Female Athletes in an Australian Setting

Australian Rules Football, (AFL) a game which has been played for over one hundred years in Australia. Born out of Melbourne in the late 1850’s. John Northey, of Swooper Coach suggests that today’s game is controlled by the corporate dollar, with the 18 team strong league, many clubs fight to increase profits. It allows participation at all levels able to be played by all levels of physicality, children both male and female, as young as six right through to veterans playing a modified game called Super Rules. AFL Community Club, 2017 says that AFL is becoming the sport of choice for diverse communities, and is one of the most multicultural in terms of participation levels, that the Australian sporting landscape offers.  It was also reported by AFL Community Club, that up to 25% of current AFL lists are from diverse backgrounds (11% Indigenous Australians and 14% Multicultural Australians). There are programs which are also enabling young talent identification and giving more opportunities to future players.

When analysing AFL and the introduction of the Women’s League, for the first time in history this 2016/2017 season, it’s important to be mindful that AFL need to keep pushing for equality and have the support behind it. As long as the women are playing the same game, they deserve the right to be paid equally. This was compared to Australian Surfing and then compared to Track and Field’s place in Australia. The following resonates across all three sports in Australian society, that females are being represented as a ‘Female Athlete’ rather than simply ‘Athlete,’ like their male counterparts.

Firstly, analysing Australian Rules football,(AFL) and exploring current topics with the introduction of the Women’s league reveals that the AFL has a large pay gap between men and women professional AFL players. But Is the sport really doing enough to bridge that gap so women unlike men, must work alongside their professional football career in order to make a living? Recently ABC online provided statistics showing that female players are being paid 125 times less than their male counterparts. It was also made apparent in the AFLW’s annual report that an entire women’s AFL team cost less that an individual average male player.

To gain an insight, AFL mega fan Clare, was interviewed. She has this to say on the issue: ‘’ With it being such a massive thing firstly, to the women in the AFL league, I think they’re doing a fantastic job this season, with the introduction of women. However, there’s still a long way to go for women to have the same opportunities as men do.’’

With so much exposure and fans barracking for their favourite teams, it would make sense that football would be a full-time job for the female athletes, like the men? Think again. The top two players of each team will get about $25,000 for the season, and then $10,000 for high profile players, and $5,000 for everyone else, for an eight-week season. All are expected to train about nine hours per week, plus pre-season. This seems incompatible with an average male player who earns just over $300,000 (ABC.net). This essentially equates to buying an entire women’s team for the cost of a single male player.

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www.instagram.com/erinphillips131 Premiership winner, Best and Fairest and mother to twins. Also plays professional basketball for Australia. But would need a second job to supplement her family if playing AFL alone.

Clare voiced her concerns on this topic by saying, ‘’As a mother of a daughter, I am very excited by the fact that women’s league has been introduced. And by the time she’s old enough, hopefully those years would have provided enough time for it to have developed and become an equal opportunity. ‘’ The problem seems to lie with broadcasting rights to women’s matches, as that’s where the big money lies. It would be expected to take a few years before the broadcasters would pay rights to show women’s footy matches, according to AFL’s general manager of game and market development, Simon Lethlean.

As long as the women are paying the same game, they deserve the rights to be paid equally. Below is what the public had to say:

AFL Fb Poll

AFLTwitter Poll

When it comes to professional female surfers in Australia, there is also a divide between males and females. This begs the question, why are female athletes valued less than their male counterparts? ‘’Viewership,’’ says Scott Atheron, Surf Coach, Manly Surf School, in my group member Andrea Kovszun’s Story entitled: Sex Sells: How Female surf athletes are using social media. ‘’The value in women’s surfing comes from their lifestyle factor, I feel like they are forced to go into bikinis and lifestyle campaigns to subsidies their value as surfers.’’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.

ELLIE

www.instagram.com/elliejeancoffey – Face of Billabong and Roxy Australia, but not in the top 100 surfers in the world.

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. Andy makes a great note in her piece by going on to say ‘’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, rather than their physical achievements and performance it will never be seen for what it is, a professional sport.

This doesn’t apply to surfing alone. When reviewing male and female track athletes there seems to be also a notable discrepancy. 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. For her world title race, she was reportedly paid US$60,000. In comparison to Usain Bolt, undoubtedly the world’s most successful sprinter and is number 32 on Forbes Highest-Paid Athletes list. For the same race, at the same championships as Fraser-Pryce, Bolt was paid an astounding US $120,000.

This is what the public has to say:

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When discussing these surprising facts, with Track and Field guru Mike Hurst, who was a former Daily Telegraph journalist and coach of 1988 400m Mens and Womens Olympic Finalists as well as the current second fastest man in Australia, over 400m, had this to say on the issue of pay equality in Track and Field: ‘’Shelly-Ann Fraser pryce clearly hasn’t spoken up enough. I’m surprised, I thought there was parity in the IAAF World Championships.I think people need to have a voice, I don’t think track and field athletes have a voice.’’

Mike firstly gave his insight on how females are compared to male athletes in Australia by saying: ‘’Are they recognised as being great athletes in their own right? Or are they being forced to portray themselves in bikinis or whatever? I think in Australia track and field athletes are very well respected. I think popularity will come with performance. But there are some people who just don’t resonate with the media. They don’t resonate with the public.’’ To change this and move forward, Mike offered the insight that if women support their own processes, and own campaigners, they will have  a much more powerful lobby, and will be able to achieve much more, like they should do in comparison to their male counterparts at the same level of competitive sport.

Just like Australian surfing, it’s been notable that Australian female track and field athletes feel the pressure that they need to over-sexualise themselves on social media, to be more attainable to potential sponsors. ‘’Followers,’’ and ‘’Likes,’’ has progressively become a trend for these women and a point of conversation, to make them feel esteemed over their competitors. This has nothing to do with performance and does not make sense.  Mike also discussed this issue and whether men have this same pressure, by saying: ‘’I think it works both ways, but not in the way the women do.’’

Moving forward, in order for women to seek equality he said, ‘’There should be a professional athletes association, for Track and Field. There should be one for all sports. And there should be one for Olympians overall. He suggests it’s the athletes and the sports that have got their act together, through strong leadership and not just winging or bullying, that the future is bright for them.He commented on the new structure of the women’s Suncorp Super Netball league. ‘’I think what netball has done is fantastic. However the problem is, you put the product out there, it is not a seller’s market, it is a buyers market. If the public buy the men and not the women, the people who organize the women’s game need to have a very strong look at why it is not being marketed correctly, promoted correctly – the media presence may not be strong enough. They need to do something about it. ‘’

That is the expert opinion. In order for women’s sports, in an Australian male dominated sports society it is important that the athletes keep rallying for change and don’t remain complacent on important issues and seeking quality. They deserve to be seen as professional athletes and not just ‘’female Athletes,’’ as women at the top of their game.

 

Athletes Not ”Female Athletes”

Welcome to The Changing Game podcast! This is where five students take a closer look at the rise of women’s sport and key issues in the female sporting landscape.

In this episode Susannah Walmsley will firstly chat with our special guest Mary K from Ladies Who League. The group will look at key moments in women’s sport from the fans perspective and hear from an amazing panel of women’s sport advocates. The pannel made up of Andy Kovszun,who is Content Producer at Fitzgibbons International, Phil Wishart from the Office of Sport, Susannah Walmsley, a professional basketball player with the Sydney Uni Flames, Stacey Speer hosting the podcast, who is an American football player and works in marketing at Gridiron NSW. And myself, offering perspective an internationally ranked Heptathlete. 

My chosen focus for the podcast was the quote regarding the AFL Women’s league ”AFL need to keep pushing for equality and have the support behind them to make these talented athletes,seen as what they are. Athletes, rather than ‘’Female Athletes. As long as the women are playing the same game, they deserve the rights to be paid equally.” In final editing of the podcast, due to time restraints the team decided to focus my discussion about equal pay as a professional athlete, and athletics in Australia in comparison to USA College Athletics. Rather than the AFL discussion which was made in previous takes.

AFL – Still a Man’s Sport?

This interview explores current topics surrounding Australian rules football with the introduction of the Women’s league for the first time this season. The main research found that the AFL has a large pay gap between men and women’s professional AFL players. The ABC provided the statistics that female players are being paid 125 times less than their male counterparts. The Australian also discussed sexism in the sport. Additional research showed that there was a huge difference for New South Wales and Victorian fans, between what matches were available on free-to-air and cable television stations, as well as additional coverage on news stations, both television and radio, and in local newspapers.

Australian Rules football has had a predominately Victorian fan base within Australian society. The introduction of the Women’s league created exposure nation and world-wide in bridging the quality gap between men’s and women’s professional sports. But the question is, is the AFL really doing enough to bridge that gap so women unlike men, must work alongside their professional football career in order to make a living? Recently ABC online provided statistics showing that female players are being paid 125 times less than their male counterparts. It was also made apparent in the AFLW’s annual report that an entire women’s AFL team cost less that an individual average male player.

To gain an insight, UTS Sports Media spoke to an AFL mega fan Clare in Sydney last week. She has this to say on the issue: ‘’ With it being such a massive thing firstly, to the women in the AFL league, I think they’re doing a fantastic job this season, with the introduction of women. However, there’s still a long way to go for women to have the same opportunities as men do.’’

The Women’s league certainly gained great exposure across the shortened eight-week season, the exhibition match, won by 19 points by the Demons, reached 1.1 million viewers who watched at least five minutes across Channel 7, 7mate and Foxtel. (Footywire.com.au statistics).

With so much exposure and fans barracking for their favourite teams, it would make sense that football would be a full-time job for the female athletes, like the men? Think again. The top two players of each team will get about $25,000 for the season, and then $10,000 for high profile players, and $5,000 for everyone else. You read correctly: These elite athletes will earn merely $5,000 for an eight-week season. All are expected to train about nine hours per week, plus pre-season. This seems incomparable with an average male player who earns just over $300,000 (ABC.net). This essentially equates to buying an entire women’s team for the cost of a single male player. It just doesn’t add up.

Clare voiced her concerns on this topic by saying, ‘’As a mother of a daughter, I am very excited by the fact that women’s league has been introduced. And by the time she’s old enough, hopefully those years would have provided enough time for it to have developed and become an equal opportunity. ‘’ The problem seems to lie with broadcasting rights to women’s matches, as that’s where the big money lies. It would be expected to take a few years before the broadcasters would pay rights to show women’s footy matches, according to AFL’s general manager of game and market development, Simon Lethlean.

As long as the women are paying the same game, they deserve the rights to be paid equally.

Below is what the public had to say:

AFLTwitter Poll

AFL Fb Poll

Athletics Australia Announces Summer 2017 Competition Structure

Australian athletics fans, are in for a delight as Athletics Australia finally announces the competition structure for the 2016/2017 summer season.

There are some major changes to the association’s most anticipated competition: The 2017 Australian Athletics Championships, National titles. Once formally a four-day long event, for both abled-bodied and para-athletes Open aged category athletes.

The decision to combine both junior and senior competition, has created and eight-day long event for next year’s National Titles.

This new structure was designed in conjunction with Athletics Australia’s Member Associations and will be the largest annual athletics event in Australia and the Oceania-Pacific region. With an estimated 3500 Athletes to be competing, next March.

It will bring together participants of all ages in the pursuit of Personal Best’s and national championship medals, to the host city of Sydney, held at Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre.

Another major change to the competition schedule is the ‘’Summer of Aths’’ Grand Prix Event. This is the first time it will be held over two days, hosted by the nation’s capital, at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, ACT.

The aim of this change, was to attract more spectators to the championships. The two-day elite series, will welcome the very best able-bodied and para-athletes as they make final preparations for the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships.

‘’Nitro Athletics’’ is another exciting addition to the calendar. This is something Athletics in Australia has never seen before. It will be a ground-breaking team-based athletics series that will pit the best athletes from across Australia and around the world against each other across three events. More information will be confirmed on the Athletics Australia website, but there is a promise that the Fastest Man in The World, none other than Usain Bolt will be making an appearance, in this new exciting event.

Other smaller, structural changes, to each state and territory were made in this year’s calendar. Predominately including more competition and more elite level competition, with the change to record performance eligible for overseas competition.

For more information on the exciting changes, keep checking Athletics Australia and relevant state and territory associated websites, for updates.

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/