Exchange to Change | September 2015 | Page 10

What do you think about this article? Do you watch sport live? Or on tv? Also women’s sports events? I usually watch sport, live or on TV, and even if I have no preference of sport regarding the gender of athletes, for some type of sports, I prefer watching some games depending on the gender of athletes. For instance, I prefer watching men’s soccer than women’s soccer because I find men’s soccer more attractive and spectacular. In addition, there is more suspense in men’s soccer because it is not easy for each team to goal or to win. In women’s soccer, as we have seen in 7th edition of World Cup for Women organized in Canada this year, some matches demonstrate that women’s soccer is far from boring. It is possible to have scores like 20 to 0 and in that case, the game becomes unpleasant. On the other hand, I like seeing women doing artistic sports (e.g. classic dance, artistic pati) because they demonstrate stylishness, good self-control and prettiness in figures than men. In all cases, I think that gender disparities can be reduced if each gender (men or women) can demonstrate his ability to perform in each sport, in order to attract the public as well as sport business companies. At the present time, the importance of any sport or the probability of any athlete to be notorious and to earn a high wage, depends on sport marketing bodies, including sponsors and public. As mentioned in the article on sport en gender, Alfonsina Strada has been celebrated because she has been the first woman who cycled the Giro d’Italia. Also, Mrs Billy Jean King has been notorious in the history because she won a race face to her male opponent Bobby Riggs in 1973. In both cases, these women have done an effort to realize their dreams and both events were broadcasted and covered by newspapers! Subsequently, I think that in any sport, if someone did his best to succeed, his notoriety and his earnings can be improved positively because our society has changed. Many efforts have been done to reduce gender disparities in all sector, and in the view of these improvements, it is possible to reduce also gender disparities in Sport. If sport broadcasting is demand driven (they only broadcast what people want to see), do 10 you think it is not a problem that it’s mostly only men’s soccer, men’s cycling, … on TV … as the viewer is always right ? Certainly, sport broadcasting is influenced by demand, since the broadcast channels first want to make money. Today, sport is governed by corporate marketing and companies sponsoring the players. Therefore, these organizations are encouraged to influence television channels in order that they broadcast more sport events for which they can earn a lot of money. Unfortunately, these are sports where men are more present (such as soccer, basketball, tennis...) that are the most broadcasted, as the viewer has more interest in them. So, we could say that actually the viewer is always right because it is him who pays the sports broadcasting royalties that make the profits of broadcast channels, as well as the products of sponsors that are promoted by players and athletes. However, in a further analysis, it appears that it is really the sponsors and TV channels that are always right because they are the ones who choose what to broadcast and when to do it. Spectators are only end consumers, and often they only consume what is available. Also, even if these actors decide to distribute more sport where women are highlighted, certainly that spectators will have any choice but to watch them, especially with all the publicity made around the sport. So there is hope to see a reduction in gender disparities in the distribution of sports programming, if we can raise awareness and convince these sponsors and TV channels to give more attention for women players in their promotional activities. Do you think the wage difference between top female and male athletes is justified? Or not? What about the fact that women are allowed to participate in all athletic disciplines in the Olympic games, while men are not allowed to enter synchronized swimming? For my opinion, even if the gender wage gap in sport seems to be high, the level of disparities between the wages of top female and male athletes depends on the type of sport, the perception of the importance of this sport by the public and the sponsoring related. In tennis for instance, women athletes got notoriety, and the public seems to appreciate roughly at the same value women’s men’s tennis. In that case, sponsors, marketing and broadcast companies are obliged to pay more attention to women athletes engaged in tennis competitions (like the two American sisters, Serena and Venus Williams; the Russian tennis woman, Maria Sharapova, etc.). This attention increases the opportunities for these women athletes to have more sponsors, more spectators for games, as well as a good remuneration if they play very well. In other sports like athletics, figure skating, women athletes have gained good reputation as men. For example, the public seems to appreciate watching women’s athletics as much as men’s athletics, and many women athletes for this sport like Shelly-Ann Fraser (Jamaican), Alyson Felix (American), Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopian) are more and more known by the public. However, in many sports like soccer, basketball, cycling, men’s games have more attention of the public than women’s games. Historically, this situation remains since many years and, even if women’s soccer for instance is currently improved in comparison to the past years, it is too far to have the notoriety of men’s soccer. Concerning gender, disparities in participating in some disciplines in the Olympic Games like athletics for women and synchronized swimming for men, it seems that this comes from cultural and traditional ste