If you’re after equality, don’t show women’s football. Show Badminton.

10 May 2014

Over the next two days, one of the most important events in the British sporting calendar takes place. No, not the final day of the Premier League season. Badminton Horse Trials, obviously. This is one of only two annual horse trials in the UK (and six in the world) at which eventers compete at the top level. Oh, and one of the favourites to win is British. So of course the BBC is broadcasting it on one of their main channels, right? Wrong.

During the London Olympics, equestrianism was one of the most popular sports on the BBC red button channel, with the freestyle musical dressage (aka horse dancing) in particular attracting a wide audience. But Badminton, a three-day event involving professional sportsmen, has only been blessed with two hours of BBC2 coverage (this Sunday, 14:30 – 16:30, if you’re interested).

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On Thursday night, on the other hand, the BBC decided to devote two and a half hours of programming to a qualifying match of the Women’s football World Cup. If it were the final, I’d have understood I suppose. But a qualifying match? Seriously?

Alright, alright, I understand the ‘equality’ side of things Since men’s football gets so much coverage, surely it’s only fair that the women’s version should also receive a bit of coverage. But if we’re going to pull the equality card, then hang on a minute. I’m all for promoting minority sports. But there’s more to equality than just female versions of men’s sports.

Eventing (and, indeed, most equine sports that I can think of) is one of the few sports when women and men compete on a completely equal level, and where there are just as many male as female competitors. Now that’s what I call proper equality.

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  • Gwangi

    This article makes really good points. I for one and getting truly sick of the fantasist diversity munchkins at the BBC lecturing us all about how every women’s sport is the equivalent of any men’s sport and so we should be giving it equal airtime.


    The BBC say that partly because they have lost the rights to most major men’s sport; and party coz they are so in thrall to worshipping and admiring the clobber of the great emperor of diversity that they simple cannot see the bald nakedness of their own absurdity.

    Fine, televise women’s sport, but no, women’s football is not the equivalent of men’s BUT some sports may be – tennis is perhaps one example, though the women’s game is way below the men’s still (as advertisers know), but it is OK. In some sports, women’s achievement and men’s are on a par – as this article makes clear.

    Let’s just not be silly because we’ve been on too many diversity awareness courses run by the BBC equality gestapo, OK?

  • sunnydayrider

    What a useless article, nearly as useless as me for reading past the title.

  • Liz

    My concept of equality is not sameness. It certainly isn’t women being shoehorned into a system designed by men for men over several millennia of gradual cultural appropriation when women were deliberately excluded from the process.

    True equality will be when we have communication channels and giant stadia reflecting women’s trivial and mediocre achievements.

  • Thoughtful Ulsterman

    The BBC are atrocious at varied sports coverage in general. The Giro D’Italia has started for the past 3 days in this part of the UK and not a mention on the national news.

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  • Mrs.JosephineHyde-Hartley

    To me , equality in sport is about anyone being able to afford to do it. With football or running for example, one only needs one’s feet and some shoes. Horse riding is ridiculously expensive and can be particularly exclusive, depending of course on who you know. Football can be played anywhere – whatever form it takes.

    • Desperate_searcher

      So why are top footballers paid hundreds of thousands a week while top competition riders live in caravans? It is an expensive sport but only as far as you want to take it. Keeping a top horse in full livery will cost you thousands, a DIY placement in a field with a stable will cost you around £10-20 a week. The cost of a horse? How long is a piece of string.

    • Desperate_searcher

      AAANNNddd… good point about running – so why isn’t that getting any publicity either? Meets up and down the country all year round but in the media all we get is footballfootballfootballfootballfootballfootball. Sports broadcasters don’t even bother to announce which sport they’re reporting on when they launch into the latest controversy over someone’s metatarsal

  • anncalba

    Football, male or female, is the most boring sport in the world. Male football is worse, because there really are very sad men out there whose whole life revolves around the fortunes of “their” team – almost certainly foreign owned, corrupt and only in it for the money. Thank heavens, of my 3 son’s in law and 4 grandsons, only one of them is remotely interested in the “beautiful game” – and only because he is a gambler and likes to place a football bet. The rest of them have minds of their own.

  • Wessex Man

    and there speaks an out and out Snob of the highest order, Women’s Football is growing in this country and Europe and I’d wager that there a far more women playing Football than Eventing and many many more watching. If you don’t like it don’t watch, just like me only a few miles away from Badminton but will stay away!

    • tjamesjones

      totally agree. there’s no way we get too much football on TV in this country, what a crazy idea!!

    • Desperate_searcher

      “Snob” yourself! Women’s Football may be growing but it’s from very tiny beginnings, or perhaps it should be said, from where it was deliberately knocked back to by organisers of the men’s game in the beginning of the last century.
      I’ll take your bet about the numbers of women involved in football versus eventing. You have no idea how widespread it is but that, of course, is down to the media.
      Yes top competition horses are expensive, but so are top competition racing cars, and there is every level down from that. I never hear anyone calling Lewis Hamilton a toff! Even though he earns squillions more a week than I will do in my lifetime.

  • tjamesjones

    Yes I agree. And it’s not really “men’s football” in any case, it’s “if you’re good enough football”. There is no rule preventing a woman playing for Chelsea FC alongside Lamps and co.

    • James

      There isn’t?
      That’s strange. I guess there’s a rule preventing me from joining the women’s one though.

    • SmellyFingers

      It’s Men’s football because women can’t play in the Men’s league. Women can’t compete alongside Men in football.

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