I’ve worked in sports branding for the past 15 years supporting teams and governing bodies involved in motorsport, the Olympics, pro-cycling and sailing, and have also got up close and personal with the world of Premiership football and international horse racing. In all that time I’ve always known it was broadly a man’s world and that women were more often than not regarded as the support act.
Women still come second, but at least we feature
Scanning through the sports section of the Sunday Telegraph today and something amazing struck me. Women’s sport was featured prominently. OK, not on the first 5 pages to be fair, (let’s not expect too much shall we?) but from page 6 onwards women were getting the lionesses share of the action.
The Women’s World Cup had a full centre page spread. Female-focused coverage of tennis, cycling, horse racing and athletics got most of the column inches in the second half of the paper.
Overall, I have calculated that men’s sport got 50% of the news and advertising coverage in the 12 page sports section, women got 40% and the rest could not be attributed to one sex or the other, such as the racing results and adverts for doorbells! A 5:4 ratio is progress indeed even if the women did get to feature after all the men.
Body image is still a female issue
It was sad to read that the feature on Holly Bradshaw the pole vaulter focused on her body image, highlighting social media taunts that described her as ‘fat’. Would the Telegraph ever write an article about a male athlete that focused on their body image in the same way? I doubt it.
The Commonwealth Sports Movement shows us the way
We’re currently working with the Commonwealth Games where men and women and able bodied and para athletes compete on the same terms, at the same time, for the same recognition.
No other multi-sport event anywhere in the world is as inclusive, fair or progressive. The Commonwealth Sports Movement’s core belief in equality makes many other sports brands and events feel out of tune with our times. It’s a refreshingly different ethos.
But I thought it was worth recognising that things are changing. Fast. Hopefully in 15 years I won’t need to get my calculator out to work out what’s fair or not. We’ll all just know.
Rebecca is the founder and Managing Director of rbl. An experienced brand and marketing professional, Rebecca has spent over 30 years helping clients to build, design and manage their brands.