the mens and is a much greater pleasure to watch. No-one looses out under my plan...

Blognor Regis said...

No-one looses [sic] out under my plan...

Only Kelly Holmes, Paula Radcliffe, Liz McColgan, Fatima Whitbread, Jane Torville, Virginia Wade, Mary Peters, Princess Anne, Ann Jones, Mary Rand and Anita Lonsbrough. They lose.

Cruella said...

Woah there dudes! You seem to be offering a two-option plan:

1) Either women accept the pathetic amount of funding and coverage that women's sports currently get.

2) Or we give it up in return for the chance to participate in mens' sports.

The Cru-blogs proposals are rather different:

1) Either we give the same level of funding and coverage to womens sports as we do to mens sports. And the same number and value of prizes too.

2) Or we accept that womens sports are a minority interest area, give them a lower level of funding and coverage (like we do at the moment) but then accept the differential and allow those women who are able to to participate in the more prestigious "mens" sports.

BigRedOne said...

>andy, yeah I think in the interests of fairness we should provide the same prize money and the same media coverage for womens sport as for mens. If we are going to focus on mens sport because it is "a higher standard", then fine, but we then need to allow women who can attain that standard to enter the mens competition. We don't have that.<

Who is the 'we' you are referring to here? I think you will find that most of the money comes from sponsorship, not fans (one football chairman famously referred to his clubs attending fans as scenery) so it is here where things should change if you would wish to enforce this proposal. But does media coverage follow sponsoship or the other way around? There's no guarantee that equal time on the tv will equal the same viewing numbers and ergo the same amount of prize money in sponsorship. I don't think you're on to a winner here. Nice blog though.

Cruella said...

They actually have this law in the Us and it works great, sponsors who wish to offer prize money and sponsorship must offer the same amount to the women's sport as the mens. and guess what, their womens sports have benefitted hugely. Lets bring the same law in here. Would be fantastic for women in sport.

BigRedOne said...

Any chance you could provide a link to that law, as I can't find it (or at least a decent overview)? I ask because I can't imagine FedEx, say, sponsoring American Football to the tune of million$ per year and then having to provide a womens equivalent with the same amount of cash.

BigRedOne said...

Andy - thanks, that clears things up a lot from my perspective!

I can't really make my mind up re. this issue though. There aren't many womens team sports that attract large followings (I think I am right in saying that the womens soccer league in the States went bust, and that no-one gives two hoots about the WNBA), and whilst I can see the point of colleagiate athletes being taken care of, there are also obvious problems with women who might be good enough to take on the men.

I would use as an example Michelle Wie - telegenic and already wealthy beyond our wildest dreams, but as yet has still won nothing of note. There are various articles about her fellow golfers being rather sour about all the fuss, considering that they actually win things - Anika Sorenstam for example.

Cruella said...

The trouble seems to be that the "choice" being offered female athletes is either a pathetically small amount of funding coupled with being restricted to women-only sports or no funding at all and the right to enter men's sports. What women's sports need is a much higher level of funding AND for the top performers to be entitled to enter the men's competitions if they wish.

I would highlight to you the case of "Marigoal", a woman offered a professional footballing position with a men's team in Mexico. FIFA were quick to leap in and ban her from playing. It's no small issue in Mexico where a contract like that is the difference between poverty and riches. How horrific for her to have strived and strived to reach the level of the professional men, and then not be allowed to take the job. Women's football in Mexico is entirely unpaid.

Cruella said...

Nope, Marigoal was signed to play. Certain Italian teams have tried to sign women and not succeeded in doing so, then later claims have been made that it was a publicity stunt, though there is no official line on it.

To say it would harm the women's sport is ridiculous. Given the inordinately higher profile of men's football, having a woman player in the public eye would be fantastic for the women's sport, millions of young women would see her playing and be inspired to take the sport up.

Cruella said...

If women are benefitting massively from this "protectionism" than why are we winning no awards, etc?

I think if people saw the top women competing with the men they'd realise what a high standard the womne's game is played at and be more likely to watch it.

The only reason women are kept out of men's sports is sexism.

Cruella said...

I was talking about the sports personality of the year awards, the original message of my whole article.

I think a large part of the reason that men's sports have better recognition is that they receive much more publicity. I think the imbalance needs to be addressed.

If we want men and women to be inspired to take up sport (and if we don't why are we funding sport at all in this country) then we need to make it clear that both groups have a genuine possibility of making a career in sport. Right now there are loads more men than women in sport.