This week sport saw history made. As an individual studying PE as a GCSE subject, this moment struck a chord, even though tennis is not a personal interest. It was a time that struck the hearts of many in the nation, indeed the world.
Emma Raducanu. A miraculous young woman made history this week by winning the US Open Women’s Singles final at just 18 years of age. She was the first British woman to have made it to a major singles final in tennis, in 44 years! Isn’t that just brilliant?
Raducanu’s win started me thinking about a deeper topic within sport. As we know, in the sports industry, only very popular sporting events are broadcasted onto TV. Only the most popular athletes will be talked about, watched, loved, idolised, sponsored by society. So, bearing this in mind, have you ever watched the women’s football Euros? Did you watch it this year? Or, were you too invested in the penalty that Saka missed in the final against Italy? It’s fine if you were too invested in the men’s football that night, because I’m sure we all were, as a very patriotic and proud country. However, as that proud country we should be trying to support all athletes who are playing and competing for our country, instead of just the ones that are championed before us.
Emma’s win spiked a very emotional side of me, as for the first time in years I have seen a British FEMALE be so endorsed and take the media.
There are many incredible female sportswomen, but they are so underpaid, underpromoted and often lacking sponsorship, that we aren’t aware they exist. There has always (for decades now), been a gender pay gap in sports. Steph Houghton (an English female footballer), is paid more than £235,000 less than her male colleagues on the England football team, and that isn’t even covering the likes of Jack Grealish and Harry Kane (who are paid in the high millions).
Not only are female athletes paid less than men, broadcasted less, but they are also still seen as objects to be sexualised in the media. If we take the sportswear in particular in many female sports, it is typically ‘skimpy’ or is stereotypically ‘feminine’. This wouldn’t be a disadvantage if our bodies weren’t seen as something to be commented on, or we weren’t seen as the ‘weaker’ gender in sports for men to consistently oppress. If you search women in sport on google, there will most likely be an article covering how ‘beautiful’ and ‘lean’ the athlete is, and commenting on her dietary habits, skin, waist size, hair etc. In comparison male articles cover how ‘strong’ they are or their sporting achievement.
Our society appears so misogynistic at times, and we are easily drawn into it, so don’t realise we are part of the ignorant problem. Emma Radacanu broke the patriarchy this week; she broke those stereotypes in sport. An 18 year old British woman, a strong, capable, talented player was watched by many young girls this week and who actually believed that they were capable of achieving just as highly, in life. In interviews she spoke so eloquently, and so flawlessly, with such poise and grace in every word she said. She showed her academia and knowledge throughout her interviews, proving once again the high levels women can achieve when they are encouraged, and when they have such brilliant determination as she herself does. I have undertaken research this week on the history of sports, reading countless horrific statements about how ‘unesthetic’ women’s sports are, how ‘only pretty women play sports’ etc.
I hope that the future of female sports is bright, I hope that Emma Radacanu, and the many other incredible sportswomen encourage other women to fight for their talent, and rightful place, always. There is too little fighting to break stereotypes in sport. I hope that all sportswomen, coaches etc get the advocacy, the marketing and most importantly, recognition they deserve.
Once again, Emma you have made so many young girls scream with joy this last week, whether they showed or not, there are sparks of determination developing in their souls.
Keep fighting for female sports.
Article by Young Reporter Grace Trippett.
First appeared in Grimsby Telegraph 21st September 2021