In a report published by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) in 2014 it found that out of all the sport televised in Australia only 7% of it is female sports. This is even a backwards step from a decade ago, when ASC reported that women’s sport in Australia made up just 11%. To put this in to perspective a bit, horseracing last year received more television air time than women’s sport.
It can’t be said that there wouldn’t be enough interest in women’s sport and it wouldn’t be viable or profitable enough in the long run for the commercial stations to run more. In Australia we love to watch our sport and get behind any professional sports team or individual whether its men’s or women. We also love to jump on the band wagon when one of our nations teams are doing well, and over the past decade our women’s cricket, soccer, and basketball teams have been doing a heck of a lot better than our blokes teams, yet hardly anyone knows because our TV stations fail to broadcast them.
I personally think that some of the greatest Australian sporting moments were made by women, such as Cathy Freeman’s 400m Gold at Sydney 2000, Anna Meares’s comeback from a broken neck in 2008 to win the Gold at the London Olympics, the Hockeyroos Gold medal at Sydney 2000, and Torah Bright’s Gold medal in the half pipe at the Winter Olympics.
Television is meant to shape and reflect the attitudes of our society. The way in which Australian television fails to cover women’s sport affects the way in which female athletes are perceived and sadly also tells us something about the status of women in our society.
The ASC report did recommend that simply securing mainstream coverage isn’t the solution. It says that for women sport to be commercially viable, it would need to create a larger mass of dedicated and passionate women’s sports fans.
Canberra Capitals coach Carrie Graf said “it takes courageous executives in the media to get behind women’s sport and promote the fact that it’s about equal opportunity”. Graf also labelled the lack of coverage of Australian women’s sport as a “Tragedy”.
For sports lovers like me unfortunately this problem is going to take quite a while to fix, however there haven’t been any examples to prove that women’s sport can’t be as commercially viable and as popular as men’s sport.
All of our Aussie sports stars regardless of their gender should be recognised for their talents and abilities.