The Council of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA) Women’s Championship concluded in Zimbabwe last week, with the hosts beating three-time champions Banyana Banyana to win the fourth year of the competition.
I only heard about this on Banyana Banyana’s Facebook page, because the tournament was never televised.
The World Netball Championships were held in Singapore earlier this month, but the only coverage I saw was a nib in The Times announcing the commencement of the competition. Yet again, not televised.
I have a bone to pick with broadcasters (not you, DStv, I loved your coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany).
Why is it so hard to broadcast women’s sport when any premier (male) football and rugby match will be covered, even if the prize is just a container of yoghurt?
Our broadcasters can send teams to cover the (frankly pointless) Vodacom Challenge between Tottenham Hotspur, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, but won’t bother covering international, important events like the World Netball Championships.
South African boxer Noni Tenge knocked Daniella Smith’s lights out to secure the International Boxing Federation’s women’s welterweight title in June. Was it televised? Nah.
Even sports minister Fikile Mbalula feels my pain.
“It’s a shame that a fight like this one, when we produce a world champion, is not televised,” he told reporters after Tenge’s triumph.
Why does women’s sport get shafted so much? In a bid to answer this question, I went to the library (yes, I use the library). This is what I found:
In an article for the Sports Illustrated magazine, Frank Deford argued that sports coverage was dictated by what people wanted to see, read and hear about.
“Unfortunately, women don’t support their sisters playing games nearly as much as men watch their brethren in athletic pursuits,” he said (somewhat patronisingly).
But Deford’s protestations are countered by the Women’s Sports Foundation; a non-profit founded by tennis legend Billie Jean King in the US. I’m forced to use US data because I can’t find any such data in South Africa. This says A LOT.
A study conducted by this foundation found that nationwide US data indicated that women make up 38-42% of all sport and physical activity participants. Yet, these sportswomen receive approximately 6-8% of the total sports coverage.
“Research by the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles shows that the primary factor in determining what sports get covered in newspapers is the sports interests of the sports editor. Many sports editors grew up in a time and culture in which the abilities of women to play sports were devalued,” the foundation says.
Deford spoke off the cuff, the foundation is backed by solid research. The foundation wins this argument.
Follow Moyagabo Maake on twitter @Momaake