So I just finished my glass of wine to celebrate New South Wales winning the first game of the State of Origin and it has me thinking; the packed stadium, the great athletes, the huge pay checks and sponsorship deals and the fact that this kind of thing only happens with men’s sport. There is actually no Womens sports events that compare to the scale of the State of Origin, and I do not accept the premise that there are no women in any sport that are as good as the men who play rugby.
I also have been known to enjoy the odd soccer game in my time as well. I’ve been to A league games and been amazed at the number of people who attend the games, even though soccer is not a sport that has always had huge followings in Australia. But I also watch the W league, which my first gripe starts with the fact that the Men’s football league is called the A, and the women’s the W. While the Womens games are played at small local size fields. But it doesn’t end there the male players are paid well enough that it is their career and the women hold down other jobs or study at University because they aren’t paid enough for it to be their living.
My hometown of Broken Hill a few years ago started a women’s AFL league and it has been a huge success, they have several teams and it is quite competitive. Although it reminded me of when I was younger and still living there where I played cricket until I was twelve and I was told I couldn’t play on the boys team anymore and that there was no women’s hard ball team. I was really unhappy about the fact that I was pushed out of the team that I had played in for several years simply because I was a girl.
While I was reminiscing over my dabble in sports and contemplating how crappy it is that women athletes are still overlooked I came to a realization and that is that women’s sports are at the stage that men’s sports were in the 70’s. Back when AFL players were garbage men so they could stay fit, and cricketers were all poor because they had to take three months off every year to travel. I have to admit I have my moments of enjoying watching the big games, when the State of Origin rolls around (and this year I can watch the blues win for the first time in years) and when Melbourne Victory play Adelaide United and I can hassle United supporters. I also have made an effort to watch women’s sports, I really can get around Canberra United they are a great team, and the Adelaide Thunderbirds who I am tipping to win this year. However you know I actually really enjoy watching the women’s leagues, they are great athletes and when they are paid on par with male athletes they will only get better because they will have more time to put into the game.
So I am happy that the gap is closing and sure that the gap will completely close shortly. I can only hope that it doesn’t take as long for women to be paid enough to make a decent career out of it as it did for men.
National Women’s Officer 2013