Have you noticed something different about your sports commentary over the last few years? Besides from the additions of the recently retired megastars of the game you may have spotted there are now prominent women on the panel of most sports shows. This week’s topic surrounds gender roles and media so I thought I would stay clear of the negative associations of female media roles and look at some of the more positive aspects of the female presence within the sports commentary environment.
For years programming such as Channel 9’s NRL Footy Show have been dominated by an all male cast with the exception of segments with cheerleaders, scantily clad women and very rarely, a female who actually is interested in the game of Rugby League. As of this year the panel has its first full time female host. The incredibly talented Erin Molan. Not only is she one of the sharpest thinkers of the game, she is the perfect representative for female Rugby League lovers nationally. Her keen eye for detail and her passion for the sport have rejuvenated what was fast becoming a ratings disaster for the Nine Network.
With the NRL having countless issue of sexism and violence against women it begin to ask the question, why wasn’t this considered much earlier? According the National Rugby League official website “41% of the game’s NRL club financial members are female, increasing to 88,150 in 2013 (82,250 in 2012)”. With female participation in Rugby League on the increase there should be no doubt that Erin will not be the only female on the panel for much longer.
Recently Channel Nine has just announced that Yvonne Sampson will be joining the heavily male dominated commentary team for the 2014/2015 Cricket season. According to Steve Crawley who is the head of Channel Nine’s sports coverage Yvonne has been bought in to “improve female representation within the sport as she “’knew her cricket” and was expected to be used in a hosting/presenting role”.
There is no doubting that media outlets are now beginning to see the importance of female roles within sports commentary. However, it would be extremely naïve to consider these two roles as reaching any form of equality. For too long women’s roles within the sporting environment have been downplayed and it times, heavily ostracised. Lenskyj argues that this struggle is due to “mass medias consensus of the power elite and the dominance of male media corporate/giants (pg.21, 1998).
Will there come a day when football coverage across Australia is dominated by female reporters? I hope so. After all, they would do a far better job than this moron.
Lenskyj, J 1998, INSIDE SPORT’ OR `ON THE MARGINS’?: Australian Women and the Sport Media. International Review for the Sociology of Sport. 33 (13), 19-32, accessed 30/04/2014, Summons database.
Media & Communications & Commerce Student
University of Wollongong