The Springbok Women’s rugby team were beaten by Canada 52-17 on the 3rd of August. I say again, Canada. In the words of Weird Al Yankovic “maple syrup and snow’s what they export, they treat Curling just like it’s a real sport”. Why was there no outcry about their shameful performance across the social media platforms? Why were they not lambasted in the press as their male counterparts have been? We can’t blame the Springbok ladies for their poor performance without laying an equal amount of blame at our own doorstep. How can they be expected to perform without any support? We don’t give a damn about women’s sport and I want to know why.
According to several articles I read on Google, typically written from a male point of view, we as sport-watching citizens want quality and not quantity. I fail to see the logic in that argument after having sat through the elongated Super 15 rugby season, only to have it followed by a completely unnecessary Tri-Nations tournament which will lead us straight into the Rugby World Cup and then down hill into Christmas. My ass cheeks will have to be surgically removed from my couch thanks to the quantity of rugby played this season and I feel it fair to say, it was not all quality my friends, not by a long shot.
Men are stronger, faster and more aggressive which in theory makes sport more exciting for spectators. Yes, men are stronger, but this only becomes evident when pitting a man against a woman in say, a jello-wrestling tournament. Chances are the chick is going to find herself face down in the lime green stuff at every opportunity, leaving her bum in the air and the dude with a nifty spot to park his bike. Yes, thanks to the as yet unmentioned 30% more muscle mass, men are also faster, but yet again this only becomes evident when facing off man versus woman, which has not come about in sport since the 1987 World Tiddlywinks Championships. And since when did sport have to be fast for people to watch it? Watching Tiger Woods line up his pecker…I mean putter, is like watching grass grow.
Yes, men are more aggressive thanks to a bucketful of testosterone which leads to things like cage fighting and Jackass movies. But anyone that has watched New Zealand play England in a netball match will know that aggression is not missing in a women’s game. It may be more subtle thanks to the Netball Association frowning on spear tackles, but there are plenty of sharpened elbows out there. Do we really need eye gouging and hacking a loogey (spitting up gob) to keep us interested in a game? If Supersport would ever bother to televise a game played by the Springbok Women’s Rugby Team, I’m sure we’d see nothing but heart and plenty of aggression. Don’t tell me that anyone, male or female, when playing for their country is not going to give it everything they’ve got.
Is it lack of investment in the women’s game that has led to sub standard training and equipment, leaving the women lagging far behind their male counterparts? Or is the media responsible? They seem to be responsible for everything else, from the “alleged” moon landing to poor Julius being harassed in his mansion. Is it the lack of reporting and broadcasting of women’s sport by predominantly male top heavy media corporations that has lead to this massive gender inequality that nobody, not even women themselves, seem overly bothered about? In a country that is constantly striving to gain transformation and make things grey across the colour board instead of just black and white, are we fighting such a battle for equality between the races that we’ve forgotten about equality between the sexes? That’s too big a question for me to answer and I don’t think it’s the media’s responsibility to provide a quota-like coverage of women’s sports.
So, why don’t we watch women’s sport? For me, it’s a simple case of brainwashing from birth. I’ve only ever seen men’s sport on TV, with the occasional bit of woman’s tennis – the only female sport apparently deemed worthy of broadcasting by the mainstream sports channels. Occasionally, one of the more obscure sports channels is patronisingly devoted to showing the FIFA Women’s World Cup, almost as an after thought, but we can’t blame the media. If we do, we must lay equal blame on ourselves because we have not shown an interest in women’s sport. We have not demanded it. I still don’t know the answer. All I know is, when any South African – be it an individual or a team – is representing me and my country in an international arena, I want to know about it and I want to give them my undivided, completely blind faith support, regardless of their colour or sex, the same as I would if they were going off to war, which – in essence – they are.