Less complaining, More Watching..

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Social and mainstream media lately has been enjoying publishing articles and memes (although annoyingly I can't find any examples of the memes now I'm looking for them) designed to outrage, regarding the disparity between the amount of cash the Socceroos earn per game, and the amount of cash the Matildas do.  

There have been many articles with titles like:

  • Matildas v Socceroos: Some absolutely shocking stats …
  • Matildas vs Socceroos: the gender pay gap

and the one that amused & annoyed me most of all..   

  • You might not love sport, but if you’re a woman this will make you angry.
You know what, I am a woman, and I actually do like sport, but I'm not angry - I think getting upset by that is like winning tattslotto and being upset because the winner the week before won three million dollars more.

People doing the worst jobs often get paid the least.  People working side by side on the same task, get paid different amounts (normally to the disadvantage of the woman).  I'm way more outraged by that.  

But when it comes to sport,  anyone being paid more than a single dollar, is just really really really lucky.   For every sports person who earns anything, there are millions more who play their mainstream or quirky alternative sport from amateur to elite level for absolutely nothing.    Sure it sounds bad to say the Matildas only get $600 per game while the Socceroos get $6000, but when you say the Matildas get $600 to play, while most Australians compete at world championships level completely at their own expense, it starts to sound like a pretty good thing!    There are SO MANY other sports, and don't forget paralympics sports too, which yield no personal funding to the athlete at all.  Many australian athletes even had to fund their own trips to the London Olympics.    I wish everyone could be paid evenly for what they loved to do,  but we don't live in a communist state, and if we did,I doubt the occupation "sportsperson" would make it on to the list of jobs we all got paid equally for.

So I see being paid at all as good fortune, a weird stroke of luck, rather than a right.  If you are lucky enough to be really really good at one of the very very few professional sports to get paid, then good on you. And if you aren't paid as much as the player down the other end of the field, or the male team across the road, well too bad.  For every one of you there are millions of us. Count your blessings and don't complain.  And quite frankly, I don't recon it's the Matildas who are actually complaining in this instance - I think it's just nice media fodder.

And while I'm on a sport related soapbox,  every time I see a post or article complaining about the lack of coverage of female sports in the media I put my head in my hands.  If you were the average reader getting upset by those articles (which I know you aren't cos you're too smart, but if you were, this is what I would say, if I could address you:

"Dear intelligent yet outraged female reader,  I wonder when the last time you went to watch a female game of elite sport was?    And the last time you went to a men's game (say the AFL, or Victory league?).   Maybe it's hard to actually get OUT to games at all, I can understand that. 

So how about we just consider one aspect of the coverage of womens sport in the Media,  womens sport on TV.. Here's a fact for you:

Women feature in only 7 per cent of sports programming in Australia

If you felt outraged when you read that, then tell me who won the W-League this year.  Do you even know what the W-league is?  That WAS televised BTW.

I really enjoy watching womens' sport on TV, particularly the basketball and the soccer.  I prefer it to watching the men's versions because I like playing those sports myself, and I can really relate to the high levels of skills on display,   as compared to my own.  On the other hand I also like watching the AFL and I'd probably do that in preference to any womens version that was televised (you know, when World-very-unlikely-day happens).  My point is that I watch both, for different reasons.

But who else is watching the women's sports?  I am the only person I know who watches the WNBL.   I love it when the W-League (that's the very short seasoned womens national soccer league btw) is on TV right before the basketball in Summer. What , you've never seen it? No kidding. I think I am the only person who has - I'm certainly the only person I know around here who watches it.  The ABC generously puts it to air year after year to what I can only imagine is a minuscule audiences.     But get this everyone (ladies in particular),  if you watched it on TV, there'd be more of it!   Sport on TV and in the media is a BUSINESS - there's no point selling ads to shows people don't watch - that's how these things end up OFF the commercial stations, and on the ABC where they are broadcast by the grace of some government regulation no doubt.     

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that there are less women who watch sport on tv than men.  I am making this assumption because I know lots of sporty women who don't take an interest in any TV sport, but most of the sporty men I know DO watch a lot of sport on TV as well. .  And I can understand that with the exception of lingerie football, or maybe even beach volleyball,  men would prefer to watch the men's version of a team sport if given the option of mens or women's.  And that's understandable - after all I  feel the same way about womens basketball and soccer.

So if less women are interested in watching any sports at all, and the men are busy watching the men's version of sports, then who is left to watch the women? Yeah. Not Many.

So unless women are prepared to watch a whole lot more women's sport, nothing is going to change in terms of TV coverage.  And with next to no TV coverage, the amount of money flowing to the players of the sports  (via TV rights & sponsorship deals anyway) is not  going to change.  

So those of us who do watch it are just going to have to keep being grateful for the 7% we do get.  So thanks ABC! (W-League, WNBL), SBS (Womens World Cup)  and TEN (who broadcast the Netball). 
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