Just in

What is – and is not – equality in elite sport

My effort today – which will no doubt make me few new friends or fans from the section of the community that might self-describe itself as the young, the diverse and/or the “woke” – is a simple statement of some of the factual and indeed inevitable practical issues faced by the general drive in not just Western Society towards supposed one-for-one “equality” in terms of media attention, player salaries, celebrity profiles etc. in women’s sport.

I do not deny that at an elite level women’s sport generally has made great strides in the past few years.

Arguably, in some respects professional women’s tennis has already been “equal” for several decades – though some adherents might contend that it still has some way to go in this respect.

In which context it might also be viewed as churlish and chauvinistic of me to point out that in strict terms of “sheer entertainment and value for money” women’s tennis has both over-performed as regards gaining equality – I’d suggest that it is over-compensated for its efforts – and has provided far less value for money – than its male counterpart, not least because its matches (certainly at the world’s four major “Open” tournaments) are played over only a potential maximum of three sets, which is two less than the standard in the men’s version of the game.

On the most basic level – cash, i.e. what is habitually paid for seats to attend any “Open” tournament final – punters have to shell out far less for women’s finals than they do for men’s.

What more fundamental yardstick in the cut-throat world of Capitalism could there be than the old chestnut that “everything in this world is only ever worth what someone is prepared to pay to for it”?

This proposition, of course, flies in the face of the “woke” feminist argument that in elite sport women playing the same sport as men should necessarily be paid the same wages.

The latest issue facing women’s tennis is that so many elite players are retiring early and/or taking long breaks from the grind of constant tournament play around the world.

When it comes to football, nobody could deny the England women’s football team (the Lionesses) their extraordinary success in winning last year’s Euros tournament on home soil, nor its resulting raising of the entire profile of the sport.

This has produced household celebrity for some of the victorious squad, a noticeably greater degree of interest in football amongst girls and young women, far bigger crowds at subsequent WSL league games and a “normalisation” of discussions over subjects specific to sports-playing women.

I am referring here to such issues as the greater propensity of females than men to suffer concussions – and ACL ruptures – in physical contacts sports than men, simply because of the physiology of the female body.

On a related topic, even as a man I can also appreciate as a positive development the “matter of fact” approach to the female monthly cycle (periods) that now dominates sporting media discussions conducted by reporters of both genders, e.g. over recent moves by both football and rugby teams towards abandoning playing in white shorts in favour of dark-coloured ones.

However, it is not unfair of me to point out that the movement towards “mandatory equalisation” of elite women’s and men’s sports has its attendant distinct weaknesses.

It is no coincidence that recently reports and discussions have begun taking place about the most worrying threat/problem facing rugby union’s annual Women’s Six Nations, i.e. the disparity in strength between the top teams (England and France) and the rest.

England’s Red Roses – currently ranked the number one team in the world – are on course to win the Women’s Six Nations for the fifth consecutive year and are averaging over 50 points per game.

It’s not exactly a keenly-competitive tournament is it?

Nobody can hide the reality. The rugby union authorities are at last beginning to address what they can do about it.

As I see it, the answer is not much.

You cannot create a world class tournament out of nothing.

Maybe a handicap system might assist, as golf has adopted for over a century in order to enable players of contrasting ability play each other.

Why not start all England Six Nations matches by giving the opposing country’s team a 25-point handicap start – except France, of course, who perhaps could/should get by on a 10-point one.

The trouble is that women’s sport is not as skilled or good enough to be ranked equal with men’s.

See here for a representative video compilation of “shock” incidents in elite women’s football – courtesy of – YOUTUBE

As I conclude, a further thought occurred to me, prompted by a report in the media today.

Men’s sport cannot hold its head too high in the “Holier Than Thou” stakes.

See here for a report on the fact that in England Premier Rugby Limited’s losses have doubled as it records an accounting loss of £36 million that appears today on the website of the – DAILY TELEGRAPH














Avatar photo
About Miles Piper

After university, Miles Piper began his career on a local newspaper in Wolverhampton and has since worked for a number of national newspapers and magazines. He has also worked as a guest presenter on Classic FM. He was a founder-member of the National Rust board. More Posts