Women’s sport weekly wrap: Embrace your role model status

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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    What are your plans on Wednesday night?

    After the announcement earlier this week by Fox Sports that Wednesday night will now be home to League Life – a brand new show on Australia’s first dedicated rugby league channel with an all-female panel, I know exactly what I’ll be doing.

    The show will feature Yvonne Sampson, Lara Pitt, Jessica Yates, Tara Rushton, Megan Barnard and Hannah Hollis talking all things rugby league, from the grass roots to the board room. When I heard that this show was happening, I thought ‘it’s about time’.

    Fox Sports has come a long way in the last five years. When Lara Pitt started at the station in 2012, there were no female presenters in the rugby league space. Now Fox Sports is home to several extremely talented women in rugby league media including all of the women who will feature on this show.

    The NRL is often criticised (unfairly in my view) as being a boy’s club. While we still have a long way to go, I continue to see women being given opportunities in rugby league whether it be to referee (like Kasey Badger), to lead (like Raelene Castle), to play (like Ruan Sims) or to govern like (Marina Go). League Life is another example of such an opportunity.

    It’s interesting to me that Fox Sports CEO, Patrick Delany commented that this show will appeal to men and women. This is stating the obvious. These women are passionate about rugby league, are talented journalists and love the sport, just like any male which features on the rugby league broadcast. They are going to do an outstanding job and I can’t wait to watch.

    Yvonne Sampson

    Introducing Simona de Silvestro
    Last September it was announced that Simona de Silvestro was going to join the Supercars Championship for the 2017 season, making her the first full-time female driver in the series’ recent history. Simona has signed a three-year deal and this news was almost enough to get me interested in motorsport.

    Simona is a talented driver and has seen success in open-wheel racing as well as in the Indycar Series and the Formula E Championship.

    Earlier this week, Simona spoke passionately about women in sport and how determined she was to be a role model for other young women.

    As another woman passionate about women in sport, I am always deeply encouraged when I see other women embrace their status as role models.

    The debate about whether athletes should be role models is one I often find myself in. I am strongly of the view that it’s not really a question worth debating, because the reality is, once a person finds themselves in the public eye (particularly in the sporting space), I think they are a role model and will have people across the community looking up to them.

    This does not put them under obligation to be ‘perfect’ – in my view it places them under an obligation to be decent human beings.

    What I find interesting is that, in general, female athletes seem very willing to embrace this role model status. Women like Alex Blackwell, Michelle Heyman, Sharni Layton, Shelley Watts and Ruan Sims, each in their own way have spoken about how important it is to be a role model not just in their own sports, but for women in general. In particular, Alex Blackwell and Michelle Heyman have embraced being openly gay athletes and are very strong proponents of encouraging people to ‘be themselves’.

    Sometimes I wish that the small minority of our male athletes who seem to rally against their ‘status’ as role models would embrace it as passionately and fiercely as these women do.

    Congratulations to the Melbourne City FC Women and captain coach Jess Fishlock who defeated the Perth Glory Women 2-0 in the W-League grand final last Sunday.

    What was most encouraging for me however was the final broadcast figures which were announced earlier this week.

    The game was attended by 4,591 people and watched by 165,000 on Fox Sports and 275,000 on ABC – this totalled 440,000 just on television. These figures meant that the previous attendance record and ratings record were both smashed.

    To me, these figures say that people are absolutely interested in the W-League and women’s football. I hope that next year, there is a greater focus on increased broadcast of games (whether that be on television or on social media) and ensuring consistency of venue so that we can work towards maximising eyes on the W-League both from at the stadium and at home.


    Super Netball is here!
    The wait is over. This weekend the Super Netball competition launches. Netball is not a sport I have watched much of in the past, but it is a bit hard not to get carried away. This competition presents another opportunity for women to be involved and celebrated in their chosen sport.

    I, of course, am on team Giants and am looking forward to watching Sydney’s next biggest rivalry erupt tomorrow night when the Giants take on the Sydney Swifts.

    If you haven’t watched netball before, there has never been a better time to get into the sport. This competition will be broadcast in a way not yet seen before with Channel Nine televising a double-header live on Saturday night and then featuring two delayed games. Telstra will broadcast two exclusive matches per week and simulcast Nine’s two live matches. All games will be available live on a ‘Netball Live’ mobile app.

    And then there are the players on the court who are some of the best in the world – players like Kimberlee Green, Susan Pettitt and Sharni Layton.

    One final tip for players – if you get the opportunity to tune in and listen to Sharni Layton commentate a game, make sure you do. Laughs guaranteed or your money back.

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

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    The Crowd Says (51)

    • February 17th 2017 @ 5:03am
      peeeko said | February 17th 2017 @ 5:03am | ! Report

      nice update Mary

    • February 17th 2017 @ 9:01am
      Ahmed said | February 17th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      Hopefully the day comes when it is impossible for you to do a complete wrap due to the volume of women’s sport occuring!!

      It’s interesting that whilst football seems to have taken the lead with the AFLW, league seems to be taking the lead with women in media. I love that all female panel!

      I wonder if the w-eague crowd was improved due to increased discussion following the AFLW. Proof that sports help each other grow.

      With the AFL men’s pre season starting it will be interesting to see how the AFLW stands up!

      The new netball comp sounds very exciting, and I’ll be tuning in to see some speedy hands and footwork.

      • Columnist

        February 17th 2017 @ 9:04am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | February 17th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        Ahmed, I have to be honest, it’s getting much harder because so much stuff is happening (how good is it)!!!

        I absolutely agree with your comment about different sports leading the way in different areas. In terms of perhaps governance and media I would put the NRL as leaders. In terms of participation though – cricket and AFL are really pushing boundaries at the moment.

        Thanks again for all your support – enjoy your sport this weekend!

    • February 17th 2017 @ 11:40am
      Birdy said | February 17th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

      Really looking forward to League Life kicking off the all NRL channel.
      It will be a great succes.
      On women’s sport i think its long overdue for an entire channel to be dedicated to it.
      During the 2000 Sydney olympics i watched hockey fir the first time at the international level. Both men and womens games were of the highest quality.
      Netball deserves its place at the top but surely womens hockey could reach the same level of success if given the exposure.

      • Columnist

        February 17th 2017 @ 11:45am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | February 17th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

        A whole channel devoted to women’s sport sounds like a dream come true. Is there room for me on that channel, Birdy?!

        • February 17th 2017 @ 11:50am
          Birdy said | February 17th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

          Mary, I’m surprised , no amazed that your not on the all women league show.
          I have foxtel only for sport (NRL)
          The rubbish they force on us with the rest of the channels , an all womens channel would have to out rate all of them.

          • Columnist

            February 17th 2017 @ 12:01pm
            Mary Konstantopoulos said | February 17th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

            Oh Birdy, you have absolutely made my day with that comment. Thank you so much!!

            • February 17th 2017 @ 2:04pm
              Birdy said | February 17th 2017 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

              So happy I made your day Mary.
              Whenever i give my wife a compliment she normally comes back with what have you broken.

              • Columnist

                February 17th 2017 @ 2:18pm
                Mary Konstantopoulos said | February 17th 2017 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

                I am a sucker for flattery, Birdy. 🙂

    • February 17th 2017 @ 11:48am
      Nardio said | February 17th 2017 @ 11:48am | ! Report

      Just a query (not a criticism) … the media has been overdrive about the crowds at Women’s AFL matches … is it correct admission to all games is FREE…
      If so, I have not read nor heard that mentioned in any media reports.

      • Columnist

        February 17th 2017 @ 12:01pm
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | February 17th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

        It definitely is free, Nardio!

      • February 17th 2017 @ 5:40pm
        Ben said | February 17th 2017 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

        Yes, the AFLW are paying women to play for pretty much no return at all… Free $$$!


        • Columnist

          February 17th 2017 @ 9:03pm
          Mary Konstantopoulos said | February 17th 2017 @ 9:03pm | ! Report

          And I guess it’s just the AFL that are underpaying their female players then?

          • February 17th 2017 @ 10:45pm
            Ben said | February 17th 2017 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

            You spelt “overpaying” wrong Mary.

            I’ll put it into perspective for you:

            A farmer (the AFL) has 2kgs of apples. He sells them for $5 per kilo. People pay for his apples because they like to eat them. He likes selling people apples because it makes him $$$. That’s business.

            So he sells the first kilo of apples (AFL players) for $5. The buyer is happy because they got some apples and the farmer is happy because he got $5. The buyers will keep coming.

            Now he has a kilo of apples (AFLW players) left. But no one wants to buy them because they don’t look as good as the first (AFL players) apples. So, he spends hours polishing these apples. Hours and hours and hours. Then even after all the time he’s spent polishing them, no one will pay for them. So he gives them away for free. The people that get the apples for free are happy, but agree they wouldn’t “pay” for them same apples because they didn’t taste very good.

            Do you think the farmer should keep polishing the bad apples even though they aren’t making him any $$$ in return?

            The bottom line is that the AFLW players are being paid a minimum of $5000 a season, yet being sold by the AFL for free.

            Now unless you can prove otherwise. I’ll go along thinking that there’s no way sponsorship and the $$$ tv networks pay for the AFLW will cover player salaries, ground hire, airfares, accommodation, training facilities and staff for very long.

            The crowds are already (even though it’s free) dropping, so are the tv ratings. So sponsors have probably already lost $$$. They’ll get sick of that pretty quick and cut their losses.

            When this happens, how do the AFL expect to make $$$ off a brand that people don’t like seeing for free?…

            The AFLW players are massively overpaid.

            • Columnist

              February 18th 2017 @ 5:31am
              Mary Konstantopoulos said | February 18th 2017 @ 5:31am | ! Report

              If you think getting paid $5000 to play professional sport for 7 weeks in one of our country’s biggest sporting codes is too much, then you and are are so far away from being on the same page that we are in separate books.

              • February 18th 2017 @ 10:00am
                Ben said | February 18th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

                Mary, this is where we are different. You believe they should be paid simply because the men get paid.

                The men get paid for what they bring to the business of AFL.

                The women effectively lose the AFL money. Because they aren’t being paid for the skills and entertainment the men are paid for. So they are being paid for… well… simply being women.

                Where are the jobs out there where you get get paid for just being a man?

              • February 18th 2017 @ 11:30pm
                Maggie said | February 18th 2017 @ 11:30pm | ! Report

                Sheffield Shield cricket.

              • February 26th 2017 @ 11:28am
                GoGWS said | February 26th 2017 @ 11:28am | ! Report

                Ben – with respect mate this is all pretty short term thinking. The AFL isn’t there with an abacus counting the beans, and rationally working through a tightly justified business case and paying players too much, or too little…it just not that scientific at this stage. This is clearly all a bit speculative with the AFL is more or less have a bit of a spin of the wheel to see what happens….and so far the AFLW has exceeded the AFL’s expectations. Longer term they’ll have a more settled position and a more rational basis on which to model player wages, and longer term sustainable business models. Short term there is no illusions or claims about sustainable wages, and therefore any comments about wages in the short term being too high or too low just don’t make sense.

    • February 17th 2017 @ 12:00pm
      GD66 said | February 17th 2017 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

      Yes, admission is free, Nardio. It will be interesting to see how strongly the support lingers after the initial novelty dissipates, (and admission fees are introduced) but it is still great to see it get off the ground. I personally would like to see at least one Australia v NZ women’s rugby league test played annually, the last one that was played before the Anzac test but broadcast afterwards was an absolute blinder !
      And congrats to Fox for assembling the League Life team, NRL are miles ahead of the dinosaur-riddled AFL when it comes to getting smart ladies aboard, and Hannah Hollis is a great pickup, but unfortunately only after the sad demise of League Nation Live show, where she shone.
      Good article, Mary.

      • Columnist

        February 17th 2017 @ 12:03pm
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | February 17th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

        Thanks GD66! Really appreciate your comment.

        Having admission as free is something the AFLW looks to have borrowed from the Big Bash, where admission to the WBBL is free too. It’s a good way to get people attached to a brand and hopefully build even more interest!

        And your dream has come true – there will be another Test this year too on May 5 in Canberra.

        • February 17th 2017 @ 12:15pm
          Maxo said | February 17th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

          Free admission to AFLW borrowed from Big Bash -ru serious?? Good grief – and when are the NRL going to get a female commentator for the womens game. “The AFL is a dinosaur regards to women” – oh you have missed all those female commentators on the AFLW plus Caroline Wilson, samantha Lane, the lady from Fox perth, Nerloie Meadows, the woman on the Nine AFL show,etc – don’t you love it when NRL propagandists write in from NRL Central.

          • Columnist

            February 17th 2017 @ 12:45pm
            Mary Konstantopoulos said | February 17th 2017 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

            Maxo, don’t get your knickers in a knot. Last week I was called an AFL propagandist… now I’m a rugby league propagandist. Make up your minds team!


            I spoke about all those women last week, Maxo. I love all sport and don’t discriminate.

            • February 17th 2017 @ 1:29pm
              clipper said | February 17th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

              Looks like you can’t win, Mary – better just to comment on every sport there is – make sure you don’t exclude Kabbadi, so you can’t get accused of bias.
              Always good to have an all women sport program, will be interesting to see the numbers.

            • February 17th 2017 @ 4:52pm
              Maxo said | February 17th 2017 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

              Mary, You overreacted which is unlike your gender – I was referring to an earlier cheap anti AFL post which has since been deleted. Though your comments about the AFL copying the Big bash having free entry was bizarre.

              • Columnist

                February 17th 2017 @ 9:02pm
                Mary Konstantopoulos said | February 17th 2017 @ 9:02pm | ! Report

                It seems that the person overreacting was you in your initial response. And being patronising? Hmmm something some members of your gender seem to have no problem with.

              • February 20th 2017 @ 4:06pm
                Maxo said | February 20th 2017 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

                Perhaps I am female…never occurred to you…despite me quoting from the post which wasn’t you you assumed it was all about you – how embarrassing…

      • February 17th 2017 @ 5:41pm
        Ben said | February 17th 2017 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

        I watched the Jillaroos vs Ferns last year and was very impressed!

        • Columnist

          February 17th 2017 @ 9:02pm
          Mary Konstantopoulos said | February 17th 2017 @ 9:02pm | ! Report

          Kezie Apps is my favourite!

          • February 17th 2017 @ 9:59pm
            Ben said | February 17th 2017 @ 9:59pm | ! Report

            There are some stand outs. But their skills in general were an eye opener.

            I’ve watched a fair bit of female club rugby league over the years, and considering that there aren’t heaps of females playing the game, there’s quite a lot of skillful players and big girls that can move pretty quick.

            I’m not sure exactly what the NRL are doing in regards to developing a women’s competition. But with $$$ going to the right places, they could have a pretty marketable competition in a few years time.

    • Roar Guru

      February 17th 2017 @ 12:15pm
      mds1970 said | February 17th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

      It’s great to see the amount of content for a women’s sport wrap continue to grow. And raising the profile of women in sport.
      Tomorrow I’m doing a women’s sport double-header. Starting at Blacktown for the Giants v Freo AFLW game, then in the evening the Giants v Swifts netball season opener. Would have been unthinkable in years gone by.

      Another female sporting appointment came through last night. AFL journalist Emma Quayle, who previously covered the drafts for the Fairfax papers, is joining GWS Giants as a recruiter – the first woman to be a recruiter for an AFL club.
      With her knowledge of the drafts, and her contacts, this should be a good appointment for the Giants.

      • Columnist

        February 17th 2017 @ 2:23pm
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | February 17th 2017 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

        That is fantastic! I wanted to go to the double header too, but I wasn’t quick enough to get GIANTS netball tickets. But I will see you at the AFL. Enjoy every second.

        Great news about Emma Quayle too!

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