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Attila the Pun
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
Women's sport isn't as good as mens..

Louisa Deasay appears to be labouring under the assumption that the sports media creates the public's interest in sport, rather than reflects it:

Open the sports section of any paper on any given day and you'll struggle to find a mention of a female sportswoman. Similarly, turn on the TV at a weekend and you'll be besieged by soccer, footy, motocross or men's basketball. Why is it that in 2005 women can vote, become self-made trillionaires, join the army, become the US secretary of state, (supposedly) become prime minister, but can't play in the AFL?

Maybe because top level sport requires speed and strength that women, unfortunately, can't biologically achieve? Why can I (supposedly) become PM, but not play in the AFL? Probably because I am slow and unfit?

Women need to be taught, just as men are, that their bodies are magnificent, powerful and capable of amazing physical achievements and not just skinny, weak-looking trophies made to grace the arm of a footballer on Brownlow night.

Couldn't agree more. I would fully encourage more participation of women in sport, but you can't force people to enjoy watching women's sport by mandating that the media give a certain amount of coverage to it.

The recent revelation that 80 per cent of the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami were women was partly attributed to the fact that women had a harder time climbing trees and running as fast as men. Even in Australia, who can be sure women wouldn't be as wiped out by a similar natural disaster, if we keep on shoving women's physical achievements under the rug and making it harder for them to be the best (sports) people they can be?

This has got to be one of the most laughable attempts to use a current tragedy to push an agenda that I have ever seen. She is suggesting that we are placing Australian women at risk of dying in a natural disaster because their failure to play enough sport will render them unable to run away quick enough or climb a tree high enough.

It doesn't matter if Little Athletics will take eight-year-old Jenny for baseball, for example. If all the media soaked up in Jenny's house reflect nothing but male baseball, Jenny is going to need five times more determination to continue playing if there's clearly no future in it. But if eight-year-old John enjoys baseball, he'll follow it through much more easily, not even knowing that he could have had a female rival; she dropped out years ago because she'd never seen a girl baseball player on TV and didn't want to be weird.

Johnny would also know that he would eventually have no female rivals by the time he finished puberty, because he would be a foot taller and 20 kilos bigger than them. And why would Jenny stop purely because there is "clearly no future in it"? Is Deasay suggesting that girls only play sport if they think they can go pro? What about the love of the game?

And when television, newspapers and radio start paying a bit more attention to women who are reaching the top of their games - or are even at the middle, as they do with men - then perhaps the wage gap, the sponsorship gap, and all the associated health gaps will begin to shrink.

Unfortunately I am worried that Deasay actually believes this - that if the media would just pay more attention to womens sport, then the public (and sponsers - back to the money issue again!) would, rather than acknowledging that the media and the money follow the crowds interest. The media has some part to play certainly, but all the media attention in the world won't knock a second off your sprint time, or add 200 meters to your drive.

Studies suggest that due to biological differences, women are better at some tasks than men. Similarly, biological differences mean that men at the elite level are better at sport than women.

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