Enough about Mitchell Pearce and his antics, or how two rugby league players missed curfew on a pre-season camp, let’s dig deeper. What I propose is simple, important, yet often forgotten in the Australia sporting landscape. It’s time to talk sporting equality.
The Australian Open has come and gone for another year, but this time it left thoughts lingering in my mind about equality in the sports that we love.
Unfortunately, there really isn’t another example of it other than tennis.
What tennis does in regards to both sexes playing the big tournaments together is world class. Both forms of the sport are on television together for equal prize money.
Tennis shows it is possible to have both forms of a sport running side by side, and that there should be more of it. It expands fan-bases (for example mums and daughters may attend more A-League matches if women play before) and leads to increases in revenue. An increase in revenue improves the product and the cycle starts again.
Women’s sport is an untapped resource. The revenue gained from advertising and TV rights alone make investing in this commodity worthwhile.
The NRL are a step ahead, having played the women’s State of Origin before a Cowboys versus Sharks game in 2015. There was a decent crowd, and from all reports the spectacle was great. There will also be a women’s game played at the Auckland Nines, with the Australian Jillaroos taking on the Kiwi Ferns.
It’s a great way to grow the sport; it exposes more girls to the game and shows parents that it’s a safe sport to have their daughters playing. Either way congratulations to the NRL for heading in the right direction.
The A-League is where the most growth is, with the Women’s World Cup a revelation. The playing level and ability was phenomenal, and opens up a huge growth sector for the A-League.
Why not start playing all W-League games before their corresponding A-League fixture? Currently there are eight of the ten teams that correspond between the two competitions, which opens up the opportunity for the female game to explode into the market. Show it on Fox Sports like the NRL does the Under-20s, get more mums and daughters to the games, and off it goes. The FFA could really benefit from this in the long term.
Similar to the A-League, the NBL needs a strong curtain raiser to give fans bang for their buck, and the WNBL could be the answer. This could be a good selling point to not only daughters and mums but also to the TV companies and could increase advertising and revenue. I travel to Wollongong for the basketball and would happily arrive an hour or two earlier to watch the WNBL. Growth, again, could be huge.
In recent months we have seen the emergence of the Women’s Big Bash League shown live on Ten. Cricket is the leader in promoting the game at this level, and it’s a pleasure to see. The standard of play is extraordinary, with big hits, classic catches and close games for all to enjoy.
Congratulations Cricket Australia for your work, there should be more of it. The Women’s BBL will continue to grow and Cricket Australia are set to profit from their faith and commitment to this form of the game.
The discussion needs to happen more frequently and in more detail, but hopefully this gets everyone thinking about the topic.
We all love sport, if there is more of it out there, we’re all winners at the end of the day.