There is much sport to savour this weekend with two showpiece events: the Derby and Champions League Final.
John Pargiter will be watching the golf at Memorial where the Tiger Woods game is now restored if not match winning. Andy Murray is making a fist of it against the invincible Djorkovic and many eyes will be on the Roland Garros at midday. Yet amongst this cornucopia of sport, radio 5′ s preview programme last evening discussed primarilythe Women’s World Cup.
Why is this?
I believe there are 3 reasons. One of the most influential of all commentators is Clare Balding and she has applied her shoulder to the wheel of promoting all forms of female sporting participation; secondly and allied to this, the powers that be have their agenda and sometimes forget this is a public broadcasting station paid by the tax payer and promote their good causes even if – and we are afraid to say it – woman’s football is below the standard of Conference League. Finally the BBC has precious few live sporting rights left. On the said programme there was a woman’s footballer alongside Pat Nevin and Trevor Sinclair who, dare I say it ,was not very good. There are some excellent broadcasters who are women – note I don’t say woman broadcaster as its the latter that is important not the sex. I much enjoy Alison Mitchell’s contribution to TMS. She has the lightness of touch, humour but underlying knowledge necessary. Annabel Croft is equally competent at tennis but others blame sexism for a lack of commentating quality.
Show jumping is a sport where men and women actually compete against one another. Bob Tickler was hosting a party and I chatted to his p/a Polly, an accomplished horsewoman and trainer and not yet 30. Hers is an inspiring tale. She is now a triathlete and raised more money in sponsored runs for charity (Mind) than any individual in Brighton. Fat chance of hearing her story of achievement or promoting a sport that could do with a leg up.
I know in commentating one person’s meat is another poison. So maybe out there are listeners and viewers who disagree vehemently with my critique. Nonetheless, once the BBC had exacting standards. It was unfair to the extent that you were invited to commentate or analyse and, if you were not any good, not invited back. This happened to Sally Gunnell and countless others. I suspect the PC grip is vice-like and there is fear that if you sideline a commentator who is female you are soon facing a torrent of accusation that you are sexist. I should not use a sexual metaphor, I know, but in every sense it’s a turn- off.