At the top left of my blog, I'm providing links to all the articles that have appeared in its 12-page sports supplement so far this year. It's not particularly impressive. If it wasn't for Dokic and the Williams sisters, there'd only be two articles. One focuses on the UK's best hope for success in the Melbourne tennis tournament and the final one - on women's football (soccer) - actually reports on the career progress of a male coach. Not a word on the actual success or not of any women in football.
This bothers me for a number of reasons - in no particular order...
- why does male football have to account for such a large proportion of print sports coverage - guys tell me they would like to read more about golf, boxing, kayaking, windsurfing, squash and so on. There's a lot of diversity in sport and that's not reflected in the mainstream daily press.
- why do women in sport barely get a look in? The Olympics showed evidence of women's success in sport and many women bloggers confirmed in a number of different posts and comments how inspiring this was to see.
- if so much money can be generated by male sport - in particular UK soccer - why isn't this commercial success being exploited in female sport?
There are plenty of women involved in team sports like hockey, netball, rugby and football - I'm sure there'd be even more of them if this activity wasn't practically invisible to anyone who relied on the sports section of newspapers for coverage of women in sport.
Another dimension to women in sport, is that it can be political. In Iran, football for men and women is extremely popular. A leading team - Esteghlal - is now in trouble because during a training overlap, its male and female teams were on the same pitch for ten minutes. The football academy director may be sacked for this and who knows, maybe even the players themselves may suffer repercussions.
Sport is one of a limited number of ways women in Iran can express themselves through physical movement. These women - and indeed the men who coach, manage and finance the teams put themselves at risk of prosecution and harrassment for falling foul of the state's strict interpretation of Islamic behaviour.
Their determination to play, despite the difficulties, has helped me decide to create a new blog. I'll use it to highlight women's achievements in sports. It's going to take a little while for me to find my sources, but please send me your thoughts, any useful links and even content - I think this could be a good blog for additional contributors. While I might focus on UK sport, I'm interested in including international stories too.