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Equality when deserved, I say

On a day in which yet more alarming statistics have been published showing that obesity is becoming an increasingly serious issue for the nation nobody in their right mind could possibly raise an objection to women being encouraged to exercise and/or take up sport.

Nevertheless, historically the Rust has not been slow to point out that the excessive Nanny-State approach of those such as the BBC – in some desperate attempt to be show themselves to be actively ‘right on’ politically-correct – has been overplaying its hand by (without due cause) seeking to treat female sport on an equal par with its male counterpart at every turn, by which I mean to a point beyond which said initiative is justified by the actuality … and has thereby become de facto counter-productive.

The fact is that true sports fans instinctively know the difference between what is good and what is ‘positive action’ gone mad.

Treating female sport and male sport as equal – e.g. to extent of complaining about female athletes being treated less favourably than their male equivalents, even as to payments – is, as the proverbial saying has it – ‘taking the mickey’ or indeed going several steps too far.

At the risk of taking perhaps an extreme example in order to support this line, we need look no further than cricket.

Last summer I turned in to watch the women’s Ashes series upon several occasions. What became immediately clear was that women and five day Test matches are not compatible.

They may become so one day, but certainly not at this stage of the development of women’s cricket.

Those in charge had already seemingly acknowledged this because said Ashes series comprised several one day and/or T20 matches and just the one Test, with different numbers of points being attached to the different forms of the game to decide the overall result.

The fact was – and I watched parts of two days’ worth of the women’s Test match – gazing upon women playing a five day game of cricket was akin to watching paint dry. Or indeed the televising an Under-11s boys match.

The commentators – dutifully, since they had been employed so to do – were striving their best to ‘big up’ what was happening out on the square (describing it in similar terms to a man’s game, i.e. commenting upon the weather conditions, the effect of the shine on the ball, the tactics generally, the fielding, the running between the wickets, and so on) but any impartial television viewer could have been forgiven for gaining the impression that they had chanced upon some form of Alan Partridge-style parody/comedy programme, such was the disparity between what they were witnessing and the manner in which it was being treated.

At the moment, of course, the cricket T20 World Cups – both of them – are coming to their conclusions in India. Earlier this week, fair play all round, both the England teams (male and female) had made it to the semi-finals.

There was even the chance being talked up of both respectively becoming World Champions.

It was only about 48 hours ago that some journalists were jumping on the ‘politically-correct’ bandwagon by pointing out the gulf between the way the England teams were being treated over travelling arrangements: the accusation was made that the men were travelling ‘business class’ on air flights, whereas [Shock! Horror!] the women had to fly ‘steerage’.

(Actually, it was slightly more complicated than that. There was some justification for the men having ‘better’ seats for their transfer because – the deal was – when flying distances were over a certain figure, by negotiated agreement ‘business class’ was indeed applicable, but let that not spoil a good ‘story’).

Then, on successive days, the women’s semi-final and the men’s took place.

The England women lost theirs by only 5 runs. The men won theirs in spectacularly aggressive fashion. On the face of it, it seems, both could have gone ‘either way’.

As it happens, I saw neither ‘live’ – but I did read and hear the reports in the media.

By all accounts the England women had every opportunity to win their match – indeed, many reported that they should have done.

Now, with the dust settling, the true story is apparently coming out. The England women’s team ‘blew it’ big-time. Their middle order collapsed (again); their fielding and running between the wickets was pitiful; time and again, they made ‘schoolboy’ (or should that be ‘schoolgirl’?) errors.

Fortunately, even in this modern British era of smothering political-correctness, some stark home truths have been seeping out.

See here for Mike Selvey’s article on the England women’s cricket semi-final and its aftermath, as published today on the website of – THE GUARDIAN

Perhaps there’s some hope – both for justice and women’s sport – after all …



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About Tom Hollingworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a former deputy sports editor of the Daily Express. For many years he worked in a sports agency, representing mainly football players and motor racing drivers. Tom holds a private pilot’s licence and flying is his principal recreation. More Posts