Gender inequality in sport coverage

by Totallyarb on August 17, 2011

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.

A couch as lazy as you

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.

Forget the golf...

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.

I'm coming for you


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.

About the author:

Graphic Designer by day, couch potato by night. Ultimate ambition to be a hammock tester on a Macadamia farm in Hawaii or water girl for the Springboks.

Totallyarb has written 5 posts on Wicket Maiden. Want more? Visit Totallyarb's own site or follow Totallyarb on Twitter.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

clydesta August 17, 2011 at 10:08 am

I love watching women’s tennis. And it’s not just for the short skirts! *hides*


mspr1nt August 17, 2011 at 11:25 am

Yeah, right ;p


Totallyarb August 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Yeah, I kinda thought it was all about tits and ass! Let’s see what you think of the female weight lifters in next years olympics ;)


Ticha August 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Don’t forget that other popular women’s sport that gets a lot of airtime on Supersport – women’s beach volleyball!

I think the Americans are way ahead in terms of trying to correct the stereotype. College sports have a good weighting between male and female sports. However, at a professional level the likes of the WNBA still struggle against the NBA for a decent market share…


Totallyarb August 17, 2011 at 12:58 pm

That’s the thing, I can’t really put my finger on why we’re not watching women’s sports and more importantly, why our illustrious politicians are chasing for equality in every corner of the globe, but have neglected it here.


Wendy Young August 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Thanks for this article, I found it interesting and for once someone wasn’t writing about how inferior women are! I think women’s sports are an untapped market and whomever figures that out and is brave enough to put it out there will reap the benefits.

I mean look at the most recent Women’s Soccer World Cup, a SOLD OUT stadium for a non-host final. That doesn’t even happen in men’s sports sometimes!



Totallyarb August 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Thanks Wendy. Yes, I too found most articles about women’s sport written with a patronising tone or just outright sexist. Then you get the opposite end with articles verging on defensive hysteria. I don’t see womens sport being less than mens or even that different, which is why I’m confused as to why we don’t watch it and why companies aren’t investing in it. As you say, somebody could make a mint with this untapped resource (no “untapped” puns from the guys please).


Amy August 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm

A mate in college made the argument that women will only ever be great FEMALE athletes, not plain great athletes, because they’ll never be better than men. I argued that the definition of “athlete” is not male, and it’s presumptuous thinking that female athletes are all running around trying to be better than men. But I think a lot of people do think “male” when they think athlete. Maybe that’s part of it. And all the references in media to a female athlete’s looks, femininity, fashion sense … seem to imply that people only want to watch female athletes who are pretty, maybe even sexy, and not too masculine. I don’t know what the answer is, either. I appreciate your post, though! And in the U.S., I’ll take ANY rugby on TV — male or female!


Totallyarb August 17, 2011 at 4:46 pm

That’s a great point Amy. We always seem to equate athleticism with masculinity which is probably why the first team girls field hockey players at my high school were all thought to be raging lesbians!


Yayiro Musisi Kasasa August 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I do support womens rugby/Handball/Hockey and Netball because without them we can not exist. Men need to push for the Womens growth in sports.


Totallyarb August 25, 2011 at 8:20 am

Thanks for your comment Yayiro. It’s a shame that us women don’t seem to want to push for growth in womens sport ourselves, but one of the first things we need to do is win the men over! That’s also the biggest challenge.


Garreth Ewing September 6, 2011 at 12:26 am

Did you know that SA Women’s hockey captain, Marsh Marescia, is the most capped South African sportsperson of all time. Any sport, any gender. 250 games and counting.

Also, Pietie Coetzee is the top scorer in women’s international hockey, recently breaking the record that has stood for more than 20 years. She is approaching 230 test match goals.

Both these players are globally recognised as among the best in the game, and have performed at the highest level for years.

I’m sure there are many other women’s sports that have similar achievers deserving of recognition.

There should be a quota of women’s sport coverage on TV, then they wouldn’t have to fill up the hours and hours with reruns, school rugby matches and WWE. It might be a loss maker for a few months, but sponsors and advertisers will soon catch on when they know they will be getting guaranteed exposure for their investment.

Perhaps this inflow of cash will help raise the standards of women’s sport in general, making it more enticing as a spectacle and more worthwhile for fans, sponsors and players.

It’s not going to happen though…


Totallyarb September 6, 2011 at 11:42 am

That’s a very good idea Garreth. Thanks for your comment. Sadly as it hasn’t happened yet, I think perhaps the sponsors aren’t willing to risk it or don’t see how they could be pioneers in leading the charge to bring awareness of womens sport, thus creating awareness of their own brand. There are so many great sports women out there as indicated by your comment, but they will never know the level of support the men in their sport get, despite the history they’re making. They will also be woefully underpaid and their sports will not be made professional, as most mens sports are.

My biggest concern with it all is that despite our politicians being up in arms at the racial quotas not being up to snuff in the mens game, they’ve completely ignored the inequality and outright bias when it comes to womens sport. Hopefully, as the sexes become more enlightened about each other, we will achieve a semblance of balance between male and female in all aspects of our lives. Not in our lifetime though.


veleala. mautu September 22, 2011 at 1:36 am

i rather say, women are recieving less opportunity to participate in every sports. Sports is like the mens real world leaving the female behind. the more opportunity given to the male side the less they know their families and their wives. why do not we give the same chance given to the male to the female? are women weak or what? we must give the eequal chances to both side so that everyone achieve thier goals and enjoy their lives.


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