Monday, April 29, 2013

How much do female sports stars really earn?

Anyone wondering about the financial gap between women and men in sport need just take a look at this year's Sports Rich List and ... weep.

This is the Top Twelve - you'll notice there are two women on the page. But unfortunately both are girl-friends of very successful men. 

So I turned the page and turned and turned the page, right down to Number 100  and no women. It's heartbreaking. 

After all the hype of the Olympics, after all the progress made in the last few years, the harsh reality it that women simply don't earn anywhere near the sums their male counterparts make.

As you can see from the cover, the editors tried to balance things out and find women who are earning significant amounts from their sport but the numbers speak for themselves. 

Olympian Jessica Ennis has sponsorship deals with Adidias, Pruhealth, Olay and others including Sky Sports. Commentators predict she could earn £3m which leaves her trailing the lowest amount in the main lists of £91m. 

Tennis is the one sport where there is something approaching parity. The top male player Roger Federer earned $76,779,184 while top woman Serena Williams took home $43,304,272. 

What can we do about this? Does it mean male sports starts are obscenely overpaid or that women are significantlly underpaid?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What laws are needed for outdoor activity centres in Ireland?

Outdoor sports, adventure sports, extreme sports - call them what you like but they're growing in Ireland. The question is whether they're growing safely. Last week I talked to a number of people in the industry here who have major concerns at the lack of regulation in the industry.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Surfer Easkey Britton Needs Your Help!

Remember last year when Irish surfer Easkey Britton went to Iran and surfed, starring in a documentary? Well, she's going back and this time she's the one making the film - working with a group of Iranian school-girls who're learning to surf. 

We forget sometimes how great sport is for sharing. Who needs a long lecture on equal rights when you can just get in the water and show people. 

So this is my contribution to a plea from Britton for help in sponsoring her film.* 

She said: "Waves of Freedom is a follow-up documentary film project in Iran promoting gender equity and freedom of expression through surfing in Iran with local women and girls. The shoot is scheduled for this September with director Marion Poizeau.

"We are currently trying to raise support for production costs. Every little helps and if you can't give then help spread the word! "

It sounds like a lot of fun but fun that could change those girls' lives - if you're reading this, you understand the joy sports brings to anyone.

So, please spare a dime, pop over to Waves of Freedom on Indigogo and support a great film.  

Poizeau is the same director who filmed Britton's own trip to Iran last year, I posted about that here.

*I'll give money too but this is fun to do. 


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The reaction to the Boston Marathon bombings

It's been difficult reading and listening to the coverage of the Boston Marathon, not thankfully because any of my friends or family were injured, but because of the relentless 'you can't beat a marathoner' attitudes. 

Actually you can. Three people so far are dead. The list of men, women and children left without legs is horrific, simply horrific. It just seems facile to drag out the sort of slogans used to get you over a hill or to break that running wall and say yeah, this fits here. 

Perhaps in this situation acknowledging someone's grief and pain is more useful to them than making T-shirt slogans and online memes. I doubt very much the mothers who have lost children need to see the posturing going on this week. 

I understand people are afraid and they want to somehow prove to the bombers - whoever they are - that this act cannot hurt them. But it already has. 

There is a place for grief and sadness and this is it.  In the same way we should be reaching out  to victims in Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar. All deaths caused by mankind's absolute lack of humanity should be mourned, not hidden under a quilt of superficial sloganeering. 


Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy Thai New Year - Songkhran!

I lived in Bangkok for ten brilliant years thanks to a slight obsession with Muay Thai. This weekend is Songkhan - or Thai New Year. It's essentially a nationwide water fight involving fire-engines, buckets of ice-cold water, parties and of course lots of Muay Thai events. It goes on for at least three days and is by far one of the best times to be in Thailand.

Live music from the 'phipat' orchestra accompanies each fight 

Specialised cheering! This pic was taken about five years ago but you can still see him today.
MuayThai gear drying on my balcony in Bangkok


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Women's Six Nations Rugby saved

And then it was over. The Six Nations tournament council met yesterday and decided not to change the format for the women's rugby tournament down to two-tier contest.

It's probably not too far a stretch to say social media especially information fed through women's rugby-site Scrum Queens played a significant role in this decision. Watching Twitter fill up with support for the women's teams was very heartening to this cynic, not to mention a number of articles in newspapers in all six countries. 

So we have another exciting tounament to look forward to next year, and perhaps all of this extra attention will bring a few more players into the club leagues as well.

Coverage of yesterday's meeting here and here.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What will happen with Women's Six Nations this week?

So the controversy over the Women's Six Nations rugby tournament rumbles on with a board meeting this week - but we don't know whether a decision will be taken then or not. 

Was 2013 the last time for photos like this? PIC BBC Sport
It is however great to see the possible changes getting more coverage in the countries concerned  - even some Members of Parliament in Wales have spoken out. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Women's Sport and Fitness completely rejected the plans a few days ago- details here.

Philip Doyle, the Irish coach gave an interview here saying he is opposed to any changes. And bearing in  mind the changes could benefit Ireland in the short-term, that's a very strong stance to take. 

It really frustrates me this is happening. Sometimes being involved with women's sport is just, well it's just difficult. Of course we all realise finances are limited but why is it always the women's side of the sport which gets knocked on the head? 

Ireland's men have won the Grand Slam twice since Wales were the first Champions in 1908 but obviously we keep sending teams in the hope of another win. That same dedication to hope just seems to be missing when it comes to women's teams right across the tournament.

Scrum Queens have a broader look at women's rugby in the media here in their first Media Watch, well worth a look.

If you've heard anymore on this, leave a comment or drop me an email!

UPDATE Tuesday afternoon: A positive Tweet from @scrumqueens: 

Scrumqueens #wrugby ‏@ScrumQueens 8m

We are confident that tomor at least 5 of the unions present will argue against the proposals &we hope that's enough to have them thrown out