Can you promote yourself as a female athlete without selling yourself?

It’s no secret that millennials take social media very seriously. But nowadays professional athletes have a duty of care in the way they promote themselves via social media.
Athletes use platforms such as Instagram or Facebook to boost their image and share their stories, making them more attractive to brands, sponsors and viewers; not to mention bringing in extra dollars and credibility into the world of athletics along the way. Some athletes choose to do this with humility while others choose to use their physical appearance to attract an audience, rather than their athletic ability.
At the recent Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, Hawaiian John Florence won a prize of USD$100,000. This came after Sally Fitzgibbons earned her 1st place winnings of USD$60,000 the day before. Both athletes surfed the same break, within the same conditions, at the same time. The discrepancies do not stop there. According to the most current Forbes The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes List the top 39 paid athletes in the world, are ALL men. With Serena Williams being the only female athlete in the top 87 of the list, coming in at #40.
Does this infuriate yourself, like it does the women reading this discovery? This begs the question: Why are female athletes less valued then their male counterparts? In almost every professional sport. Sexualisation, plays a big part.
Some women may feel the pressure because they are not receiving equal pay to men in the same sport. This can result in no longer viewing athletic achievement as a priority and distorts the perception of the female athlete, who then may choose then to use their appearance to gain social media presence and become more influential. This in turn allows them to earn more in endorsements and sponsorships, than relying on their performance in their chosen field.

Comparing social media statistics between the current #1 and 5-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore’s 466K Instagram followers, Alana Blanchard’s impressive 1.8 million followers, and Ellie Jean Coffee’s strong 784k followers. Why does Blanchard and Coffee’s popularity far exceed Gilmore’s? Maybe because the two are notorious for their faces seen in every Rip Curl or Billabong campaign (respectively) as well as their Instagram filled with selfies in glamorous, tropical locations. Yet neither compete on the WSL tour, placing a long way past 100th in the rankings, or are nearly as athletically gifted as Gilmore. A quick scroll through their feeds and you’ll notice a big difference, in comparing the current world champion, who’s feed showcases videos of her recent tubes and training sessions, the others choose to showcase the latest bikinis, captured at a strategic angle.

www.instagram.com/stephaniegilmore

 

www.instagram.com/elliejeancoffey

“Some girls are definitely self-sexualizing, they know what the market is and what gets the best response. In the culture of surfing, sex sells. They’re making a lot of money out of it.” Scott Atheron, Surf Coach, Manly Surf School.

This doesn’t apply to surfing alone. The current fastest women in the world, is Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica. After winning an Olympic Games in 2012 and being the current reigning world 100m champion, you think she would be a household name? With only 211k Instagram followers to her name, the world’s fastest female was paid US$60,000 for her world title win in 2015. In comparison to Mr Usain Bolt, undoubtedly the world most successful sprinter and known to almost all people who own a television, around the world. He attains 6.7Million Instagram followers, is number 32 on Forbes Highest-Paid Athletes list and for the same race, at the same championships was paid US -$120,000 for his 2015 World Title, in comparison to Shelly-Ann’s $60K.

This necessity for over exposure, it seems, is growing the gap for women in sport. Tim Wigmore, of NewStatemen Sport, has this to say about the matter. ‘’The roots of this discrepancy lie in the birth of modern sport, 150 years ago. Women’s treatment in sport has always been a manifestation of wider gender inequality and, as sports evolved and professionalised, became self-perpetuating. The huge funding disparity between male and female sport means that women have had fewer opportunities to play sport, have suffered from inadequate coaching and facilities compared with those enjoyed by men, and have been paid meagre sums, even for playing international sport. This has damaged the quality of sport.’’ 

 We are left with the issue , in this social media, millennial world, if women want to cover that gap, they must be perceived, first and foremost, as athletes and not as Instagram models. If sexuality is the main qualifier for popularity in women’s professional sport, then women’s sport will not be seen for what it is; a sport, rather than a glorified modelling industry.

Interview and Slideshow

I decided to interview a very interesting man names Sundesh, from gym I train at following my technical glitch and got a great insight into how he firstly, migrated to Australia in search of asylum during a political coo, in Fiji during the late 1980’s in which he was a radio journalist himself.

Sundesh was captured by military and explained he was hung by the arms for three days straight, in punishment of reporting on what was going on in Fiji. He decided to flee his country, and sought help from a politician in Australia. He was able to secure residency and relocated after three months of correspondence.
Sundesh, went on to explain how he now thinks of Australia as home. And a country who provide him and his family safety, food and a sense of belonging during a time of need.
Sundesh explained he trained at the gym, we were currently at during his relocation to Sydney. But then went on to travel 127 countries in search of a story to write a book upon.

He is now 74 years old, and has found himself back at the same gym he trained at all those years ago. Vince and Roz’s gym is one of Australia’s longest running gyms, having been operating at various locations around Sydney since 1953.
Sundesh explained that having broken his back during his travels in New Zealand, physical therapy was the only thing that has made him as mobile as he is now.
He is happy to be back at his old training ground, having re-joined the gym Just two weeks ago.

This is what he had this to share with us, about his triumph over serious injury.

Women in a Wruck

Saturday November 12th, 36 Degrees, 4 Games of Rugby Union and a team of strong women, you wouldn’t want to mess with.

Sydney University Women’s Rugby 7s team, took to Campbelltown Showground in the annual ‘Harlequin 7s Tournament’ for the year. The stakes were high with a $2000 cash prize on offer, for the team to take out the five-game-tournament on the day.

Rugby 7s, is a modified traditional Rugby Union game. It only last seven minute halves, with a 30 second break for half time. The name also resonates with the fact there are only seven players, per side on the field at one time. Because of these changes, there are also changes to wrucks, scrums and how many people per tackle to ‘clear out.’ It is a much faster, more cardiovascular based game and some might say, much more entertaining

Sydney Uni were off to a fine start, with both their A and B teams taking out their first matches. The heat, the tackles and the Bindi patches soon took their toll on the women, as they both lost their second games.

For spectators, it was an exciting and impressive day of Rugby. The Women’s side had both NSW Samoa and NSW Fiji teams take the field. And the men had both an Australian 7s team and Australia Fiji team, dominate their side.

Eventually is was the Sydney Uni A team, victorious through to the semi-final match, only one game between them and the championship game. After a good start up 1 try on the Campbelltown Harlequins, Uni went down in an exciting match 1-5.

Every athlete who took the field should be commended on their perseverance, their effort and enthusiasm as players clearly left everything on the field this tournament. Next championship isn’t scheduled until February 2017. For more information about how to become a Rugby 7s player for Sydney University, please visit:  https://www.susf.com.au/

Body Building a Legitimate Career.

I’ve been curious about the hard-core world of body building since the first time I saw my Dad practicing a ‘’Double-bicep’’ pose in the mirror. He was an amateur body builder in his glory days and finds great joy in telling me his stories of competition journey, the different equipment they would use back then and his brief moment of fame, in shaking hands with the Greatest of All Time, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The world and the sport have both progressed, since Dad’s hay-day and I took the time to sit down with an up and coming body builder from Anytime Fitness Macquarie Park, John. John explained he has been a body builder since his early twenties and at twenty seven years of age, he hasn’t looked back. He firstly begun lifting weights to gains size for his chosen sport, Martial Arts. But then soon, found a passion for growing muscle and the rest was history.

When asking him about what he has gained from his competitive body building career he begun by saying ‘’you gain your first essence of control.’’ ‘’You find your limits, and you develop mental toughness.’’ That’s some very interesting knowledge, shared by someone with the mental drive, to purposely dehydrate themselves 24 hours before stepping on the stage for a body building competition. The athletes do this to ensure they look most vascular on stage. Which is one of the three categories they are judged on, along with Symmetry and conditioning.

John shared that he has met some interesting characters, during his time training 6 days a week twice a day; on his body building journey. We discussed the temptation involved within the sport to make it easier for himself: performance enhancers. Many others competitors, just like John choose to inject themselves with performance enhancing stimulants such as testosterone or human growth hormone. This is legal in some categories of body building, but John remains ‘’All Natural’’ competing in the ANB (Australian Natural Body Building) category. He is constantly on a strict diet, but not the typical athlete’s diet that you’d think. John indulges in a high-protein high-carbohydrate loaded meal plan, with the goal to eat six times a day! This is to maintain his impressive triple figure scale weight. Because John trains so vigorously, he maintains his muscular physique rather than putting on weight around his waistline.

John went on to explain it is an ‘’ongoing triumph,’’ to maintain size. As he works as a laborer during the day, it can be easy for him to lose weight, unintentionally. ‘’I’ve got to remember to eat someday,’’ he jokingly explained, of his demanding physical lifestyle. Most body builders are fortunate to make preparing for a competition their full-time job. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for John, whose work demands a nine-hour day, sometimes six days a week.

John had some great final advice to give to young athletes, desiring to make body building career of their own: ‘’Leave your ego at the door, constantly challenge yourself, do not think. Act.’’ Sounds easier than it looks to us.
If you or someone you know is interested in embarking on their own muscular-growth journey, you can find out more by visiting: http://www.anb.com.au