Sunday, 6 August 2006

Why more coverage of your sport would suit you, madam: Felled by flawed attitude

Sue Day

As the vice-captain of the England women's rugby team, the reigning Six Nations champions, I read 'A Man's World' with interest and agreed with a lot of the sentiments. Undoubtedly the women's sporting world needs to do more to sell itself, raise its profile and to demonstrate to the kids out there that it is a fulfilling and inspirational place to be.

I would take issue with certain suggestions made, however, not least from your own sports editor, Brian Oliver, who said: 'It's too simplistic to blame the media, who do not coach, develop and fund champions.' I agree that it is too simplistic - there are many other factors, including funding, opportunity, perception and quality of coaching. But if the system in place to bring through the female stars of the future is flawed, then the media's attitude to it is equally so.

The women's sports that get the most coverage seem to be those inextricably linked to the men's events - tennis, athletics, horse racing. Look at the coverage of my own sport. The England women's team fly out to the World Cup at the end of the month as second favourites. Each individual in the squad trains as a 'professional'. We have skill, determination and entertainment value to rival the men, and if you are reporting sport simply on its merits, then surely we would have seen news of our achievements.

I am realistic enough to understand that it will probably take decades (at least) to begin to compete with the history that goes with hundreds of years of male-dominated sport. However, it would be nice to see the British media do their bit towards ensuring that women's sport actually is reported on its merits.

Sue Day, England rugby player

The Observer (London, England) (August 6, 2006): p18.

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