Why I am excited about the Women’s Rugby World Cup

The women’s rugby world cup will start on Friday and I can’t wait. The anticipation I feel is almost too much to bear. Why? It’s not because I’m particularly patriotic and look forward to lauding England’s superiority in a post-colonial world, as I’m secretly hoping for an upset in the pool stages – maybe Sweden or Kazakhstan will pull off the surprise of the tournament. It’s not that I am desperate to watch some high quality rugby, although for the sake of the game itself I hope the games are compelling on account of the skill level. It’s not even because it is out of term time and I need something to occupy my attention; if only that were true. The reason I am counting down the days, hours and minutes is that I’ve become involved in the women’s rugby world cup narrative.

What I mean by this is that I’ve been following the ‘tweets’, watching the youtube videos, reading the articles on various websites and news outlets, and I’ve found myself starting to care about the characters and the developing story-lines. I’ve become emotionally engaged in it because the characters have been unfolding and it has started to mean something to me; I want to know what happens next.

This is where the media play a hugely important role in women’s sport. Too often the excuse for not reporting women’s sport (perhaps tennis and athletics excepting) is that no-one is interested. The trouble is, that people don’t get interested in things unless they know about them and become involved in the background stories and narratives. As I’ve commented elsewhere, this is where the BBC (in it’s capacity as a public service) has a moral obligation. They need to recognise that engagement only begins after exposure. (Actually, the BBC know this full well otherwise they would never ‘trailer’ anything – how often have you seen the trailer for BBC online news on the television?!)

The reason that so many non-football fans watch the men’s world cup, or that we end up watching some obscure Olympic sport is wholly down to subtle (or non so subtle) manipulation and exposure via television, radio and the web for months beforehand. Once the mainstream media start to do this with women’s sport, then the interest and enthusiasm generated will snowball.

This is what has happened to me and my thirst for the women’s rugby world cup over the last few months in this new age of social media. I’ve become engaged, involved and I want more…

2 thoughts on “Why I am excited about the Women’s Rugby World Cup

  1. Do you not think in the age of equality (hehum, she says with hesitancy) and the fact that we pay a tax for it in the form of a TV licence, the BBC should be expected, no required to spend equal money and coverage time on male and female sport? Can we find a lawyer, barrister maybe who’s willing to take the BBC to court for it’s blatant sexual discrimination in sports coverage? Who wants to get the ball rolling? I have read somewhere that women make up a significant number of sport viewing numbers. Surely as a public body the BBC should demonstrate that males and females have equal value, not possibly in monetary terms, but certainly in terms of entertainment and sporting prowess.

  2. Thanks Nic, I think you’re right and the BBC probably do have a legal obligation to represent women’s sport much better. Perhaps various women’s sports governing bodies should look into it, or at least start lobbying the Government to do put some pressure on the BBC board.

    Actually, we ought to be writing to the Secretary for Sport and the BBC ourselves.

    I am off to type an email now…

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