12/08/2016

I Am A Sport-Loving Female...


...And I love make-up and clothing. I hate the connotations that women who enjoy sport are manly. I'll admit I'm not the girliest girl in the world but liking sport is not a man-only privilege. I don't just like sport, I love sport, I pretty much live and breathe sport. All day er'ryday.



Ever since I can remember, I've always been interested in sports, thanks to my dad. In school, as well as dancing nearly every night of the week, I stayed behind to play sports. If there was a sports club in primary school, I was there, as long as it didn't conflict with my dancing three nights a week. I played cricket, badminton, hockey, ran cross country, did step aerobics; I just loved being active and being part of a team. As much as I loved playing sport, I loved watching it too. My dad got me supporting Arsenal properly from the age of about 7 and rugby league and my beloved Hull FC soon followed.

When I got to secondary school, my dancing kind of took over my life. I was going four weekday nights for several hours at a time and still managed to make netball practice once a week after school. Once I gradually left dance, I still played netball for a while but eventually it fizzled out.

Throughout college and university, I was still active but found it easier to join a gym and join the performing arts society than it was to join a sports team with a busy schedule. Just because I participated less, it increased my love in watching sports.

I remember my first Olympics was Sydney 2000. I was only 7 at the time but I remember being in awe of the athletes being world class and it being such an achievement for them to have even made it to the Olympics, regardless of if they won a medal or not.


When I turned 11, I decided I wanted to be a journalist when I grew up. I enjoyed writing about a variety of topics but when I got to college, I fell in love with the idea of sports journalism. Being able to watch sports and write about them all whilst getting paid would be a dream come true. When I first mentioned this to my dad (the man who got me into sports), he was proud but anxious. The world of journalism is cut-throat but there are definitely a lack of female sports reporters out there. He told me to be prepared for people to underestimate me.

Now I am nearly qualified in journalism (I need to resit a couple of exams), the dream of sports journalism still lights a fire in my belly. Although I have yet to really jump in at the deep end with it, I have written some sports articles for a couple of websites and have already had a few negative comments. I try not to write opinion pieces as I'd rather establish myself as a writer first but even the news pieces I've done, people have criticised them. The most common one is "you're a women, what do you know about sport?" In fact, I know a lot. I'm no expert but I know the basics of many sports and have an in-depth knowledge of the ones I watch the most (rugby league, golf and speedway).

These comments will be something that I will have to live with for my entire career. Currently, I take them with a pinch of salt. I know that I know my stuff (but will happily admit I am wrong if I am!) and know a lot more than many men who think they do.

I want to also point out that this is not all men. All men who watch sports are not rude to women who watch sports. Many have been very supportive of my love of sports and many are intimidated that I know more than they do (here's looking at you, most guys from my past!). Genuinely, you won't find many women out there who know as much about rugby league as I do; I do my research and I know the rules. To say that I don't know my stuff is insulting to me.

This also applies to women participating in sport too. As the Olympics is currently on, I've noticed the amount of animosity towards women athletes, ranging from their hair, their body type to their dress code. The focus should be on their athletic ability, not what they should or shouldn't look like. These women are at the top of their game and have qualified fair and square, just like men have. Women athletes, to me, should be the sort of role models that young girls look up to. Jessica Ennis-Hill, Serena Williams, Laura Trott, Aly Raisman, Katie Ledecky, Katharine Grainger, the women's hockey/rugby seven's teams. Pretty much any female athlete in the sport a sport you enjoy.

For me personally, I love Nicola Adams, Team GB boxer; she's competing in such a male dominated sport and is the current Olympic champion from London. She also currently holds the World, European and Commonwealth titles in the flyweight division. She is a phenomenal athlete that has worked hard to get to the very top of her sport. She also seems like a really lovely, approachable women and definitely someone I'd love to be friends with!

I'd love for one day for female sports athletes/journalists/presenters/coaches etc to be fully accepted. I know that sometimes the rules are different (women play shorter tennis matches, women only compete in 4 gymnastic events to the men's 6, women do heptathlon whilst men do decathlon); however this is not the athletes' fault. Generally, women have to work even harder to be taken seriously in the sports industry to show they are not just a pretty face for the cameras. Isn't it about time we started talking about women in sport and their achievements rather than the length of their skirts?
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