Catherine Spencer talks about women’s sport and inequality

Catherin Spencer, the former women’s Rugby team captain has published an article in The Guardian on the subject of the inequality between men’s and women’s sport in general, and in particular about the huge investment gap.

She said that if she had been given a pound for the times she had been asked about the hurdles women in sport face, she would be a rich lady. As it is, she mourned, her bank balance is only that of a retired England Rugby captain – and a women’s rugby captain at that.

Women rugby players had to play for the love of the game

When Spencer held the captaincy, from 2007 to 2011, the players were expected to play for the love of the game. Her team included doctors, teachers, policewomen and veterinary surgeons who spent all of their free time training and playing without any financial reward – unlike today’s lady players who at least are given match fees on a match-by-match basis.

The ex-women’s captain mentioned browsing the BBC Sport website homepage recently. She searched out the women who were featured and came across Serena Williams, and the silver medallists from the British Winter Paralympian team, Jen Kehoe and Menna Fitzpatrick. These three sportswomen were amongst 33 photos of male sports athletes, which highlights the problem nicely.

Lack of media coverage for women’s sports events

Women’s sport doesn’t get anywhere near the same amount of coverage in the media that men’s sport does. The same problem occurs with sponsorships too. It creates a never-ending circle. To attract sponsorships, the sponsors want to know those they sponsor will get plenty of TV publicity. However, the TV companies don’t show much women’s sport because they maintain it doesn’t attract the same size of audience that men’s sporting events do.

Breaking the circle

Of course, from the audience’s side of the coin, they say that they can’t watch women’s sport because it isn’t broadcast enough. And so it goes – round and round in perpetuity. The chain somehow needs to be broken, but how?

Anything is possible given enough application. As Catherine herself reminded us, she captained her team in winning four Six Nations championships, plus getting to the World Cup final, all the while holding down a full-time job.

To break the underinvestment circle, all that is needed is the courage and some dedication. The recent spectacle in women’s international rugby was when France beat England. Not only was the game was seen by over 17,000 spectators (the most ever to witness a women’s test match) but more people than ever also got involved with placing bets on the outcome.

That same day 5,000 spectators watched Twickenham beat Richmond at the Harlequins’ ground. A British record.

Getting the message across

Catherine Spencer is determined to further the cause of equality for women’s sport, even though she has retired from international rugby. She is writing her own book, rather aptly titled, “Mud, Maul, Mascara.” She has also started her own agency and is getting in there amongst the almost men-only-world of after-dinner speaking.

She is doing her bit in an effort to show that women’s sport should be taken seriously and that it has much to offer; a sentiment more and more people are beginning to agree with.

Looking for a film with a happy ending? Go with sport!

One of the main factors that attract so many of us to sports films is that they usually have a happy ending.

While the sporting action itself can often be hit-and-miss, more often than not, the good guy succeeds and the right team lift the trophy.

From the classic sporting pictures such as Chariots of Fire to the more modern efforts like Draft Day, we’re taken on a journey that usually sees the star overcome some type of turmoil on the way to a triumphant victory.

The actors playing the roles might not always get it spot on in terms of replicating those sporting superstars they are portraying, but these films are about so much more than picking apart Adam Sandler’s back-swing or Matt Damon’s mauling technique.

Let’s have a look at some classic sports films in which the recurring theme of success appears.

Rocky: When it comes to sporting movies, you have to really begin with Rocky. Starting from humble beginnings on the mean streets of Philadelphia, our hero goes on a brutal journey to the heavyweight championship of the world. The series even recently spawned a seventh film in Creed. Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky Balboa not only made him a household name, it also played a huge part in boxing’s huge popularity throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. With Creed making waves with both the box office and the critics, we might not have seen the end of Rocky Balboa’s iconic cinematic career.

Rocky statue // Philadelphia” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by achimh

Moneyball: Covering the Oakland Athletics’ trials, tribulations and then success in the 2002 MLB season, Moneyball is another film that combines the drama involved in sport both on and off the field of play. Telling the story of general manager Billy Beane’s bid to assemble a team capable of mixing it with the best, Moneyball profiles a 2002 season in which the Athletics lost a host of star names and built a team of lesser known players that led the team to the American League West title in one of the most iconic seasons in the club’s history. With Oakland’s glory days now nothing but a distant memory, and the franchise priced as long as 66/1 with the likes of the Bet365 betting odds as of the end of January, this is a perfect trip down memory lane for those beleaguered Athletics fans.

Happy Gilmore: Hey, come on now, this is a *great* movie. OK, it’s a decent movie with some very funny bits. Adam Sandler plays Happy Gilmore, who is a short-fused good guy with a remarkable talent that makes the move from the brutal arena of ice hockey into the traditional and stuffy world of golf. Needing to raise money in order to save his Grandma’s home, our maverick hero wins the Tour Championship in frankly unbelievable scenes. He walks away with the title, the girl and the money. The legitimacy of Happy’s speedy journey from novice to champion might have more holes in it than the course at Augusta, but it doesn’t stop this from being a very enjoyable way to spend 92 minutes.



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