In the world of professional sports there remains a tremendous double-standard, not only in compensation but also in recognition. A well-known BBC Radio 5 commentator recently provided the world with a sad reminder of that double-standard. Last Saturday, Marion Bartoli became the new Wimbledon tennis champion. Shortly after her amazing win, John Inverdale asked on-air, “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, ‘you’re never going to be a looker, you’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight?‘”
Let’s hope that Marion Bertoli thought nothing of that stupid, ignorant, chauvenistic comment and spent her time focusing on the fact that she has won what is arguably the most well-known tournament in all of sports. It seems that she certainly was by the tone of her response.
It doesn’t matter, honestly. I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I’m sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes.
Way to go, Marion.
Although Inverdale’s question was infuriating, it serves as a sad but all-too-real reminder that women, regardless of their skill or intelligence, are too often still recognized by males only if they have a specific appearance. This, in my opinion, is all the more reason why we need to support one another and continue to demand equal rights and respect.
It has been no secret on this site that I am a sports junkie and a fan of Robin Roberts from her days at ESPN. Roberts is the executive producer of Nine for IX, a fascinating series of documentaries about women in sports, and I encourage you to mark your calendars and set your DVR’s for the next several Tuesday nights.
As in all areas of business and life, women deserve equality in sports – both in pay and in respect. An email that went out this week about the documentary from Miss Representation said it best. “…. even though they are not adequately covered by the media, women are capable of being awe-inspiring athletes and they can influence our larger culture just as much as their male counterparts.”
If you are a parent, consider watching the upcoming documentaries with your children. Regardless of their gender, let’s show them just how much women are awe-inspiring and influencing our culture because of their incredible skills on-and-off the field. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter at #NineforIX.
The first documentary aired on July 2nd as a profile of Venus Williams and her fight for equal pay for women at Wimbledon. The second powerful documentary aired on July 9th and focused on legendary basketball coach Pat Summit. You can download them both on iTunes here or check your local ESPN listings for times when the documentaries may air again.
Let’s show our kids that they don’t have to “be a looker” to be a success and let’s support female athletes by watching of Nine for IX.
Photo credit: ESPN