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Women’s sporting coverage has always been inadequate on our televisions, with the majority of coverage being men’s sport but it’s time for change. 

Sporting Minister, Mims Davies has begun battling for female equality in a recent speech at the UK Sport’s Future Funding Strategy launch:

“Women’s sport on television remains too much of a novelty. Sometimes we are still surprised to see it appear on terrestrial channels”

Statistics from Women In Sport suggest that women’s sport make up 7% of all sport media coverage in the UK with just over 10% being televised sporting coverage. 

And as obvious as it is from people’s experiences, the amount of men’s coverage is significantly more. 

Although there has been an improvement in the amount of women’s sporting coverage since the 2012 Olympic Games, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup on the BBC, 2017 UEFA Women’s Euros shown on Channel 4, and the Women’s Rugby 2017 World Cup shown on ITV4, there is still not enough. 

This has many questioning; is a correlation between the lack of women’s sporting coverage and the number of inactive females?

A survey conducted by Sport England concluded that over one year in 2016, 8.6% fewer women took part in sport at least once a week as opposed to men. 

Dempster Marples, a member of Mims Davies’ Ministerial Support Team said:

“The government wants to raise the profile of women’s sport so that TV channels and newspapers increase their coverage of women’s sport. This will lead to more companies investing money into women’s sport, and hopefully to more girls and women playing and watching sport.”

The manifesto put together by the Sporting Minister is already taking effect.

Marples added,

“I am also delighted that the BBC will show the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer.”

There is no doubt that the Women’s World Cup being broadcasted on the BBC is a relief to many professional sportswomen.  

Alisha Buckingham, Southampton FC ladies first-team player and England beach soccer player said:

“The only game of mine that has been shown on television is beach soccer, the games of which I have played on grass have not been streamed. 

“Therefore, broadcasting the Women’s World Cup is a really exciting opportunity for people to see the levels of women’s football and how good it actually is which hopefully will inspire the youth of today.”

Buckingham added,

“Women’s football needs to be shown more and at different levels so that youths have a pathway to follow, goals to reach and role models to thrive off of.

As much as media coverage is important in encouraging women into taking up the sport, other factors must be considered.

Buckingham suggested that,  

“More activities should be introduced in and out of school for girls to attend. These clubs should be for a variety of age groups so that they have more time to learn and improve to become the best possible.

“Sometimes even word of mouth and advertising can entice females into taking up a sport.”

During the UK Sport’s Future Funding strategy Davies discussed the importance of parent’s and the benefit of encouraging their children into sport and also the importance of physical education in schools.

“As a minimum, schools must ensure children are physically literate. It is just as important that parents encourage kids to be active, as it is to read the books or do times tables. Children need to learn how to run, jump, throw, catch. All of these things are fundamental to building a sporting habit for life. And maybe come an elite!”

With this being said, a cross-government sport strategy called “Sporting Future” has been put together by the Minister to tackle discrimination. 

Marples said,

“We want sport to be at the forefront of equality. 

“We fully support a zero-tolerance stance, and we will continue to work with National Governing Bodies of Sport and organisations such as Kick It Out, Stonewall and Women in Football to tackle discrimination in local, national and international sport.

Adding that,

“It is important that we make progress in the wider culture of sport to ensure women’s sport is treated equally to men at all levels.”

However, it is not just women’s sport that Davies would like to see an increase in. The Sporting Minister and Tracey Crouch also want to see more coverage of disabled sports in order to inspire all. 

Adding in her speech,

“Whoever we are, we have the right to be inspired by the diversity in sport that shows the best in all of us.”

Despite the efforts of the government to introduce more coverage of women’s sport, viewers may just not be interested. 

A survey conducted by insure4sport.co.uk concluded that roughly 37% of people who answered the survey prefer to watch men’s sport than women. 

Therefore, could the investments made by the government to increase coverage of women’s sport be a complete waste of time or are viewers just not giving women the chance. 

Alisha Buckingham said, 

“A lot of people underestimate women’s football and are quite easy to make offensive remarks and jump to conclusions.”

Even if the public is not interested in increasing the amount of women’s sporting coverage, the government are still doing their best to keep it the main priority to maximise the potential benefits of increasing the overall participation of women taking part in physical activity. 

Marples went on to say, 

“We will continue to work hard to close the gender gap in participation and remain determined to work in partnership with our sporting bodies to encourage more girls and women to participate in, and enjoy watching, sport at all levels.”

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