Photo: Tretherras News

Inspired by a recent article by Kathryn Wicks, Deputy Sports Editor of SMH (published 23rd Feb), I decided to tweak her question to this… Do you want more coverage of netball and other women’s sports on TV?

Yes, I do!

TV coverage of women’s sport needs to improve dramatically – as a mass broadcast medium effective in driving mass awareness, TV is needed to provide a spectacle for audience’s to experience. From a netball perspective, who would argue against showing a game played between the greatest rivals in netball, the Silver Ferns and Aussie Diamonds? But in saying that, due to the lack of media coverage in general for women’s sport, only the dedicated fans would know exactly what I am talking about here. Sadly for the majority, they don’t know that they’re missing out on some highly competitive (seriously nail biting) historic games!

And it doesn’t just apply to international championships, the ANZ Championship deserves adequate media exposure as the players who are nominated as international representatives are done so based on their performance throughout these tournaments.

A TV network needs to commit to regular telecast of women’s sport so fans can include this in their viewing habits. For example, for any game that is played for the ANZ Championship or World Netball Championship (WNC) the question is always asked whether it will be televised and if so, will be live or delayed. Fans are forced to reach out to social platforms to ask when a game is being telecast or to read posts about a game taking place that isn’t being televised. You think this would be easier than ever with the introduction of free to air channels such as ONE HD. Being able to watch and read about sportswomen would work in tandem to help build a sense of community, which is evident on each ANZ Championship team’s Facebook or Twitter page. The lack of media attention for female sports evokes a sense of undesirability about the sport whether it be netball, hockey, gymnastics, equestrian and the list goes on. This isn’t a positive message to be sending out to young kids.

All sports require different skills/talents, there isn’t a sport hierarchy, meaning you can’t think of one sport being better than another. Pursuing what you are good at should be encouraged – don’t feel pressured to play a sport just because it appears more popular than the rest, kids need to be true to themselves and parents should support this.

As many are aware, the inequality between sportsmen and sportswomen extends to the level of pay each receive. Stories like that of Melissa Barbieri are too common for professional sportswomen. Women shouldn’t have to work several jobs to support themselves through their career if they don’t want to. At the same time, too much money is being paid to professional sportsmen. Being paid exuberant amounts can mean some lose focus of why they playing in the first place (e.g. the recent NBA standoff, that delayed the 2011-12 season because of pay disputes between players and the association). It becomes less about playing for love of the game and spirit of competition.

Ideally funds need to be distributed between male and female sport players evenly by the leagues so that sportspeople are being paid enough to support themselves and their family, so they can focus on developing their talent for their sporting career.

Another reason for why the media should publicise women’s sport is to give sportswomen like Sharelle McMahon adequate recognition for their achievements. Described by Norma Plummer as “probably the most athletic player of natural talent” to have played the game. Women like this are an inspiration, a positive influence on society.

Many sportswomen are great role models. Those like McMahon are not just admired for their talent, dedication to the sport and team but for their leadership and conduct on/off court. They maintain professionalism and respect for each other and others within society.

One other aspect that I admire within a netball game is the post game interviews with captains/co-captains of the winning and loosing netball teams. You will often hear a side give recognition to the team that played their best on the day, the other—gracious in accepting defeat—address what to work on for next time while thanking the support staff and fans. Women are grounded and disciplined in their approach to their sporting careers.

It is about time we gave sportswomen adequate recognition for their significant contributions to sport.