Sports Personality of the Year, women, and why it matters.

Tuesday 29 November 2011
Haven't we been here before?
Sports Personality of the Year, women, and why it matters.


Ah yes, that was last year when we tackled the BBC about its disgraceful, patronising representation - and lack of representation - of women's sport. This, for the showcase of British sport, which celebrates and awards the achievements of our treasured and heroic sports people.

So yesterday I was glued to The One Show (a first) awaiting the nominations this year with baited breath. We got to the end and I thought, ‘Ah no, hang on. Something must be wrong here or I'm confused. Maybe this is the semi-final or something.’ Because lo and behold there aren't any women on the list. Not one. Not even a token woman. Or a small one. Not one.

So there was a bit of an embarrassing pause, then Alex Jones said: ‘Hmmm there aren't any women on there are there Gary?’ At which point even Gary Lineker looked a bit embarrassed and muttered something about how next year we have the Olympics so maybe Jessica Ennis will be in it again.

Well, I'm afraid that's just not good enough BBC. And here's why:

  • By including not one single woman on the list you imply that there is not one single woman who has worked as hard, achieved as much, or succeeded to the same extent as the men.
  • By omitting women from the list you blatantly ignore women, women's sport and the contribution that women make to our sporting culture and heritage.
  • You fail to represent over half of the population of the UK, many of whom take part in sport, watch sport and love sport.
  • You fail to showcase the wealth of talent we have in this country and lose the chance to show children and young people that there are women out there who are fantastic, real role models.

The reason I feel so strongly about this is that when I sit down to watch the show I want to be able to talk to my daughters about the women they see on their screens. I want to encourage them to work hard like these women do and to take part in, and enjoy sport. But once again, this year that's not going to happen.

Last year, we were treated to a 2 minute section - of the 2 hour show - dedicated to women's sport. Under the heading ‘The Golden Girls’, and of course ‘Girl Power’ (fat lot of good that did us), we saw a montage of film clips flash before our eyes and the voice-over saying something about how the men better watch out because the 'girls' are coming. What utter condescending rubbish. There's no way that women are ever going to enjoy the rewards of sporting achievement until we see them, hear them, watch them, support them and celebrate them on the same level that we do men. And if the BBC doesn't do this ... Then who will?

It's nothing short of tragic. Whilst no ‘women’s’ magazines were asked to contribute, Nuts and Zoo were, and nominated all men. Speaks volumes.

We're compiling our own list of sports women to prove that women deserve to be nominated as much as the men. We will be doing all we can to promote them in the run up to SPOTY and the BBC will be hearing from us.

Emma Moore

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"Girls are becoming increasingly disillusioned about the media's portrayal of women. Over half of those aged 11 to 21 disagree with the statement that 'girls and young women are portrayed fairly in the media'."

The Girls’ Attitudes Survey, Girlguiding UK, 2011