Depending on where you get your news from we have been led to believe this week that our hopes for a legacy following Glasgow 2014 have not been achieved. In fact the research seemed to suggest that to date there has been no visible increase in sport participation following the success of Glasgow 2014. If true, with over a year since Glasgow delivered the most successful games these figures are at the least disappointing, if not extremely worrying.
However first of all let’s look at the definition of Legacy – there are two definitions to the word Legacy, the first is ‘money or property that you receive from someone after they die‘, and the second is ‘something that is a part of your history or that remains from an earlier time’
In my opinion that is exactly what has happened – the economy in Scotland received a major boost with tourists flocking not only to Glasgow but many other parts of our beautiful country. This we hope is not a ‘one-off’ but the start of a love-affair that will see them return subsequent years. We can also count the many improvements and additions to our sporting infrastructure and through the creation of the Sports Village we now have affordable housing opportunities that sit proudly in the East End, regeneration the area and changing people lives.
As for the second part of the definition there is no doubt that we achieved that – sporting history will show a city that opened it arms and heart to welcome the world and its neighbours to our party and for that alone we will go down in the history books.
So then what is the problem? Participation or lack of increased participation, that seems to be the issue, even although many sports including Netball, Judo and Athletics have shown increased numbers.
The one area however, that gives me continued concern, is the lack of profile for our women in sport. Let me let me take you back to last year. We read on a regular basis about Eilidh Childs, Lynsey Sharp, Kimberley and Louise Renicks, Hannah Miley etc to name a few. However it is fair to say that they are no longer household names, the have been relegated with style from the pages of most of our newspapers.
When is the last time –apart from your regular Saturday read in The National – that you were aware of coverage of women in sport in our newspapers? Perhaps if you look long and hard you will find something, a column or two, but coverage, that is not a word we could use to describe the lack of interest in terms of our broadsheets and tabloids.
Jane Dehenny from the Gender Hub carried out research on this topic, post London 2012 Olympics and her findings gave us plenty to think about.
The report ‘The Circus Came to town’ informs us in their opinion, that the monitoring of sports coverage in newspapers by gender is especially interesting when a global event such as the Olympics takes place. It tells that evidence over the past thirty years shows that during major sporting events media coverage of women’s sports increases, yet outside such events coverage remains stuck at less than 10%. It goes on to say what is immediately identifiable is how men’s sport (non-Olympic) remains dominant throughout the period despite a spike in women’s sports coverage. So basically newspapers make room to report on women’s sports during a global event capitalising on the interest the public is showing and then assume that the interest dies when the event is over! They also ensure that they don’t lose focus on men’s sport during this period, (I should say this is normally football), knowing that when the event is over, they can revert back to type! All this even although, as the report clearly shows there is an increase in the sales of newspapers – can this increase just be a coincidence or is it that the public would like to read about our female athletes?! This Gender Hub report goes further in depth on subject and you can read it here at http://www.genderhub.com.
So I go back to the age old problem. How can we encourage young girls to get fit and healthy using sport as the medium when there is very little visible evidence that women participate in sport in our daily newspapers? We now have to look to the future and identify the different options available to us. Twitter, Facebook, live-streaming, blogging, mostly all of these social media platforms are free to use and give our athletes the opportunity to express themselves and showcase their talents and as well as giving young aspiring athletes an insight into the high and lows of the person behind the sport. Using these the platforms on a regular basis we know will engage with the young sporting public and it will create a normality around women in sport. Hopefully then it will become second nature to young women and girls to use sport to benefit of all areas of their life.
This article is written by Maureen McGonigle, CEO at Scottish Women in Sport and was first published in The National, Scotland’s newest daily newspaper. Our thanks to them for permission to share @the3rdimagazine.
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