Women in sport are definitely having their moment in the spotlight.
Serena Williams has won her sixth Wimbledon title being dubbed ‘the greatest player of all time’, the England women’s cricket team have started their defence of The Ashes with a four wicket-win over Australia and a little closer to home, Northampton’s Town Ladies Football Club Under 18s had a 100 per cent win record last season and are therefore primed for another exciting campaign.
With all of this success, it baffles me that women’s sport is still compared to men’s, and to further my thinking, a former colleague asked me over lunch ‘do you think women’s football should be compared to men’s?’.
The question was asked due to the way the women’s game is covered.
If you go onto most of the influential news sites, women’s football is set apart and away from the ‘football’ category.
I went further into this theory and saw that women’s cricket was separate to men’s, but tennis, athletics and sailing sees both genders under the same headings.
Is the media making it worse?
By separating these stories so vividly, is it making the already minimal seven per cent* of sports coverage that focuses on females that much more prominent in the negative? (*from recent Women Sport and Fitness Foundation research)
It’s almost as if some media are trying to prove a point that they sometimes cover these incredible successes that in some cases their male counterparts could only dream of.
My answer to the question was no, you cannot compare sport between the two genders and for many reasons.
Men’s and women’s physiques are different, which automatically makes the make-up of the same sports different across the gender divide.
Differences in funding and sponsorships means women’s sport isn’t as accessible as men’s, but also, what’s the point?
Both are capable of great things and both are equally as exciting.
Serena Williams provided some of the most intense tennis of Wimbledon 2015, while the sell-out women’s football World Cup atmosphere proved that the crowds were equally as gripped.
The sooner the comparison stops, the sooner both genders will reap the equal rewards deserved.
Sport brings together people from all over the world, and while we have a long way to go to reach equality that should have never become so divided in the first place, it will happen.
Just like Serena and just like our county’s extremely talented under 18s.
Tweet me your active stories and pictures to @Adrianne_Hill or if you have an activity or event happening, let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Mental health can be barrier to being active
This week it was announced that Sport England and the mental health charity Mind have joined forces and created the Get Set to Go campaign, which aims to help around 75,000 people with mental health problems get active.
The launch comes after a survey found that almost 70 per cent of people say that mental health issues are a barrier to them playing sport, while a whopping 80 per cent are too self conscious about their bodies to get involved.
Recently, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how our everyday lives can negatively impact our mental health and cause us to forget what means the most to us, and also delving a little deeper to look at it from the even more pressurized environment of being a woman in sport.
Not to say men don’t have their own pressures because they do, but, being a woman, it seems to me that there is that constant pressure of having to look fabulous all the time, to be slim, graceful and do 101 different things at once without a grumble.
Women who want to get involved at the grassroots level of sport have often had to tackle these pressures so much in everyday life that they’re lacking the confidence to get started.
At the top level of elite sport, I’ve spoken to athletes who struggle day to day simply because their they have to fight against their dominant male counterparts and feel patronised by them.
Thankfully, this isn’t the case for all.
But for this amount of people to be afraid of taking part in sport is far too many for me.
As you know, I’m a huge advocate of how sport can change lives and how it positively impacts those who take part; whether that’s mentally, socially or that it simply gives them that sense of achievement, which in turn breeds confidence in other areas of life.
I truly believe this new campaign will shine a light on the struggles people face when living with a mental illness, and will encourage those people to take the first step on a new positive journey.
If you’re thinking of taking up an activity, now is the time to stop thinking and to get up and do it.
Grab that old t-shirt and pair of shorts, put on the trainers and get out there!
If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of resources and tools available to help.
Northants Sport have a local activity finder plus plenty of resources on local clubs and activity schemes that are happening in the county.
From cycling to Nordic walking, there is something for everyone.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, positive or negative, take a deep breath and take the first step on your sporting journey – I guarantee it will always leave you enriched.
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