LEVEL THE PLAY­ING FIELD hot desk

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - FILTER - Colum­nist Zanele Ku­malo @mis­szan

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

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