I am confused about women in sport. Perhaps other people can inform me. I will listen to other people. Some are women. Some are men telling me they don’t watch woman’s cricket or the women’s football because they are not as good.
I listen to a man who says,” I’m a sportsman. I watch all sport; football, cricket and rugby. Not the women of course. ”
My mind drifts back to when I was young and I watched AFL football with my sisters and cousins.
We all had the same heroes on the football field and we all knew we would never emulate them. My sisters and I all looked on EJ the same. We cheered him (because he was our best player) and knew we would never emulate him on the football field.
The sporting heroes who inspired me were different. They were Raelene Boyle, Ralph Dobell, Eyvon Cawley, Margaret Court, Ken Rosewell, John Newcombe and John McEnroe. These were the people who inspired me and got me to get out and copy them.
We all thought men watching females play netball were dirty old men having a perve.
My days of watching AFL have been replaced by parkrun. Parkrun is the future. Before or after parkrun I stop and talk to other runners. The runners could be classified by sex, sexuality, age, health or ability. I see them all as people who have made an effort to be fitter and healthier by running/walking 5 kms. That is what we have in common. That’s is what I normally talk about. Running 5 kms.
The people at parkrun are fit and healthy. They never mention the media coverage of women in sport. They never mention the wages of elite sportspeople. They never say the system favours men. They never say they don’t play sport because the sports pages are all about young able-bodied men. They never say we need a special parkrun dedicated to women.
At parkrun we are not running in order to come first. I win every time I finish. It’s all about me. My victory comes from becoming fit and healthy.
I am a sportsman who has no interest in watching sport. I much prefer to play sport. To get the physical, social, emotional, mental benefits of playing sport. My victory does not come from following a team that wins.
I see the sport on TV as pure entertainment. Same value as soap opera. Not connected to the health of the community. Sport in the media is unscripted drama. With players we either love or love to hate. Good and bad characters. People or teams we boo or support whenever they enter the stage.
Just as with any soap opera, sport on TV should reflect our society. Sport should have a balance of males and females; able bodied and disabled; young and old people. We are a better society when all these groups are looked on as containing elite sportspeople. Where my grandkids imagine physically fit and healthy people are everywhere.
Back to my grandkids. Their heroes are Spiderman, Luke Skywalker, Princes Leia, singers, actors and TV personalities. I can’t control what they watch on TV or the Net. What I care about is their physical health. At the moment they play sport that is accessible and available. They play what their friends play? They play what is well organised and well managed?
They are playing the same sports as I did many years ago. Sport has remained the same but our society is changing. My grandkids will live in a different society to the one I grew up in.
I dream of my male and female grandkids becoming fit and healthy. I don’t see their future physical health relate to any sport or drama on TV. But I do want them to grow up in a society where TV reflects their community. The dramas and sport on TV should feature all people. Males, females, able bodied, disabled, young, elderly with every different heritage.
I look forward to a future were Kay looks on International Women’s Day as an unnecessary anachronism. Were Bruce never says, “Men are better than women.”
I look forward to a future where parkrun is the normal. Where everybody is welcomed. Where everybody is respected because they are different and unique. Where everybody’s aim is to be fit and healthy.
I look forward to a future where the shows on TV (including sport) represent the community we live in.
A future where my grandkids are all fit and healthy. Physically, socially, mentally and emotionally. Were their community is a fit healthy community.