Equality in Sports

The recent World Cup in Russia did not only deliver unpredictable outcomes from the kick off of the first ball at the start of the tournament, but it’s also a perfect example showcasing the realities and bias that is shown with regards to support of male dominated sports compared to female sporting events. It is a known fact that female sporting events do not receive the same kind of attention and interest as their male counterparts in sport.

Another notable difference would be the difference in sponsorships and endorsements for women who are participating in sports across the globe, and these differences and disparities have been recorded. Most sportsmen are selected as brand ambassadors because of their commercial value and global celebrity status and appeal. These are probably some of the reasons why the majority of women do not continue or pursue their sporting careers because it might be perceived that they are not viable or life-style enabling.

Equality in sport is facing similar challenges as those which are prevalent in the corporate world. This is especially relevant when it comes to remuneration for females in positions of Leadership, which is widely reported. Women are paid less and are not able to achieve the same recognition as men generally experience.

The Huffington Post had an article as recent as 29 June 2018, with specific focus on how sports for boys are receiving more attention and investment compared to girls. In its title it makes reference, that apart from the fact that it is unlawful, it is also discriminatory. An example of this is providing a boys team with better equipment compared to girls playing similar or related sports.

A study by the UK Youth Sports Trust discovered the following in their recent research according to the paper:

· Girls aged 11 to 18 years old exercise less regularly and for less time than boys and feel less enthusiastic about sport. When asked specifically about their attitudes towards PE and school sport, less than half (45%) of girls said that it teaches them skills relevant to their day-to-day life in contrast to 60% of boys.

“It very much sends the right message that both boys and girls have the same entitlement of having the best possible chance to achieve in sport,” Campbell told The Guardian.

There are also the incidents where the young and vulnerable are being abused by those in leadership positions. The American Gymnastic Team Doctor whose involvement with USA Gymnastics started back in 1996. During this time, he was entrusted as a team doctor with easy access to these vulnerable young aspiring athletes. In the end 300 victims came forward to testify against him, to bring to an end his reign of terror for these affected victims.

The #metoo movement was established to encourage women and also men, who have experienced undesirable and questionable human rights abuses, by people in leadership, senior or guardianship positions.

The movement #wecanplay was also started to mobilise and change the way women are portrayed in sport.

4 out of 5 girls playing recreational football don't feel confident in doing so -81% of girls think football is suitable for boys. The figure drops to 56% who think it is suitable for girls. Some of the findings of #wecanplay in the UK

Alarmingly unlike tennis and netball, among girls surveyed, only just over half felt that football was a game for them. Even among young girls that do play football, four out of five of them don’t feel confident in doing so.

The attitudes of parents of girls from this age group are also telling. Mums and dads are far less likely to encourage daughters to play football than their sons – and significantly, they are also more likely to discourage daughters from playing than male children.

The Sports Trust Development Cycling Programme has a number of young females who are part of the programme. Some of them have been there for a number of years, but there are number of participants who left for various personal reasons. One of the main reasons is the risk of a young female cycling on the road alone that becomes the victim and target for criminals and other risks. The Trust encourages all cyclists to cycle in groups and to be vigilant whilst on the roads. The cyclists are also encouraged to compete in all the regional and national competitions to highlight all the available opportunities on offer. The female cyclists are encouraged to participate and make up 31% of the cyclists in this programme.

The areas which will contribute to addressing these inequalities are the following:

· More female sports role-models

· Enhanced sponsorship and investment in women sport and development

· Equal remuneration for sports participation

· A change in sentiment and attitude by the general public with regards to women in sport

· Career opportunities in sport to be better communicated

· Media to provide and afford female sports more airtime, space and coverage

· Renewed focus at local, provincial and national levels about the need to increase female participation in sport as a priority

Who will take the lead when it comes to drastic measures to address the inequalities in sport? Will it be a sporting federation, a government, sponsors or leading female sporting influencers?


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