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Dark Day for Women’s Sport – Why You Should Care

The Abbott Government's cuts to the ABC will see the WNBL cut from Australian televisions for the first time since 1981, meaning the competition would fail to attract world class players like Penny Taylor (pictured)

The Abbott Government’s cuts to the ABC will see the WNBL scrapped from Australian televisions for the first time since 1981, meaning the competition would fail to attract world class players including many from the WNBA

“I’d never watch women’s sport on television,”

If you’ve said that, heard that or thought that, well buddy…this isn’t about you.

Women’s sports have been shoved, beaten and bruised by the recent announcement that the ABC cuts will spell the end of WNBL women’s basketball and W-League Women’s Football matches being shown live on television. The ABC has broadcast the WNBL since its inception in 1981 and the W-League since 2008.

The national broadcaster will be shutting down the production of all live sport on its channels. In doing so it’ll see women’s sports take a massive step backwards, reducing access and publicity for the sports to levels not seen since the 1970s.

It’ll see women’s sports take a massive step backwards, reducing access and publicity for the sports to levels not seen since the 1970s.

All the inroads made over the past three decades to lift the profile of female athletes and women’s sports will suddenly disappear faster than Tony Abbott can cry “broken promise”.

The setback to the women’s game isn’t confined to just the broadcast of their matches. Along with the pictures on the box, sponsorships and fans will also disappear. Without the fans and sponsorship interest, athletes will struggle to earn what little pocket money they do to play the game they love. Without the dollars, the game won’t be able to attract the world-class players to the competition. Without access to athletes, role models for our young girls disappear and the game fails to grow.

Which takes me to my initial point. This isn’t about the average sports fan, this isn’t about the politicians in their fine suits and budgets to slash. This is about the next generation, the bigger picture if you like.

This is about the little girl at home who loves her basketball or soccer…the little girl who loves her sport. Her passion for the game pounds through her veins as strongly as any little boy. This girl dreams of hearing that sweet swoosh of a clean three pointer, the exhilaration of the round ball hitting the back of the net, of playing in front of roaring crowds, in packed stadiums, of wearing that green and gold of her country. But she needs to know that it’s possible, she needs to know that, like the little boys idolising Tim Cahill and Patty Mills there’s a Claire Polkinghorne and Lauren Jackson for her to idolise too.

When she hits her teens and suddenly peer pressure says sports aren’t so cool, she can see and hear from those idols and know that’s not the case. Sport must be seen not just as a hobby, a ritual for a Saturday morning, but as a way of life, a passion – not just something for the boys.

But she needs that access, that exposure. She needs to sit down with her teammates in the lounge room of her home and together watch the game on television and know it’s a sport for her too.

The gap between men’s sports and women’s sports had been shrinking, not a lot, not by any means quickly, but now it will only widen by the day if a solution cannot be found.

Where was David Gallop? Where was Anthony Moore? Do they even care?

It’s in the sports organisations best interests to solve this problem and fast. There was barely an angry word delivered by either the FFA or Basketball Australia. They should have been outraged, the CEOs should have been holding press conferences expressing that anger, calling for this to be reconsidered, telling Tony Abbott and the Government the impact this will have on women’s sports, on the younger generations growing up without that access to their idols.

But where were they? Where was David Gallop? Where was Anthony Moore? Do they even care?

In their absence, Sportette is doing just that.

Like it or not, women make up 50% of this population. They grow up with the sport and relate to the sport from an early age, they’re likely to stay engaged with the sport for their entire lives. For you, the silent David Gallop, and you, the weakened Anthony Moore that means they’re likely to buy memberships to your clubs, purchase your merchandise, go to your games and when they have kids, they’re almost certain to pass that passion onto a new generation.

What does that do? It grows your game, it fills your sport with more money.

You need women to do that…you need your women’s sports back on free to air television.

 

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