Viewing this website on a mobile device: Click here to view our mobile site Women in Sport International Mobile

Thursday, 27 December 2012

More Female Visibility After the Success of London 2012?

By Jo Jo Rennie

I remember when I was about 15 and my teacher played a game with us in a PE (Physical Education) class at school. He told us to take it in turns to each name a famous athlete, and to continue around the class until someone hesitated or drew a blank. If we couldn't think of one we were out of the game; eventually leaving one member of the (relatively small) class as the winner. The first round started as the teacher told us to name a famous male athlete. This wasn't confined to “athletes” in respect to track and field athletics, but in regards to any sportsman; regardless of race, nationality, popularity or sport. I think the only condition was that they were to be current sportsmen. Needless to say this round lasted a while; barely any thinking time needed. Once I had my favourite football [soccer] team in mind I was good to go for the next 11 rounds- at least! The teacher stopped the game before anyone even hesitated.

The next round required us to name famous female athletes. Suddenly, we needed our little grey matter to work overtime; from having 25+ footballers to name at a drop of a hat, I remember finding myself struggling to even think of any sports in which women participated! In the UK, tennis is by far the most prolific sport for women, in regards to mass media coverage. I knew a few track athletes as well, and, at the time, about 3 female footballers. I remember doing well in this round. I think an acute combination of the wider knowledge of certain sports and perhaps the simple ability to think quicker than a few of my classmates gave me the critical edge.

In the final round the teacher asked us to name disabled athletes. The class was silent, until it got to me. This was my crowning moment. “Tammy Grey-Thompson” I proudly said, to the shock of my classmates. Suffice to say I won that round. My teacher must have been shocked as well, as he never informed me that I obviously meant Tanni Grey-Thompson. It felt like a hollow win. But a win, nonetheless.

With all my ramblings, I do have a point. I'm 24 now, and I still remember playing this game. It was so simple, yet so effective. Aimed at teenagers, it perfectly demonstrated the effect the mass media has; the gulf in our collective knowledge between all three “categories” was astounding. This wasn't a compulsory PE class; we had chosen to take this option. Pupils in the class were not only in various school sports teams, but were actively interested in the physical and theoretical side of sport and sports media. Yet collectively, we could name, I think, less than 15 female athletes without hesitating and only 1 disabled athlete, male or female. (And even then I didn't really know her full name!).

Unfortunately, almost a decade on, it seems like not a lot's changed. We are promised so much after major sporting events and it feels like not a lot happens, in terms of positive, neutral, media coverage. Of course it takes time. And, of course, it's fantastic to have prolific UK female sporting athletes in the papers more, such as Jessica Ennis and Victoria Pendleton. But, I can read mundane stories about footballer's tweets and their children every other day, yet female sports stars are sidelined repeatedly. The two highest selling newspapers in the UK (The Sun and The Daily Mail respectively) do not have any female sporting section. Women's sport is rarely ever mentioned- even news of success for the home nation. When it is, popular articles are often those where women are the subject of the male gaze, or they are simply one of  numerous articles questioning the position of females in sport – such as this. But rarely ever are there just articles reporting on performances in games. In fact it is difficult to find any news on any female sport besides tennis, without actively searching.

The exclusion of any women from last years Sport's Personality of the Year shortlist was overshadowed this year as the list was awash with Olympic talent. Our nation was still beaming with pride and satisfaction at the awards ceremony in mid December; ensuring the Games volunteers were handed almost as much praise as gold winning athletes in a very British form of self adulation. The Queen gave her Christmas speech, taking time to applaud London's hosting of the 2012 Games; a fantastic occasion which was dubbed by many as “the Women's Games”. Personally, I feel that the greatest victory at London 2012 was the inclusion of women in every participating nation's squad for the first time ever. It's been a long time coming, but this is incredible- and a potentially inspiring message for female athletes the world over. Hopefully, female athletes begin to receive greater visibility in 2013 and beyond.

 And in another 10 years time I may be able to name a few more disabled athletes.


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Love this video: Female Football Player Schools the Boys

For the 1% of you who have not seen this, it is amazing. It is great to see a young lady get such attention as an athlete for all of the right reasons.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Top Junior Women's Tennis Player Benched for being Too Fat - Seriously?

The above headline is not a joke.  The USTA doesn't want 16-year-old prodigy Taylor Townsend, the top ranked junior player,  playing tennis until she's dropped some weight. Read the full story here:

An excerpt from the story states:

16-year-old Taylor Townsend is currently the number one junior tennis player in the world, bringing hope to the increasingly troubled state of American tennis. Considered a prodigy, Townsend is one of 25 junior players currently being trained at the brand-new full-time academy in Boca Raton, FL, which is funded by the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Logically, this would seem to make her a major asset for the sport. However, Townsend has been benched by the USTA until further notice. The reason? Evidently, Townsend is just too darn fat.
Thursday, she won two matches at the U.S. Open's junior tournament, the last a dominating two-set victory over Mexico's Marcela Zacarias in which she pumped her fist after winners and jogged to her chair for every changeover.
But unbeknownst to everyone outside her inner circle, the USTA wasn't happy to see Townsend in New York. Her coaches declined to pay her travel expenses to attend the Open and told her this summer that they wouldn't finance any tournament appearances until she makes sufficient progress in one area: slimming down and getting into better shape.
Townsend’s mother wound up funding her trip to the U.S. Open (UPDATE: the USTA has since offered to reimburse her), as the best hopes the presently agent-less Townsend has of landing sponsorships to help support her training are if she is seen winning in high-profile events. Had the USTA not asked Townsend to withdraw from an earlier qualifying event, she might have had the opportunity to be entered into the main draw at the U.S. Open in a wild-card slot, which would have improved her chances dramatically.
Again, I highly encourage everyone to read a full account of the story here:

I do not even know where to begin with this one, other then to say it is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard.  Two former tennis champions, Lindsay Davenport and Martina Navratilova, have already spoken out in opposition to the USTA decision. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

“Remember me, who am Pia …” [Dante, Purgatorio]

“Remember me, who am Pia …” [Dante, Purgatorio]
By Felicity Hawksley, Twitter: @thesportscarton, Personal Blog:

This isn't an article about the departing Pia Sundhage – that's for someone else to write, maybe a little bit later.  It takes some distance to comprehend the Dylanesque strangeness of the quiet, sometime singing Swede.  She'll be missed.

But the fact that Sundhage is off, begs not only questions of who'll replace her, but also what they'll choose to do with a side that's in transition.  In many ways, this piece is a pointless exercise in musing.  Every manager brings their own ideas to a side; gets on with the players they get on with and has a singular vision for style and player pool precedents. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The New Knockout - Redefining Beauty with Boxing Covergirls

Though Canada's Mary Spencer didn’t win an Olympic medal at these past Games, she can be seen as a true ambassador and role model for female athletes everywhere. As Covergirls, Mary and the United States’ Marlen Esparza, another female boxer, demonstrated that there is more to beauty than the stereotypical Hollywood imagery of a skinny model. There is beauty in strength.

Friday, 17 August 2012

"Kings" Video A Hit With Olympic Athletes

 We just received this press release about the You Tube video labelled "Kings". It is incredibly inspiring. My only complaint, of course, is that it should be labelled "Kings and Queens" but I digress. It is nice to see that both male and female athletes are included and the video is very well done. Enjoy!


August 15, 2012 – Los Angeles, CA – Chicago’s emerging electronic group Tall Animals are generating monumental buzz with their new Olympic inspired video for their song, “KINGS.”  The video has been shared by over 65 current and past Olympic athletes over the course of the Olympics, inspiring athletes along the way to viral gold.

Watch Tall Animals’ Olympic inspired video for “KINGS”:

Rowdy Gaines (3 time Olympic Gold Medalist/ NBC Commentator): "Love This! Thank for sharing!"

Christian Taylor (2012 Gold Medalist): "thats awesome! got me pumped!"

Lindsey Vonn (Olympic Gold Medalist): "Love it! Cant wait 4 London games to start!"

Brigetta Barrett (2012 Silver Medalist): "thank you sooo much for that vid its exactly what I needed!!! That was AWESOME!! Everyone should watch it!!!"

Brian Boitano (Olympic Legend): "Great song guys!"

The video for “KINGS” blends a montage of breathtaking shots of Olympic athletes in moments of glory and hardship as they fight their way to victory with uplifting pop-infused rhythm and lyrics that inspire to achieve greatness.

"We didn't set out to write a song for the Olympics,” says Tall Animals’ Augie Schmidt.  “We just wanted to write a song that had a Big Anthem Chorus, and captured the feeling and excitement of a Packed Stadium.  After we wrote “KINGS,” our singer Dan Monahan, had the idea of syncing the song up with some Olympic footage he found on Youtube.  Watching video of athletes pared with the song was so inspirational, and moving, we knew we had to make a video like that... It really helped capture the feeling and emotion we wanted to express with the song."

Songwriter/Producer combo Dan Monahan and Augie Schmidt are no strangers to successful songwriting.  The duo have written songs for the Platinum selling band The Plain White Ts and Breathe Carolina and are credited on music for Flatfoot 65 as well as Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland soundtrack.  The guys teamed up with DJ/Producer Matt Richert to round out the trio of Tall Animals.  The guys combine bright, pop, soulful vocals with synths and strings creating a unique sound that’s totally their own. 

Tall Animals are currently working on their debut EP, which will be released later this year.

Help spread their inspiring new video for “KINGS” and tay tuned to for more information on future releases.

For More Information:
Press Contact:
Austin Griswold
Secret Service Publicity