LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD hot desk
EVEN THOUGH IT’S not a bad time to be a female athlete, women’s sport is still not taken as seriously as its male counterpart. Apparently, audiences aren’t interested in watching ‘the weaker sex’ playing sports that require the kind of physical power women aren’t believed to have. So there’s less sponsorship and media coverage of these games. But according to a Daily Maverick article by Antoinette Muller, the most watched event in South Africa during the 2012 Olympics was Banyana Banyana’s match against Sweden. If 2.7 million viewers tuned in, there must be more than some passing interest. Teams like SA Women’s Sevens have come a long way since corporate giants like Momentum invested in them but more support is needed. With team members able to spend time focusing on their sport careers, their performance improves and interest follows. Initiatives like gsport, launched in 2006 by former cricket broadcaster ass Naidoo, serve to ‘raise the pro le of South African women in sport signi cantly to encourage corporate South Africa to back female athletes’. Recently, when Olympic athlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner reintroduced herself to the world as a woman, one The Atlantic reader snarked, ‘Caitlyn Jenner has shown the world that women can compete at the very highest levels of sport and leave men in the dust.’ It might be funnier to make light of this than of the sadder case of our own Caster Semenya, who battles to get sponsorship after questions about her gender impacted her career. Let’s hope that no other athlete has to suffer the same fate.
IF 2.7 MILLION VIEWERS TUNED IN, THERE MUST BE MORE THAN SOME PASSING INTEREST