Debate: Women’s Sport, Who Cares?

“Let’s face it, women’s sport, on the whole, is second-tier” vs. “People watch sport for the magic of it, for the entertainment, not just for the physicality”.

Comedy Sex sexist sexy Sport the tab women women's sport

It is often said that women’s sport is not worthwhile, not worth the coverage, or the hassle of putting it on. But is this chauvinistic rubbish or is it that no one really cares about women’s sport? We asked two of the sports team to investigate.

Why do women have their own snooker tournaments?

Pete Lansing argues that women’s sport is just not as good as men’s, and that no one pays it any attention.

Sport is competitive, end of. The plaudits and the spoils go to the competitors who produce their best performance and fend off all challengers. This is what makes sport so appealing to watch and why it is so idolised by children and adults alike. So, it must be asked, where, in this cut-throat arena, do men’s and women’s sport respectively stand in the eyes of fans?Looking at records and results over the years, men dominate sport almost in its entirety (because they’re BETTER at it). Therefore, when the vast majority of the fanbase pays to see that ultimate performance, will they pay or care about an event that won’t produce that spectacle?

In tennis this issue frequently resurfaces in the form of equal prize money. Many (female) supporters of female tennis advocate this, calling it equality, yet most men find utterly ludicrous. This is because of  the lesser amount of time spent on court and the arguably lower quality witnessed. Take, for instance, this year’s US open finals. One lasted exactly 60 minutes, with one player suffering a complete mental breakdown halfway through, whilst the other lasted approaching 4 hours, with the crowd witnessing one of the finest players ever demonstrate his best tennis against a plucky opponent, who despite ever-approaching defeat, fought for every point. It is easy to guess which was the men’s final. However, both winners and both runners-up received the same amounts of prize money. I mean, on that basis, should League 2 footballers be paid the same as Lionel Messi or Ryan Giggs, for equality’s sake?


Federer and Nadal providing value for money in the 2008 Wimbledon Final

Perhaps the best example of why no one should care about women’s sport is that of Reanne Evans, the women’s snooker player. For some reason men and women have different snooker tournaments; ‘why?’, you might ask. Well the reality is that women somehow are just rubbish at snooker compared to men. This is where dear Reanne comes in, she was going to be the exception: she has won the women’s series 6 times in a row, she is unbeaten in 61 matches- surely she can show the world that women can be good at snooker too?

Unfortunately not. Poor Reanne got thoroughly beaten in her first game in the men’s tournament. Oh dear.

Now, I sense feminists are picking up torches and pitchforks, claiming that I am chauvinistically writing off all women’s sport as pointless. This is not so. Women’s sport can sometimes be as enthralling as men’s, and some of the feats are just as worthy of awe-Dame Kelly Holmes’ performances at the Athens Olympics to take but one example from many. But let’s be honest, Women’s sport is not consistently as impressive or anywhere near as high a standard.

There are arguments that the sports industry is inherently sexist, but this has not been the case for at least 20 years; enough time for a couple of generations of well-trained and supported females athletes to emerge. Similarly, some will argue that if women’s sport were to be televised and advertised more, there would be a greater number of fans, but this ignores the root of the problem in that women’s sport is not advertised and televised as much simply because fewer sports fans want to see it, and because those in the sports media industry know that. If these two groups of people do not appear to care much about women’s sport then do the maths, this doesn’t leave many people left …

Let’s face it: women’s sport, on the whole, is second-tier. Evolution has dictated that men be the physically stronger and more developed half of the species, and this fact is consistently demonstrated in the modern day arena of sports. Men’s sport draws in more fans, despite higher ticket costs (which organisers know fans will pay because of the higher quality on offer) and  dominates the sports media. The reason for this: no one cares about women’s sport.

Mungo James tells us the real reason why we should care about women’s sport.

I know what my opponent will say: no one cares about women’s sport because it is rubbish, because it is not as high a standard as men’s sport and because there is not as much money in it… or something like that.

However, the simple answer to ‘who cares?’ is, well, lots of people: women, for a start, and lots of men. I am a man and I like watching women’s sport. Just think about it, cast your mind back to some of the greatest sporting moments in our lifetimes. Sure, Steve Redgrave is there, as is David Beckham’s goal against Greece and Johnny Wilkinson in 2003. However, what about Cathy Freeman at the Sydney Olympics, or Kelly Holmes in 2004, Paula Radcliffe getting the marathon world record or Ellen MacArthur beating some slimy Frenchman in 2005, even if she did cry all the way round.

Women have provided us with some of the greatest ever sporting moments, and added to this is the fact that in Britain our women are often more successful than our men. Do you know for example that last year the England women’s cricket team totally cleaned up in their Ashes, the 20Twenty series and the World Cup? Or that the Women’s Rugby team were in the World Cup final earlier in the year, indeed they have been for the last three World Cups and even won it well before the men did, way back in 1994. Also, guess who is the captain of the GB athletics team? That’s right, Jessica Ennis, the poster girl at the minute for GB sport and the only out and out athletics world leader Britain has right now, in both the men’s and the women’s side.

Furthermore, we should care because women’s sports stars are professionals who work incredibly hard at their sports, and we should care because it is not just the men that show the beauty of sport, and why we all love it. Women too show the drive, the agony, the drama, passion, pride, sadness and joy that makes sport so enthralling. Sure women’s sport is not always as fast or as powerful as the men’s, but does it have to be? People watch sport for the magic of it, for the entertainment, not just for the physicality, hence the reason why someone goes to watch Plymouth Argyle on a cold wet day rather than staying at home to watch Man U or Chelsea.

To be honest, we should also care about women’s sport because, well, just look at some of the women who play it. As a red blooded man, I care about women’s sport  because it has produced the likes of Anna  Kornikova and Ana Ivanovich (do Google them, you won’t be disappointed), as well as the Olympic delight of beach volleyball. If no one cared about women’s sport, these wonderful people and their wonderful, if at times revealing, outfits would not exist, and I have to confess, I would have to find other things to put on my bedroom wall…

The joys of women’s sport…?

In short, lots of people care about women’s sport because women too are capable of demonstrating that magic and excitement which brings us back time after time, not just men. In addition, a lot of women’s sports stars are fit, and we should thank the fact that women play sport for this reason if nothing else.