Not another feisty feminist-y thing, do I hear you sigh?
Well, no, it isn’t. Hold on a minute and all will become clear. Well, clearer. And, please, stick it out to the end, it’s really, really not all about men.
OK. To start with, here’s part of a definition from the Oxford Concise Dictionary.
“Amusement. Diversion. Fun.”
I can see where men with balls – and wheels – and legs – might fit into that definition. But mostly balls. Some round, some a bit pointy, some dimply, some fuzzy. Some white, some brown, some yellow, some red. Yes, they play with balls of many colours, men.
Now here’s part two of that same definition.
“Pastime. Game. Outdoor pastime.”
Do you see where this is going?
The big clue in the definition follows that last ‘pastime’:
“hunting, fishing, racing, cricket, football”.
Two of those activities involve balls.
But the others are also part of the definition of, ‘sport’.
I’ve had time on my hands these last few weeks, such that I have occasionally, in desperation, looked at the ‘Sport’ section of our newspaper.
I suspect they’re all pretty much of a muchness in what they cover, sports sections.
And I find it very helpful that it comes as a separate section – I can set it aside without bothering to look – unless I want to work out when’s a good time to go to the shops (answer: when one or all of Liverpool/Everton/Man Utd are playing).
One Sunday recently, though, I must have had a funny turn. Because I not only looked at it, I counted the number of pages devoted to ball sports in a 20 page section.
The answer was 19.
Of those 19 pages about one third of a page was devoted to a black, female footballer, the rest to male balls – footie, rugby and cricket. (Footie meaning British football, ie, real football).
The remaining page was mostly horse racing fixtures.
It bugged me. And that annoyed me.
Me – being bugged by the sports section?????
I know it’s a time of year when there’s not much in the way of tennis or athletics or what have you, but even so. It was spherically-fixated. And almost totally male.
This last week it’s been like a nail sticking through the heel of my shoe. Irritating and unwanted.
In an attempt to get the shoe off, metaphorically speaking, I’ve been flicking through the sporty bits on an ad hoc basis. When I remember. Or when I am very, very bored, to be honest.
I can now claim, in an utterly unscientific manner, that if you were an alien who could read English and wanted to work out what ‘sport’ was by using the newspaper it would be:
football, rugby, cricket, golf, horse-racing – with the occasional spot of cycling.
And almost exclusively done by men.
Last weekend there was a small item on the female Oxbridge boat race winners. But other than that and the female footie player, it’s been men, men, men all the way.
Now, that’s fine – have a stand-alone, male, ball-oriented section by all means.
But why call it ‘sports’?
Even men do other things with their spare time. One of my nephews, for example, is a bit of a hockey nut. Some men play badminton, squash, or darts. Water polo, bowls, or shove ha’penny. (Oh, pipe down! It could be a sport. Remember that definition? Pastime? I rest my case. And what a great way to pass time in a pub.).
Swimming is the biggest sport in terms of regular adult participation in the UK.
And what about fishing?
Women also play football. Three boys of my acquaintance who live in a house backing onto a local football pitch climb the tree in their garden to watch – who do you think? Not the local team, but Everton Ladies. The best football they’ve seen. Worth risking life and limb? Ah, the daredevil young!
Women also play netball and lacrosse, they swim, run, hurdle, throw javelins, play badminton and squash and bowls and cycle – they tango…
What I’m trying to say is, why not make the sports section a sports section? A great long section with all sorts of interesting pastimes and games – not all competitive in a cut-throat way.
Then footie fans (football is second to athletics in the participation league) would have to thumb through other things and maybe, just maybe, find they’re hooked on bowls or ferreting or hill walking. Or marbles.
I said maybe.
Advertising would pay for it – pet food and fishing rods and running shoes and tennis rackets and sports bras and cameras – and elastic bandages.
When the streets are thronging with many heads, bowed over many mobile phones, when couches are no longer groaning under just potatoes but also slobs and blobs, why not encourage more activity, more diversity, more sports?
More FUN! 🙂
This is funny! I was just saying to the husband the other day, “Now I get why you guys are glued to the ‘sports’ channel. It’s all about getting the balls into holes.” Sorry, Mary, that wasn’t in good taste but I couldn’t resist.
Ha ha! Nice one Audrey. We all need a bit of double entendre in our lives. And I still can’t really believe I actually wrote about sport!
It’s rare I open the Sports section of a newspaper although I have a vicarious interest in a couple of sports… NRL – rugby league ie, real football ;), tennis, motorcycle and some car racing… all viewed on the goggle box. If I wanted to experience sport live I quite like country horse races and trotting meets although the latter is now scarce as hens’ teeth.
Mainstream media, I think, picks up the money sports.
In the interests of research I ventured to browse through the 3 online regional newspapers I read which I suspected correctly would cover off a broader selection of local offerings: NRL -ie, real football, AFL – football from Victoria, rugby union, female netball, cricket, angling, horse racing, rowing, hockey, polocrosse, rodeo, swimming, dirt track motorcycle racing, mountain bike riding, horse trials, golf, athletics, lawn bowls, dressage, equestrian vaulting and horseball.
Interesting, there were no soccer or cricket articles and while the demographic was predominantly male there was some coverage of female participation and interest.
Sydney’s SMH newspaper Sport section is divided into Top Stories: female netball, Super League -Europe, soccer, AFL, NRL, Rugby; League (NRL -ie, real football; Rugby, Football -aka soccer; AFL; Horseracing; More Sport: cricket, cricket, cricket, athletics, tennis.
Analysing is it quite compelling…
Wow! I haven’t checked out the online sports but I will – I do doubt it will be anywhere near as interesting as Sydney SMH. Golly, what a range! I don’t think I have ever seen netball coered anywhere by any medium (and as I hated netball at school I’m not too upset) but I like tennis and it’s rarely covered beyond Wimbledon here unless someone is winning. I do think they are missing out on a major opportunity to make money from advertising targeted at people who would browse the print version of the section it if there were a bigger range of ‘sports’ in it and pastimes – angling here is really big for example and knitting – but hey, as you say, big money. And here that’s just – ahem – real football and to a much lesser extent rugby football 😉 OK, that’s it, devoted way too much energy to something that really doesn’t bother me that much when placed on a scale containing nuclear armageddon, ebola and malaria …
I detest football and would happily see it banned from all media!
I hate the fact that I can’t sit in my garden and enjoy a moments peace and quiet without the constant thud, thud of a flipping football against the neighbours house, car, garage door or our fence. Not helped by the fact the neighboruing houses all have block paved drives which amplify the noise and niusance to the point at which I go mad.
Then if I go inside to get some peace all I can see out of the lounge window is hordes of young lads booting footballs around the street and using the cars as goalposts.
Bare in mind that we live in an exclusive, generally wealthy, rural village where each house has a 1/4 acre or more garden and the village green is several acres in size so there is no ‘but they have nowhere else to play’ excuse for them. It is down to selfish/mindless parents who would rather their kids annoy everybody else rather than themselves and who allow their children to play a mind-less ball game rather than encourage them into something that can further their education. experience and skillset.
I’m all for kids being active but why do I have to suffer the nuisance of such an innappropriate sport being played on the streets? It gets far worse in summer with the lighter evenings to the point that we can’t wait for winter to arrive. It also gets far worse when major tournaments are on TV. It was absolute hell during the world cup, with the thud of footballs echoing around the village from dawn to dusk non stop.
Sorry for the rant,
Actually just to show how bad the situation has got with the wretched balls, my wife and I took our children to visit a stately home, farm museum and park last week. The sort of place that you go to educate your child, fill them with wonder at the architecture and history and to enjoy the wildlife. Sadly this was all ruined for us when some less than thoughtful parents had brought a bl**dy football with them so their kids could boot it around the walled courtyard while everybody else was trying to enjoy a quiet coffee/tea break.The same little oiks then ran around the park chasing and throwing stones at the ducks while their parents watched on smiling. I could have killed them!
I can’t think of a solution for this one – again, I know exactly what you mean – lovely day, peace and quiet and the lingering scent of history in the air – but the little angels and their parents are just out for a day’s play which could have been achieved somewhere more open and footie friendly. Ho hum. You don’t have the choice really (yet) but I do try to go places when schools are occupying most of the young people, one of the joys of working for myself! And as for chasing ducks – we watched in horror as two belligerent parents, laughing like drains, egged on their little horrors who were picking the flowers in one of our local parks. Nothing anyone could do.
You made me laugh out loud! Ha! I do understand – in our last house all the children in the road played football in the road – dodging cars, hitting vehicles with the ball – and then the 3 boys in the house behind oirs started using the back wall as a goal. We once had 17 balls in the gardne – they seemed ot have an unlimited suply. It was all part of a much bigger problem with those neighbours, who had replaced their lawn with astroturf ( I wrote about t a long itme ago) and even thinking about it gets me stressed! But I had begun to forget the misery of hearing that noise and knowing the football was out again. Poor you. But if you wait long enough they will grow out of it and then you’ll start hearing their music instead…
LOL, funny you should say that but in the last 3 months two of the neighbours with young boys have moved out. The new neighbours at the back just have a very young girl so no football there (yet) and the neighbours opposite have teenagers so again no football. Also no loud music yippee! however they have bought a house with a 3 car drive despite having 5 cars between them so we now have the problem of their cars forever blocking our drive DOH but that is a much more bearable issue 🙂
We can still hear the thud thud though as yet another neighbour, a bit further down the blocked paved road have a son who has just reached the age where he wants to be out playing football on the roadway.
If the media concentrated on a more diverse range of sports and gave far less attention to football we may have a chance of children wanting to play something else too? Currently far too much attention and too much money is spent on football players and they are not a very good influence on our children. We have made superstars out footballers and yet many other sports men and women are forgotten about. In fact is it really right that somebody who simply kicks a football about, is overpaid and crashes their Range Rover after a nights drinking has a higher status than scientist, doctors and engineers? I don’t think so. It is however down to the media to put less emphasis on the silly game and more on those more serving of it. It’ll never happen though?
Ooh we really do agree this time!!! I think it’s pretty hopeless at the moment when so much money is sloshing around in football – but if someone were to campaign a bit or make the media realise they cold make money out of covering other more amaeur sports and pastimes – I just can’t bring myself to do it as I find it really, really boring!! Perhaps with all that spare time you have on your hands … 😉