I'm not at all sure where the allegation that team sports were invented as some way of subjugating women!
That's not the allegation I made. My rather condensed point was simply that the rules and regulations of most spectator sports we follow today were drawn up in a particular historical environment. The 'inventors' of these rules — though not necessarily of the sports themselves — were often products of English boys-only public schools. Once the new rules were in place, team sports — from which the proles had previously been discouraged for fear that they would lead to brawling and rioting — suddenly became a source of order, a diversion from politics, and a means to get exuberant young men with leisure time on their hands to learn discipline, teamwork and respect for rules. This was an explicitly masculine project, and it both depended on and reinforced 19th-century gender roles: sporting men were active, united, competitive and in the public sphere. This in turn fed the cult of bigger-faster-stronger, the virile values associated with empire, the military, capitalism, and other victorian symbols of power and prosperity. Women were excluded from all of these for the same reason: it was supposed that men could do them better.
Although sports have been patriarchal since the Greeks, it's possible to imagine that if they'd been regulated at a different moment in history, they might have reflected different values. For instance, in some pre-industrial village running races, the contestants were each given a different handicap (for example, carrying different weights). The spectators' interest was not in cheering for the übermensch
, but in making the outcome less predictable so that betting would be more fun and more profitable.
And your US sports analogy doesn't really wash either. College and High School sport is popular despite the lower level of quality on show not because that's all some towns and cities have.
That explains some of it. But not the big tv audiences. Not the fact that NFL games cannot be played on Fridays and Saturdays because those days are reserved for college football. And not the the University of Southern California football team's ability to draw crowds of 90,000, while Los Angeles is unable to sustain a profitable NFL franchise.
But although i do agree that the male oriented reporting of female sport tends to disparage the sport itself on the grounds of looks, and that is something that possibly the London Olympics will help to address (And you can't blame the likes of Jessica Ennis for cashing in on being both talented and attractive), you are never going to get the same coverage of major sports, just because the media is so tied up with the Premier League.
Indeed. I don't expect that. However, I do think, for instance, the opening and closing matches of Wimbledon should alternate between the men's and women's singles. I do think Arsenal could do a better job of encouraging fans to watch their women's team (which is one of the best in Europe), especially by engaging local schools and grassroots football teams. (And why doesn't Man Utd have a women's team? They could surely afford one.) And I do think women's sport could have more visibility in the media, and be covered in less reductive ways, if there were more women on the sports desk, for example. And if Dacre weren't such a cunt.
I don't blame Jessica Ennis for doing publicity, quite the contrary. I won't criticise the beach volleyball players either. The obstacle is the media. The Mail is among the worst, of course. Its narratives for stories about women are so reductive and inelastic that there simply isn't anything it could write about female athletes that wouldn't be T&A, hair and makeup, or gosh-but-she's-a-woman!
Which is pretty pathetic for 2012. Like you, I hope the Olympics will help provide a counter-weight.
Outside of the Macclesfield Express, we get probably less coverage than some of the top women's clubs. Despite bein better supported.
That qualifying clause is important. The teams in the women's premier league in England don't get much coverage in the local press either, and the women's media aren't interested. Britain is behind in this. Lyon drew more than 20,000 spectators to their game against Arsenal last season, and league matches in Germany, Scandinavia and Russia pull in similar crowds to Macclesfield.
Sorry for your team's relegation, by the way. My stepfather sort-of-supports Barnet, so he is happy. Well, more like relieved!
The FA ban was insanity, clearly, but have other sports had the same treatment? Women's rugby isn't as popular, for example.
I don't know — when did the MCC admit women? There are still golf clubs and bowls clubs that only allow women to play at certain times of day, and not long ago they were probably restricted to making sandwiches. I can remember when women's track and field didn't include the 400 metres hurdles or any race longer than 1500 metres, and even at the last winter Olympics there was a men's but no women's ski-jumping event — in spite of the fact that the world record holder for the event was a woman. How many women are there on the International Olympic Committee, I wonder? On the board of FIFA or the Lawn Tennis Association? There's progress, but it's slow.
I'm posting on my phone (whilst waiting for my little girl to get off to sleep.. 15 months and loves kicking a ball around. She'll play for England!)
Let's hope so!