When I was growing up in the 1990s, I thought sport was predominantly played by men. Almost all of the sport on television involved only men and almost all of the newspaper coverage was about men’s sport.
As I got older, I realised my early impressions were misleading and that there was plenty of sport being played by women. The only difference was that very little of it was on TV and it was not given much attention by Britain’s national newspapers.
Although steps have been taken to improve the situation, not much has changed on the news front. On the day I did my research, only two of the 39 stories shown on the top-half of the sport pages of the five most-visited news websites in the UK (BBC, The Guardian, Mail Online, Give Me Sport and The Telegraph) were about women’s sport.
The BBC deserves credit for featuring women’s sport in their top story (albeit in a story about new women’s football coach Phil Neville), but none of the other sites emerged with any credit from this research. It can’t simply be dismissed as a slow news day for women’s sport either, because it is the normal state of affairs to see the sports pages dominated by men’s sport, and men’s football in particular. If you look at the same five sites on most days, it is highly likely you will find a similar situation.
Now imagine there was a site where you would only find stories about women’s sport, where you could load up the home page and see pictures of inspiring sportswomen (like the Great Britain women’s hockey team pictured above) every time. Imagine it had well-written and thoroughly-researched articles about women’s sport all over the page. Imagine it featured exclusive interviews with participants. Imagine there was an RSS feed down the right-hand side of the page containing links to all the latest women’s sport stories from other sites so you didn’t have to go searching around to find what you’re looking for.
And if that wasn’t already enough, imagine it also had articles about less-traditional forms of physical exercise like yoga, dance and gymnastics. Imagine there was a social media feed full of the latest posts by prominent figures in women’s sport. And finally, imagine you could visit a site every day that made you feel like women’s sport was the most important thing in the world. There are very few, if any, other sites that can promise you that.
It’s a dream scenario, isn’t it? And I believe it’s what the UK’s news reporting scene needs right now. There has been some significant progress in terms of coverage for women’s sport, but it is nowhere near enough yet. I am hoping this new website can speed up the process and ensure women’s sport is at the forefront of more people’s minds. It should not be hard to find a story about women’s sport, and soon it won’t be. I will make sure of it.