Bright future for women’s cricket in Australia

The Hobart Hurricanes played their first Women’s Big Bash League games at Bellerive’s Blundstone Arena over the weekend. The women had a solid win over the Brisbane Heat on New Year’s Day to a vocal home crowd of around 4000 people, prior to the record crowd at the men’s game later in the evening.

After a disappointing loss to the now top placed Sydney Thunder, the Hurricanes currently sit second on the ladder and have three more matches to play before finals. They will be looking to get back into their winning form. Continue reading


Second rate facilities for female athletes

In the last week the national American women’s soccer team has withdrawn from a friendly event, citing concerns about the quality of the playing surface. This is not an isolated incident; the women continually find themselves playing on artificial turf (rather than grass, is accepted as the standard surface material, and which the men play on).

Whilst their concerns have centered on safety, it should be a general expectation that women and men playing at the elite level (or any level, for that matter) have access to grounds and sporting fields of a similar calibre. As the US team’s open letter stated, “at the end of the day, we expect to be treated equally as our male counterparts”. Continue reading

More balance needed in the commentary box

While watching the Melbourne Cup last week, no matter your opinion about horse racing as a sport, it was exciting to see the first win by a female jockey, Michelle Payne. As an advocate for female athletes, it was even more exciting to hear Payne calling out sexism in her sport, and telling doubters who think women aren’t strong or good enough to “get stuffed”.

Despite this strong message I couldn’t help but cringe when, in the moments after the win when the commentators were trying to fill the gaps before they could get an interview, Payne was described as a “beautiful young lady”, or words to that effect. I doubt you would have heard a male jockey described as “handsome” had he won. In addition, a few have since tried to suggest that Payne should not have called out the sexism in racing as she did, which of course just reinforces the problem.

For all the strides that women have made in sport, and the increasing acceptance of female athletes, there is a pervasive problem whereby media coverage continues to focus on women’s bodies, their fashion, or their social lives, rather than their sport. This belittles their achievements. Whilst in the case of Michelle Payne the comment on air was fairly benign, it highlights the fact that commentators still seem to find it hard to know quite what to say about female athletes. Continue reading

‘Amazonian Rules’ – a history of women playing Aussie Rules

Last month we saw the very first live broadcast of a women’s AFL game. This generated a great deal of interest which, apart from a few notable exceptions (such as the contribution from Graham Cornes) has been generally positive.

But how long have women been playing AFL? And what is the history of the game? Whilst female participation in footy has been growing steadily, there has actually been interest for some time – in fact, the game in August this year could represent a hundred years of women playing AFL. Continue reading

Beams rises to the top

The talk of the town at the moment is the Men’s Ashes series which starts tonight (Australian time). However, did you know that the Women’s Ashes is also played this month? The series kicks off on July 21 in the UK. For the Southern Stars, ODI and T20 cricket is the most common form of the game; however, the Ashes works on a points system and includes one Test match. It could provide an opportunity for three in the squad– Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton and Jess Jonassen – to make their Test debuts.

For Beams, inclusion in the squad follows a very successful period of her career. Continue reading

Body Language – it’s time to change what we are saying about women in sport

Sportette has recently released its new online campaign, “Strong is the New Pretty”. The aim of the campaign is to showcase female athletes “with the theme that strength is beauty”, in order to provide “healthy, strong, fit” role models for young girls. The first (and so far only) role model is Matildas star Tameka Butt, and the website shows six images of Butt in various poses – most with a soccer ball. She is wearing just a crop top and shorts, so that her well defined abdominal muscles are evident. Although Sportette’s aim is to reframe the view of women in sport, through this campaign it nonetheless maintains the focus on the body and, indeed, what is ‘pretty’ (whether it’s strength or otherwise). The bigger issue, that we are still focusing on what women look like, rather than what they do, seems to have been lost. Continue reading

In the same league – the growing popularity of women’s sport

In the Herald Sun today – the same day that the Matildas made it to Australia’s first ever FIFA world cup quarter finals (men’s or women’s) – Rita Panahi wrote about how she “couldn’t care less about women’s sport”. Her argument seems to be wholly based upon the ‘fact’ that sportsmen are “vastly superior to the female equivalent” and therefore there is no market for women’s sports.

As ‘evidence’ for this, Panahi trots out the 1993 tennis matches between the Williams sisters and 203 ranked Karsten Braasch, where Braasch won. This is hardly the point (though, if Panahi needs some arguments to the contrary, there are plenty – think the 1973 tennis ‘battle of the sexes’ with Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs in three sets; or perhaps in cricket in 1994 when Australia’s Zoe Goss dismissed batting legend Brian Lara; or the fact that Steffi Graf is the only player to have been able to achieve a Golden Slam; and so on).

However, the pitting of men versus women in the same game is not just fairly irrelevant to the worth of women’s sport. In fact, it completely misses the point. Continue reading