A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWNThere are few things more patronising than a male talking about women’s sport. I know this. And I know I’m on a hiding to nothing here with certain types, desperately poised with 140 characters of venom to throw at anyone who misspeaks or doesn’t 100 per cent fall in line with the way they think. But I’m diving in anyway, like a drunk Eric the Eel, to give my two cents on the latest thing to sweep over our nation. I assure you, by the end of it you’ll see the only thing I intend to patronise is a Swifts game.
The notion of women’s sport is nothing new, of course. It’s just that it’s been thrust more and more into the national consciousness the past couple of years, hitting peak levels with the introduction of the AFL Women’s competition.
Previously, the only female athletes who were household names (and didn’t have modelling contracts) thrived in individual sports: swimming, tennis, golf. There was the odd netballer, sure, but they had to be world-beaters. Now names like Erin Phillips and Mo Hope (a great name [and player]) have filtered into our lounge rooms and many men are actually talking about how good they are at footy, not how good they look.
This is a key point, and the one most likely to provoke fury in the aforementioned Twitterati. I get why they’re angry, but anger doesn’t help. Most men are simple folk, myself included. We see a pair of breasts bouncing and all else is forgotten. Our values, sense of decency and ability to think rationally become clouded by an instinctive, primal and indeed lecherous need to perv. But we’re learning. Slowly. Evolving, even. It’s about time, I know.
It’s about time the Australian sporting landscape had a shake up, too. Despite the emergence of the A-League, the past few years have had the stench of an old pond, stagnating while the same old mosquitos buzzed around it. Women’s sport brings excitement back, and an enthusiasm that has been severely lacking of late.
These female footballers aren’t just playing for the pay-cheque, which was exemplified by the Women’s AFL players’ need to have a ‘Silly Sunday’ rather than ‘Mad Monday’, because the majority of them work weekdays. They’ve been playing for the love of the game for so long, it will be nice when they finally start seeing more financial rewards.
That will take time, however. The concept of equality is not a complicated thing, but equality in pay cheques is. It’s all well and good being idealistic, but the reality is that all our wages are directly related to how much money we are bringing in for our employers. Thus, if you really want to see change in that regard, stop complaining and start going to some games. Watch it when it’s on the television. Have a barbecue with friends when the netball grand final is on. For better or worse, money makes the world go around. If you really want equality, you better start patronising.