Why are no women up for the BBC sports personality award?
Female world champs have been overlooked in favour of more famous but less successful men
WITH not a single women on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist the spotlight has been turned on the 27 sports editors from newspapers and magazines up and down the country who helped compile the list and their attitudes towards female sport.
Candidates including world champion swimmers Rebecca Adlington and Keri-Anne Payne and taekwondo gold-medallist Sarah Stevenson were all overlooked in favour of male stars like Andy Murray and Rory McIlroy.
Something is wrong
"It's a travesty," says triathlete and Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington writing in The Daily Mail and it reflects a "marginalisation" of women in sport.
"If I thought the 10 men who had been nominated were the best candidates, that would be fine because you don't want tokenism. But you want those on the list to be the cream of the crop and some of them are not."
Andy Bull in The Guardian says: "There are plenty of bad excuses for this but no good explanations". He goes on to present an alternative all-female list of candidates. It includes Charlotte Edwards, the England women’s cricket captain, Beth Tweddle, the gymnast, Kath Grainger, the most successful female rower in British history, as well as Adlington, Payne and Wellington.
It's a sign of the times
Male team sports dominate the sporting psyche laments Laura Williamson in the Mail. "In a non-Olympic year, the list sums up the pervading attitude towards women's sport in this country. We do not have a British female tennis player to rival Andy Murray and we only really care about swimming and athletics every four years when there's an Olympic gold at stake."
Who is to blame?
It is a chicken-and-egg situation according to Gabby Logan in The Times. "Are the 27 sports editors... taking their lead from the TV coverage given to sport, or is TV sport reflecting what we read in the papers?" she asks.
"I would argue that television and the press have to take responsibility together; women's sport is under-represented everywhere."
Attitudes need to change
It's not just that the media ignore female sport, many of the publications that were asked to vote objectify women. The Daily Telegraph's Tanya Aldred notes: "Three publish topless pictures of women and two — Zoo and Nuts magazines – peddle little better than soft porn and have an interest in women more visceral than thoughtful."
Of course the list is based on opinion, she adds. "But when subjectivity leads to a blindness to half the population, you’ve got to ask a question about society. Are female athletes performing in some shadowy stadium, where no one watches and no one cares?"
Here’s the bottom line...
The Independent was one of ten publications that did not choose a woman in its list, and Glenn Moore, the paper's football editor is unapologetic.
"Women's sport does not get much media attention because the public do not demand it," he says. "The Independent's sports desk gets more letters asking for increased coverage of lower league football, or racecards, than of women's sport.
"Until women's sport attracts greater interest, coverage will remain sparse." ·