Trending topics

Select your station

We'll remember your choice for next time

The elephant in the room with women’s sport


It was an extraordinary weekend for Australian women’s sport.

In fact, the Aussie females are dominating our Aussie men on the world stage.

The praise has been overwhelming and rightly so.

However, something caught my attention during the dying overs of the women’s Ashes Test match at Manuka on Sunday.

It was a tweet sent from Triple M and Channel 7’s cricket commentator Isabelle Westbury.

It read:

“Whatever happens, lay off the players, lay off Lanning, & lay off telling 'em what they should & shouldn't be doing. 'Cos whatever it is, it's brilliant. Always against the odds, alway surprising. Oh, & this will finish as the fastest scoring Test.”

Westbury’s tweet is reflective of where the sporting community stands in relation to women’s sport.

The media and supporters are scared to objectively analyse what they are watching for fear it will come across as being critical which will create fierce backlash from an overly sensitive cohort.

Westbury hit send on that tweet when the game’s result could have gone either way. She preemptively feared the negativity that never came.

However, if we are to truly analyse Aussie Meg Lanning’s captaincy you’d find she had a shocker. Her field placements were overly defensive against an opposition requiring around five runs an over and her reluctance to bowl her match winning quicks when the game was at a critical juncture deserves close assessment.

You could sense the dismay towards Lanning’s captaincy from Channel 7’s expert commentator Brad Hodge, although he was treading very lightly between friendly advice and negativity.

Had this been the poor captaincy choices of former male skippers Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting or god forbid Michael Clarke, it would’ve been headline news.

Fox Cricket’s Shane Warne has been on a warpath with his criticism towards the men’s team in the lead up and during the recent Ashes series.

Shockingly, he even found a way to find fault with Allan Border Medallist Mitchell Starc’s first ball of the summer which knocked over England opener Rory Burns.

Agree or not with Warne, for this reason, his analysis is must-watch TV. He never sits on the fence and he doesn’t gush over the athlete’s performances when it’s not warranted.

For women’s sport to grow there needs to be a better balance between praise and fair analysis.

It doesn’t just stop at cricket.

It’s season six in the AFLW and the standard improves every year. This year the skill execution and implementation of more complicated game plans is noticeable.

But there have been some really poor team performances and games in general.

Collingwood managed only 10 inside 50s and one goal for an entire game last Thursday, yet I haven’t seen one critical comment about the Magpies woeful performance.

In the lead up to the season we were made to believe that Carlton forward Darcy Vescio is one of the game’s best players, however the stats tell a different story. Through four games this year, the Blue is averaging nine disposals, has kicked just one goal, one and has laid just five tackles. They are numbers deserving of losing your place in the side.

The Blues were full of hype during the pre-season, they are well resourced and well coached. However, right now they sit 10th on the ladder with one win and four losses and a percentage of just 60. The only win came against the winless Cats in round two. Why isn’t the AFLW world talking about this?

The coach Daniel Harford has been a mainstay in commentary for Fox this AFLW season. Imagine if Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew started the 2022 season at 1-3, but was doing weekly commentary for Channel 7. I don’t think we’d be silent about where his priorities should lie.

Richmond has also been disappointing despite some big off-season recruits, but we haven’t heard a word spoken about the biggest club in the land.

I’m acutely aware that the players are part-time and are juggling work and football, but six seasons in we should expect all players to be able to execute a standard drop punt and teams should certainly be capable of entering the forward 50 zone more than 10 times in a game.

The players are desperate to grow the game and become full-time. The only way for that to happen is for the media coverage to be a lot more interesting which will increase the engagement in the sport.

In tennis, Ash Barty was on court for just over an hour in the final of the Australian Open yet her male counterpart Rafael Nadal was out there for over five. They both collected over $2.8 million for their respective wins.

Why shouldn’t Grand Slam women’s events be best of five sets?

It’s not a physical thing, women have been competing and thriving in one of the world’s most gruelling events - the marathon at the Olympics - since 1984.

They don’t get paid a cent.

The nearly four million people that tuned in on Channel Nine to see Ash’s historic victory would have surely loved another hour or so of their hero on court.

In 2022, the divide between praise and criticism of women’s sport is awfully lopsided.

There is little doubt that this is doing more harm than good.

The women’s codes will thrive at a rapid rate when this eventually balances out.

More in Sport