Since SportsNewsIreland first appeared we have endeavoured to cover stories involving all sports be the participants male or female, and not just GAA, Soccer or Rugby.
Yet recent surveys continue to show that there continues to be little coverage overall in the mainstream Irish media (North or South) for women’s sports.
Ireland is not alone as Britain’s pioneering “Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation” research confirmed on the eve of International Women’s Day that the success of women’s sports on the pitch isn’t being matched by progress off it in the United Kingdom either.
Across the Channel, according to WSFF – “Women’s sport has accounted for just 0.4% of the value of reported sponsorship deals in sport since September 2011’ and accounted for but ‘7% of total sports coverage in the media”. Yet 61% of those surveyed say they want more coverage, and not just at time of Olympics or other major events.
In Ireland, writing in the ‘Irish Examiner’ earlier this year, Derval O’Rourke had this to say on the subject of media coverage :
” It’s a popular club with a large membership but very little exposure — it’s the club of women’s sport. You could be forgiven for thinking not very many women actually take part in competitive sport. We don’t fill the sports pages of newspapers nor do we grace tv screens every weekend. The numbers may not be as high as men’s sport but participation is certainly not proportionate to the levels of exposure. In many ways, I’m hugely fortunate to be involved in a sport that offers equal pay and coverage for men and women. Track and field is a sport I’ve always found fair.
However, I believe being a successful sportswoman can be a more complicated affair than being a successful sportsman. One of the first aspects society appears to judge sportswomen on is not their ability or performance but their physical appearance and level of attractiveness.”
O’Rourke concluded her ‘Irish Examiner’ piece : “I would really like to get to a point where I can open a newspaper and it isn’t difficult to find a sports story focused on women. I’d like to see more women involved in sport analysis on tv, more women in high profile positions in sports administration and more female success in sport discussed. Not as tokenism but because women are good enough to be. It’s 2014 and there’s no need for secret clubs — it’s time to start doing more than scratching the surface and for sportswomen to really be seen”.
SportsNewsIreland will continue to provide coverage of all sports, be they male or female including so called ‘minority sports’ – we have provided extensive coverage of School and College athletics, Rugby,Soccer ,Ladies Gaelic and Camogie, Boxing and Basketball and welcome news of forthcoming events from P.R.O’s especially those deemed to be ‘minority sports’. Yet the sporting organisations themselves must also make much more of an effort – the IABA’s decision for ex ample to hold the IABA Women’s Elites on a Saturday night, with the men’s on the previous night was always going to prove disastrous from the point of view of attendance and media coverage.
Did the association REALLY EXPECT the majority of Friday’s attendance – especially those from outside the Greater Dublin area – like Kerry or Mayo or Donegal, to stay on and incur significant additional travel and accommodation costs in the capital city on the weekend of an Irish Rugby international? Far more sensible if the IABA showcases for 2015 a Women’s Elite Finals night that includes our leading Elite Seniors, Youth and Juniors and plans a media campaign well in advance that includes preferably TV coverage via TG4, Setanta or Aertv.ie with worldwide Live streaming also. If need be, also include a few top international stars on the programme eg: GB’s Nicola Adams, Natasha Jonas or Savannah Marshall in ‘ invitational exhibition bouts’ against other leading international boxers.
Today though SportsNewsIreland is also delighted to hear of a new initiative from the excellent ‘Sport for Business’ organisation. Here Managing Director Rob Hartnett explains what he believes is necessary to further promote ‘Women in Sport’ with a view to increasing both mainstream media coverage and encourage more sponsorship.
Rob Hartnett: “Today Sport for Business is launching a campaign to #SayYesIRL for greater awareness, support and respect for Women’s sport here in Ireland and around the world.
We will work alongside international organisations like the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation and help sports, prospective commercial partners, players and fans to make a statement that Women’s sport deserves better, and a meaningful difference to how that might be.
We are asking you to express your support by ‘signing’ the response below. Together we can make a better future for Women’s sport.
We can do that regardless of our own gender, whether we are runners, players, fighters or coaches
We can do it as teachers, as parents, as brothers, sisters, as people who care that 83% of 16-19 year old boys played sport last week, but only 66% of girls.
If the disparity of opportunity existed in any other field such as healthcare or education there would be a national outrage.
We want to make things better.
We will survey Ireland’s sporting bodies and institutions to discover what initiatives they are undertaking to promote greater involvement and coverage of women in sport.
We will bring together a group of individuals from sport, business and society to collectively consider what needs to be done to make a difference one step at a time.
We will build a list of the most influential Women in Irish sport today and work with them to build a bigger platform for the involvement of half of our population.
We will work with media outlets to encourage a greater commitment to coverage of Women’s sport. Six headlines out of 117 across our three main newspapers online services this morning related to Women’s sport “.
For more details see : http://sportforbusiness.com/
Let us not just blame the media however for all ills as women themselves must do more to attend more sporting events and the Government and it agencies such as the Irish Sports Council and Federation of Irish Sports must also do more, much much more especially via schools. Above all Ireland’s sporting bodies must become more professional and employ commercial directors who understand the needs of sponsors and that also means ensuring that women are actively represented on the Executive Councils of organisations like the IABA and others.
This is 2014 NOT 1984