The 20X20 initiative is a campaign to raise media coverage, attendance and participation across all Women’s sport. As a long time advocate of parity of esteem, we have been strong supporters of the campaign which is being backed by Sport for Business members including the Federation of Irish Sport, Along Came a Spider, AIG, Three and Lidl.
It’s all about personal commitments to change and ours is the publication of a weekly column looking at different aspects of Women’s Sport both here and around the world that will be relevant in terms of advocacy but also in terms of commercial partnership and sporting administration.
Better is always relative
We were at the Hula Hoops National Basketball Cup Finals last weekend and saw the kind of quality that makes sport so special.
Basketball is one of those where boys and girls, men and women play the same game, using the same equipment and rules and which are given, at least in principle, equal billing.
The NBA versus the Women’s NBA might look different in terms of a lot of areas from scale and commercial backing, to media and more but in Ireland, the two genders are treated as one under the Hula Hoops banner and with all the different partnerships that Basketball has in place.
Both of the finals were broadcast live on TG4 and presented a classic example of how men’s and women’s sport should be compared not on a like for like basis but in what differences each brings.
The argument that Men’s sport will always be better because it is faster and stronger is based on physiology but that has never been the only element. The Men’s Final between Pyrobel Killester and UCD Marian produced a thriller and a last-second buzzer beater of a winning score for Killester. It was fast, it was thrilling and it had the crowd on their feet.
The Women’s final the following evening was a more one-sided affair with Courtyard Liffey Celtics taking the title with a 25 point margin.
But in two games played on the same court, with the same ball and in the same time frame of four quarters, the Men’s final produced total scores of 127 points while the Women’s generated 157.
If physiology is a valid measure of what is good then surely so too is the number of scores in a game. Eventual MVP Sorcha Tiernan scored two three-pointers in the first ninety seconds of the game and the quality of the scoring was exceptional.
It was different but that does not mean it was less.
Promotion of the Women’s Guinness Six Nations
It may not have the greatest of kick-off times but fair play to the IRFU for their promotion of the opening fixture in this year’s Guinness Women’s Six Nations on Friday at Energia Park.
The mainstream media has naturally obsessed over the men’s opener the following day but IrishRugby has consistently promoted the Women’s game, also against England, which gets things underway at 5 pm on Friday evening.
Banners online and a parity of news coverage from the camps of Adam Griggs and Joe Schmidt would never have been imagined a few short years ago but are now central to how the tournament is being pushed through owned channels.
It has been backed up with poster sites across Dublin as well, including ownership over the past two weeks of the sites at the East Link toll bridge.
There is business logic in that tickets for the Aviva are long sold out whereas there is greater scope for new fans, and younger fans to sample the Six Nations in Donnybrook.
The players deserve a big crowd, and to be fair to the IRFU, the effort is being put into delivering just that.
Camogie Woe in Wexford
The opening weekend of the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie National Leagues produced some great action but not in the scheduled fixture between Wexford and Liberty Insurance All Ireland Champions Cork.
Wexford conceded the game due to an inability to field. Their County Champions St Martins were involved in AIB Club Championship but surely still there could have been 15 players pulled together. It happens sometimes at underage but rarely would a fixture be conceded.
Wexford withdrew their Intermediate team in 2018 and the sport appears in turmoil, a mere seven years after winning their last All Ireland title and three since the last time they played in an All Ireland semi-final.
They will now lose half of their grant from the WGPA, a sum of around €4,500 as a financial penalty.
After the travails of the Mayo Ladies Football team last summer we had hoped that the entire focus would be on the pitch this year. For a Division One side not to field is almost beyond belief.
Game Changer Launching Next Week
The Sport for Business AIG Game Changer Network will launch its 2019 ‘season’ on Friday, February 8th when a group of mentors and mentees will gather to learn more about what the programme can deliver for them over the next twelve months and what it did for those who took part in 2018.
Already we have players from the World Cup Final appearing Women’s Hockey team on board as well as from the Irish team in the Guinness Six Nations, from senior Inter County teams in Ladies Football and Camogie, and from Soccer.
Here is a look back on what the Game Changer Network was all about last year…
This column will also provide an opportunity to give space to guest columnists to have their say. That could mean you. Email us today quoting 20X20 Weekly in the Subject line and let’s see what we might do in the coming weeks and months.