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In the last week the national American women’s soccer team has withdrawn from a friendly event, citing concerns about the quality of the playing surface.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

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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