20 Feb 2021
We are due to leave the house in a little while, to head out to a sporting game. While waiting, and digesting our lunch, we are catching up on replays of a tennis game.
Tennis is one of those games that I don’t care whether it’s a men’s game, a woman’s game, a doubles whether mixed or otherwise, or wheelchair athletes. They’re all very good at what they do. Power, skill and concentration, no matter who’s doing it. If you’d asked me a few years ago, I’d tell you that if you aren’t watching the tv, you could tell it was a woman’s game by listening to the groaning, grunting and carryon when they hit the ball, but lately the men are out-groaning the women on occasion, so that identifier is gone.
When I was at school, girls played netball, or hockey, depending on the season. There were other sports that some girls got involved in, but not many. Boys played mainly footy in winter and cricket in summer, but they had a lot more options like hockey and basketball.
The world has changed in the last 40 or so years since I left school.
This afternoon we are going to a women’s AFL match. I enjoy watching the women playing the sport, but not everyone does. Their main complaints seem to be “it’s not like the men’s game”. Sure – it’s not as high scoring, but you can’t tell any of us sitting around watching it that it’s not as physical.
But regardless – it’s a sporting game that females have learned to play, trained hard, and they play it. Not playing it ‘to the best of their abilities’, not ‘in a modified manner in how it should be played’, but as a sport that they are good at.
Women’s cricket has increased in popularity and media attention over the past five or so years. Our Australian team have been very successful, and this probably more than anything else is what has attracted television people. Likewise women’s soccer.
Team sporting competitions played by women don’t get the media coverage that sports played by men do. The “professional” element comes into this, when players are paid enough for playing the sport that it becomes their full time job. They don’t get paid that level of money until the media covers the competition enough to attract corporate sponsorship, and public attending the games.
In the footy game we are watching, the players are holding down jobs as physiotherapists, teachers and more. One of the team missed a game due to her commitments as a firefighter.
Even though I crossed out the word ‘woman’s’ at the beginning of this post, I have continually referenced ‘women’s’ sporting teams. And I’m conscious that this goes against the purpose of what I’m writing.
I know that women’s sport should just be sport, regardless of the gender of who plays it.
But until there is the same prominence given to sports played with balls or not (sorry, Mum) – then woman’s sport will always be referenced as something different.