If we do not monitor the reality of sports media coverage as opposed to the aspiration, then little will change by way of the respective representation of male and female athletes.
Last Saturday Sport for Business analysed the imagery that was used across the sports coverage and supplements in Ireland’s four main print publications and in the Guardian by way of reference to the British market.
It was a moment in time but coming off the back of the end of the 20×20 campaign it was timely.
The results would not fill you with confidence that the message is getting home.
For context, this was the weekend of the return of the Guinness Six Nations with Ireland playing Italy in both the Men’s and Women’s events, as well as the opening weekend of fixtures in the All Ireland Hurling Championship and the Liberty Insurance All Ireland Camogie Championship.
It was the morning after the Senior Republic of Ireland Women’s team played their crucial Euro 2021 Qualifier in Ukraine, televised on RTÉ, and the day after Sam Bennett’s stage win in the Vuelta cycling race in Spain.
Lot’s of great sport then, for both men’s and women’s teams.
The most damning finding of the analysis is that the Irish Times did not feature a single image of Women’s sport across its 12 pages of coverage. It was the only Irish paper not to feature imagery of either the Women’s soccer team or the Women’s Rugby team.
It had coverage of plenty of Men’s rugby, including a full page on Sean O’Brien’s new book, and strangest perhaps of all it had two primary pictures on the front and back of the Sports Weekend supplement of Sam Bennett. He is a great sporting story and deserves credit but for two main pictures and not a single one of the Women’s sporting role models is simply not good enough.
The Irish Times was also the only Irish paper not to give any mention at all of the Camogie Championships, despite finding a full four pages for the Hurling.
The Guardian had neither an English team in the Six Nations nor a match to report on in the Euro’s but still devoted space to Sergio Aguerro’s handling of Sian Massey Ellis and the overall state of the national women’s team.
The Irish Daily Star found space for six images in its extensive pagination, the Irish Examiner led the way in percentage terms on this weekend with four images, including a major feature on the Ladies Football Championship, while the Independent had three images.
We will be taking a close look again this weekend, hoping for better, fearing for more of the same, or in this case less.
It really should be better than this.
Sport for Business Partners