The myth that there is no interest in women’s sport is crumbling fast in the wake of the Matilda’s World Cup run as well as the Diamond’s epic Netball World Cup win.
They are the talk of the town, and rightly so – the Matildas magnificent win over Brazil in the FIFA Women’s World Cup was Australia’s first ever win in the knockout stage of either the men’s or women’s global competition. Now that is an accomplishment to be proud of as fellow Australians.
Also, just a day earlier, the trans-Tasman netball championship final wowed TV audiences as the QLD Firebirds scored five straight goals in the final minutes to snatch a 57-56 win over the NSW Swifts in Brisbane.
During these epic wins, the internal metrics measuring statistics on stories at ABC News Online told its own story with audiences furiously clicking on women’s sports stories, and the appetite for them looks a long way from being satisfied.
In regards to success, ABC Grandstand’s article for the Matildas’ win over Brazil was the most popular for June 22, exceeding Jordan Spieth’s US open win and a host of ABC’s usual political stories. Similarly, the netball grand final caused lots of interest on social media, with the hashtag “Firebirds” trending nationally on twitter in Australia.
More and more, this ultimately is disproving the old myth that women’s team sports is inferior and less interesting than that of their male counterparts, as a result, proving that there does exist a significantly greater demand for greater media coverage of the women’s game. The illusion that there is no inherent interest in women’s sport is crumbling fast with questions of both the quality of play and the sport’s overall product are rapidly being answered.
In a way, the fact that many of these sportswomen have to balance their incredible on-field abilities with either full-time occupations or study shows that they are well-rounded, relatable individuals who must truly cherish the adoration and support they receive from the crowd.
What cannot be argued any longer, however, is that the quality of women’s sport still has some way to catch up to men. Yes, men will for the most part be taller, stronger and quicker than women in overall benchmarks, but if this were the only indicator and measurement for quality in all sport, there would never have been a market for women’s tennis, surfing or pretty much any Olympic event. Women’s sport may be physically different to that of the men’s, but it is essentially no less strategic or passionate.
Overall, playing and watching sport is meant for everyone. The joys and despairs felt watching our top sportsmen and women has been widespread, crossing the gender divide.
Now it’s time for the media to start putting the foundations in place for the eventual equality in news representation of women’s sport. It really is about time.