Players and administrators in women’s sport regularly complain that they are underfunded when compared to their male counterparts. Their argument is that the poor media coverage of their sport leads to fewer sponsorship and other commercial sources of income being available to them.
Recent events at my local rugby club would seem to suggest that the women have a point. Last weekend saw the inaugural fixtures in the Tyrrell’s Premier 15s, a new competition for England’s top ten women’s rugby union clubs. One of the teams competing in the Premier 15s is my local club Firwood Waterloo, not that you would know it from the local media coverage.
Despite being the only Premier 15s team in the North West, the club has been ignored by the local press. Neither of the two local weekly papers, The Champion and The Visiter have even mentioned Waterloo Ladies, although they continue to carry match reports on the men’s team which plays in the 6th tier of English rugby.
Mind you, it’s not just the media who seem to be a bit misogynist here. Even Waterloo RFC’s own official club website has no mention of the ladies on the home page or on the news page. Maybe the men, and they are all men, who run Waterloo RFC are a bit embarrassed over the fact that their female team is doing better than the hapless male 1st XV.
It’s not just a local issue. Nationally there is no live TV coverage scheduled for the new Premier 15s tournament, although I understand that the RFU is planning to live stream some matches on their website. There has been some national media coverage in some of the broadsheet press, but I suspect that most sports fans are blissfully unaware of the new league’s existence.
I can’t help feeling that the mainstream media would pay more attention to women’s rugby, and other female sports, if some of the players looked like Maria Sharapova. Or am I just being cynical?