SCAN Sport goes pink: Are women’s sports being undervalued?

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This week our sport team are focusing on women in sport. October not only serves as introducing us into the cold winter but is also Breast Cancer Awareness month. So here at SCAN we are showcasing the crème de la crème of Lancaster’s women’s sport as we attempt to raise awareness to women within sport in conjunction with a great cause.

It is no secret the difference in publicity women receive in sport compared to men. Just look at the back page of any newspaper – the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation argue as little as 5% of all media coverage is given to sportswomen. This measly figure is equally represented by the 0.5% market share of sponsorship money women allegedly receive in sport. In an age of supposed equal rights for everyone, why is it that in 2013 the substantial difference in representation between men and women in sport is still glaringly apparent?

Within most areas money rules, and in sport this is no different. Where there is the demand, money will follow soon after. Look at darts and snooker as an example – previously plagued with being known as ‘pub sports’, once the TV coverage had arrived and money thrown their direction; player profiles were duly boosted, audiences soon began filling up seats and the sports began to flourish.

Admittedly post-Olympics there has been a slight resurgence in woman’s sporting coverage – to an extent. BT Sport has got behind the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) providing coverage of many tour events, the BBC have given the Women’s Super League their own highlights show and newspapers such as the Indy have publicised their own support to give women the coverage they need to develop.

While you may argue, there isn’t a big enough audience interested in watching women’s sport in order to justify more money to be spent on it. The more media coverage available to publicise women’s sport, the larger the potential audience will be. This would undoubtedly increase interest in female sport, making more people inclined to follow. By giving women’s sport a greater profile media-wise, new role models will emerge who will prove to inspire younger generations, changing attitudes while promoting active lifestyles to a younger audience too – benefits all-round.

A frequent opinion amongst the public would be that female sport just isn’t held in as high esteem compared to male sport. This is part of the problem, there shouldn’t be a comparison. Too often female sports are overlooked due to people un-intentionally comparing them to male sports. Repeatedly women’s skill or abilities are perhaps disregarded as they wouldn’t match up to what a male counterpart may be able to do. This teamed with a certain industry sexism whereby appearance, to some, takes precedent over ability means that women are already at a disadvantage of gaining the support they deserve. In this respect outdated values to women’s sport need to change in order for it to progress further.

It is clear that media, money and attitudes all have a substantial influence on how well certain sports prosper. It is unfortunate that while there is evidence of improvement within women’s sport, this sadly equates to not enough coverage or money to enable certain archaic attitudes to change.

While you may already know about the popular men’s football and rugby teams, we shall strive to provide a balance of coverage throughout the year publicising as many of Lancaster’s University teams as possible.

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