Stepford wives have no place in sport

Posted September 30, 2012

Stepford wives have no place in sport

The Daily Express featured a bevy of beauties on its page three this week. Admittedly they were all dressed in evening wear rather than … … well, undressed.

Beneath a caption that read, Glittering WAGS get in the swing, was a group photograph of the Ryder Cup wives and girlfriends. It was taken at a black tie event during which the European golf team “showed off” their other halves.  “Showed off?” Sorry – am I caught up in some weird time travel experiment that’s taken me back to the 1970s Stepford wife?

During the Olympics we were happy to showcase women as serious sports contenders in their own right. In fact, we were in thrall to our sporting heroines. Now, it’s hard to unearth even one story that features a woman for her sporting achievements. Men’s sport dominates; women’s sport is once again side lined.
The disparity in pay reflects this. In the Twenty20 cricket tournament in Sri Lanka, the winning men’s team are set to take home £616,000; a mere £40,000 will go to the women. As if that isn’t enough to contend with, the English female cricket team also has to make do with travelling economy whilst their male counterparts get to travel business class. I’m surprised they don’t have them serving up nibbles from the trolley.

Such obvious disparity, it is argued, is down to the difference in the fan base. Male players attract more viewers and sponsor deals. Women are just being paid according to their commercial value. That would be bargain basement then?

But aren’t we locked in a classic catch-22 scenario? The reality is that women’s sport isn’t given the same exposure as men’s sport. Without media coverage the fan base for female sport stands little chance of growing. And yet we know that women’s sport can generate large audiences - 16 million people watched Jessica Ennis win gold in the Olympic heptathlon. Male and female cycling was roared on, in equal measure, in the Velodrome.

There are signs of change though. Bizarrely, it’s in woman’s golf that the pay gap is beginning to close, with female golfers now earning three quarters of the men’s pay.

Does that mean that we’re one step closer to a HABS (husbands and boyfriends) prime beefcake photoshoot?

Image: Getty

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