Gender inequality in ‘Sport’ – just how bad is it in 2017?

THIS IS A FOLLOW-UP SEQUEL POST TO THAT TITLED Gender inequality in ‘Life’ – just how bad is it in 2017? WHICH WAS PUBLISHED HERE ‘YESTERDAY’.

If you have read the earlier post, you will appreciate the general background to gender inequality and where matters have reached in modern society, and this post simply takes that forward with a view on how Sport is affected.

It is unsurprisingly then, that such general inequality mechanisms have been carried over to sport as well, and they certainly have been, haven’t they? Yep and in particular a distinct void has been created in competitive sport between male sportsmen and female sportswomen, hasn’t it?

Well, in the past men have always played more sport than women [who were much too tied up in lives of drudgery (created by men?)], particularly when the men were young & fit, and not least as a competitive recreation (and a welcome release especially from sedentary work?) and that balance legacy continues to some, though lesser, extent in England today – where some forty percent of males participate in regular sport compared with our females still being eight-and-a-half percent behind (albeit that the number of women doing sport now is at an all-time high).

British universities & colleges are also concerned about the number of women not doing sport or being weekly involved in some form of personal physical activity, as there are ten percent less of them involved than the males. Albeit that the female students do more sport than the rest of the general population, nevertheless they are the ones most likely to take part in individual ‘non-sporting’ activities such as gym, running and fitness classes (e.g. Zumba) than sport itself, and those activities are not being undertaken within the university, are they? Furthermore, it is the non-campus based female students (so living within the community), that are least active generally, and this is where one of the largest differences between male and female students is seen, while those ‘on-campus’ females are the ones most engaged in traditional sport and are engaged in other activity via university provision. The indication would seem to be that women need to be outside of the general public arena’s bad influence (and inside an encouraging bubble) to get the message that sport & physical activity is invaluable to their good health & wellbeing, don’t you think?

You see there are physical and emotional barriers and missing motivation triggers affecting women more than men, which includes the fear of judgement – with common concerns of self-consciousness about fitness, weight or sporting ability. That though is being steadily overcome through successfully projects to recruited women through events where women can meet coaches and see activity sessions with personal follow-up from coaches afterwards, plus encouragement of participants to ‘bring and introduce a friend’, together with media promotion across communities in addition to using organisations’ links to reach women from a range of backgrounds, and also providing easy-to-access information about what sessions entail, and while reassuring women that most others will also be beginners, besides that they don’t have to already be in shape to enjoy sport.

There can be no doubt that the examples of gender inequality in professional & semi-professional sport that is thrown in women’s faces on a daily basis, has a major negative influence in their perception of women’s roles & involvement within the sporting fraternity, as it simply reinforces the male promoted assertions of old that women are the inferior gender together with “women are no bloody good at sport” thrown-in as well, eh?

Now in general, that said, one wouldn’t expect men and woman to compete AGAINST each other in many sports, because of the insurmountable physical differences between the sexes, (with men generally being taller, heavier, stronger, and quicker than women), whence physical size and strength play a major part in most sports — and so it turns out in practice, doesn’t it? Yes, so competitors are segregated, resulting in there being only two Olympic sports in which men and women compete directly against each other – those are equestrian (comprising dressage, jumping, and eventing – but there it is the horses that actual provide the strength, isn’t it?) and sailing – BUT only in ONE relatively new class (small catamaran) with a MIXED crew of TWO needing combined small crew weight. In Tennis & Badmington there are of course mixed doubles events also, as does ice skating with a pair dancing on the ice.

There are however nowadays quite a number of major amateur, and professional sports where there are separate male and female competitions and there are an increasing number of them, where women certainly excel, but of which many are just those sports where female involvement rile men, because historically males have long since considered those sports their gender’s sole domain – in Britain that would of course specifically include the main sports of association football and cricket, but also encompass tennis, squash, swimming, golf, hockey, rugby, athletics, gymnastics, golf, skating, cycling, rowing, and even motorsport, perhaps as well these days?

Take non-amateur women’s football just for a start (which was solely semi-professional, but more recently the majority of clubs in NWSL1 have changed to ‘full-time’ squads), for while competing major women’s clubs are ‘affiliates’ of the male club ‘counterparts’ [like say the most successful one Arsenal Ladies, or Chelsea Ladies (top last season)], they certainly do not share the same large stadiums as the male team, but they all instead have to rent and share smaller stadiums from lower-level soccer clubs [does that sound to you like women being treated equally, eh?)’. What kind of message does that send to the British general population about the role of women in sports society, or indeed women’s place in a major sport – and what encouragement does it give to young girls to get interested in football (or indeed ANY sport), when they see females treated as second-class ‘bit-players’, eh? So, we don’t see the best top women players banking £260,000 a WEEK [that is thirteen-and-a-half MILLION pounds a year – Wayne Rooney Manchester United) when that club don’t even have a woman’s team these days (it was dropped a decade ago by the owners (as it was not part of the core business, eh?). No, women in most part only get paid a pittance say £100/week (particularly the young players) so have to rely on part-time jobs or schooling outside the game to survive (a top senior player at a big Super League club might get a meager £650 a week) – sound like equality to you? Most teams have a long way to go to catch-up even with those paying those inadequate amounts. [The rules of the WSL put a cap on the Club’s wages bill]

At international level, the England woman’s national football team are top quality with some great players and a fantastic striker, finishing third at the last women’s World Cup in 2015, in their last 3 games beat Austria, Switzerland, and Denmark (friendlies) and indeed played Scotland tonight (with a very convincing win), and then Spain & Portugal later this month in the finals of Euro 2017 (having qualified for the finals at the top of their group by winning 7 of their 8 games, no less?).

England women international Players (30 of them) now do get paid (through central contracts which are separate from any club contracts), that brings in say another £500/week – so income is light-years away from what male footballers rake-in, isn’t it?

Turning then to the other main bastion of male dominated sport, cricket (the so-called game of gentlemen, eh?). Well, it used to be that ALL professional cricketers were employed by County teams, but that all changed a decade-and-a-half ago when the England cricket board (ECB) introduced central contracts for the main international players, which currently gives them a Retainer fee (£700,000 and the Test Captain gets a 25% bonus on top), Test fees (£12,000 a game), One Day International fees (£5,000 a game), T20 fee (£2,500 a game), or in another category for the next tier, White Ball contracts with Retainer fee (County salary). Test fees (£12,000 a game), ODI fees (£5,000 a game), T20 fees (£2,500 a game).

Now that brings-in pro-cricketers a very vert tidy sum doesn’t it, even if it isn’t a patch on what ludicrous money is doshed out to the main professional male footballers, eh?

So how well is it going with salaries in women’s cricket then, do you think? Ah, improving certainly, as they went up by a massive ‘half’ in an increase last year, due to the much financially improved ‘central contracts’ for women cricketers announced by all the top 3 cricket nations of England, Australia and India, and even the women players in Pakistan, and South Africa have now got what is ‘said’ to be lucrative central contracts (really?? We don’t think so!).

What are the actual numbers, then? Well, don’t get too excited, will you females? No, there are just ONLY 19 women cricketers contracted to the England & Wales cricket board, and they get a Retainer fee (only £50,000 though), Test fees (only £1,000 a game), One Day International fees (only £500 a game), T20 fees only £500 a game), plus winning bonuses for ICC competitions, and individual performance related bonuses. Hardly a mammoth reward, eh?

Now, England have got a really good woman’s national cricket team in terms of performance – well, they beat South Africa yesterday in the World Cup semi-final, didn’t they? [Previously in that competition they had beaten West Indies, New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan].

OK then, it might be said (with some validity certainly) that there is less public spectator interest in those two major sports in the women’s game, but that is surely influences by the dire lack of equal publicity and media attention, don’t you think?

So, let’s look at professional tennis as well, shall we? Well, in years long gone there has been quite a lot of effort made to try to get better parity in payment between men and women (indeed forty-five years ago, the US Open was the first Grand Slam tennis tournament give equal prize money to male and female players, wasn’t it?). While there can be no doubt that tennis has helped narrow sports gender wage gap, events prove that equal still doesn’t really mean equal in the world of tennis, does it? No, when you compare the earnings of the top male players against their female counterparts, it far outstrips them by far, doesn’t it? Yes, and that is simply basically because for some reason it is the men who get many more endorsement deals and sponsorships than the women do, plus their matches are given the more prominent TV slots and media coverage (that results from the misconception that the men’s game is more challenging and popular, when in fact often women’s matches gain higher TV ratings than the men’s, so there!).

The highest paid male player pulled-in some £52million against only £22million of the top paid female, and that pattern is replicated as you go down the list to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and so on, isn’t it? So even in modern times in an extremely popular spectator sport, where talented men and women perform their trade across the globe on the same days, at the same venues, in equivalent competitions, the specter of gender inequality rears its ugly head doesn’t it?

It is an unacceptable situation particularly when one considers that men’s tennis is performed by unattractive, testosterone galvanised, surly, bad-tempered, shouting,  males whose main attribute seems to be to start off by hitting a tennis ball at 160 miles an hour at their opponent or out of reach, so that it is virtually impossible to return and then establish a proper tennis game, don’t you think? Furthermore, they are prone to outburst of objectional expletive language, racket breaking, abuse of the ball-boys & girls, and even at the latest Wimbledon, a senior player throwing coins AT the umpire (because some decisions went against him), as well as turning out unfit to simply claim the appearance money, or alternatively faking injury in an attempt  to interrupt their opponent’s rhythm. What’s there to like, eh?

Compare that with the attractions of watching the women’s game, where we can see fit & nimble, elegant, attractive, skittish, females of all ages, with ponytails and bob hair styles bouncing around the place, running to the net, skipping around the court playing exquisite, elegant, tennis strokes with aplomb, in an exciting competitive tussle. What’s not to like, eh?

Forget equal pay. Men should not be paid at all, only women, who should get DOUBLE  – because the overgrown hairy sweaty boring boys should be off playing a macho sport like rugby  and not a girls game like tennis, eh?

In conclusion then, there is another serious matter to raise, and that involves the inexplicable damage to ‘gender equality in sport’ that is delivered by the advertising fraternity. You see, over many decades it has come to generally stigmatize women by portraying them in a negative manner and as less significant than men, and that has been reflected in its portraying men more positively than women, and also in sport (is that because the ad industry is dominated by men, do you think?). That has resulted in example in its use of male sports personalities to advertise and support their particular sport discipline as well as in endorsing commercial products (like say Gary Lineker with crisps). When it comes to female sports the sportswomen personalities, they get the cold shoulder and the advertising media resort instead to using professional models, who they wrongly assume will make a more attractive image, so they certainly don’t use our ‘real’ sportswomen for product promotion, do they?

 

[Unfortunately, even in our progressive British society, it is going to take some decades (if not even a suffragette style campaign and legislation?) to achieve an acceptable level of sports equality, don’t you think?]

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