Hosue of Payne blog: Time for equal sports coverage for men and women

First published in Sport by

It is five years since the All England Club introduced equal pay for men and women at the Wimbledon Championships.

The fact that pay levels are the same from the winners right down to the first round losers remains contentious with the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova this year putting down French player Gilles Simon’s assertion that all of the 128 players in the men’s locker room thought they were worth more.
 

Whatever the argument about the actual figures involved, I think few people would disagree that there is anything wrong with the principle of trying to treat women sports on as level a playing field as possible.
 

Certainly, at the Olympics, our women were not outshone by the men, claiming 10 golds, five silvers and five bronzes, which, as the Daily Mail loved to tell us, would have put them seventh in the medal table if they had competed on their own.
 

Yet, according to Labour MP Barbara Keeley, just two per cent of articles and one per cent of images in the sports pages of national newspapers are devoted to female athletes and women’s sport.

I am sure tennis players such as the aforementioned Sharapova account for a high proportion of that but, if the findings are accurate, it is a shocking figure for which there is absolutely no
excuse.
 

TV is no better, with around five per cent of the sport broadcast on Sky devoted to women’s sport and the poor coverage has prompted new Culture Secretary Maria Miller to write to all national broadcasters telling them to reassess their coverage of women’s sport.
 

As Keeley pointed out: “If that level of coverage had applied during the Olympics we would possibly have seen some of Jessica Ennis’s gold in the heptathlon but what would we have missed?”
 

The media has taken a bashing on this issue, and rightly so, but it isn’t the full story.
 

While I would not claim the split in these pages is a Wimbledonesque share, there is a bit of moral high ground here because any regular readers of the Surrey Comet will have read about Jo Rowsell and Sophie Hosking, our own gold medallists, over the past four years – not just during London 2012.
 

Full equality on this issue is a long way off, but it is high time some other parts of the sporting media treated half the population with the respect, care and attention they deserve.

 

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