I recently called out Women’s Health on their use of naked models at the I Support Women in Sport Awards. That article was the top sports article on the Guardian in Australia for two days.
Righteous indignation is great isn’t it? You get to climb up on your moral high horse and have feelpinions (Opinions! With Feelings!) on a topic you’re both knowledgeable about AND care about.
While I really want to feel like I’m making a difference, the REAL question is: will all that attention on yet another injustice done to women in sport lead to more bums on seats?
In a word, no.
If we had an attendee at a game for every view, every tweet, every comment, every share of that article, we wouldn’t have a problem. And I could just get on with enjoying sport instead of raving to you all about it.
So, what can we do to get people out from behind their computer, off the couch and down to their nearest women’s sport event?
Women’s Sport Needs to Entertain
The same principles apply to fan engagement across both women’s and men’s sport – it needs to be entertaining, engaging, tribal, and drive fan passion. So I think it is important not to try and pretend it is something it is not – stick to the established principles of sports marketing.
Anthony Everard – League Manager, T20 Big Bash
Roller Derby is a great example of a sport that appeals to people in creative ways. The bout become events – with music, market stalls, a party atmosphere. Men having been going to watch men’s sports for so long; it’s a familiar tradition. Women’s sports doesn’t have that history, sadly, so organisers could think outside the box to draw in crowds in new ways. We don’t have to make it work to the same model as men’s sports. Look at the sports women go to the most in groups, such as the races and derby, and see what ideas can be taken from those sports. There’s no shame in bringing in audiences with gimmicks, parties or events, because once they’re fans you won’t need those things anymore.
@DanielleWarby make it an entertainment event rather than ‘just a game’ – lots of breaks during game to be filled. Seattle Storm do it well
— Jodie Skellern (@Jodie3735) October 26, 2014
Make Sportswomen Famous
The media is essential to creating personalities that drive an interest. Sporting codes will have to “pick winners” and drive a media strategy.
Patricia Forsythe – Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber
Profile more female athletes in the media, especially on television, as knowledge of outstanding athlete achievements will increase interest.
Helen Brownlee – Vice President, Australian Olympic Committee
@DanielleWarby seize your characters and stand them out front. Kim Mickle is a gr8 example. Great talent and even better personality. — Damien Stannard (@dstanno) October 26, 2014
More Women’s Sport on TV!
Showcase women’s sport on prime time, free to air and pay tv. People WILL watch it. This will allow the sport to attract greater sponsorship support, which will flow on to better pay and facilities for women and also attract international athletes to help boost the level of competition. We already see this with netball’s ANZ Championship following support from both Fox Sports and SBS.
Tiffany Cherry – Sports Broadcaster
Remove the Barriers to Supporting Women in Sport
And once we convince people to become fans, for the love of sport, make it easy for them!
To get our Sydney Uni Flames season pass last year we had to download a PDF, fill it in, scan it, fax it back and then still have someone call us. To get supporter singlets, the lovely team captain had to fossick around in their old uniforms for us.
“The path to purchase is more complicated than most people can be bothered with. Mix that with a lack of excitement in the stands and you don’t have much to attract regular folk are aren’t crazy for the sports.
Women in Sport Conference
This week, the Asia Pacific World Sport and Women conference will be held in Sydney where Anthony Everard, Patricia Forsythe, Helen Brownlee and Tiffany Cherry will expand upon these themes.
Want to Join in the Conversation?
- Follow all the speakers and attendees via my APWSW Twitter list.
- Follow the conference @APWSW.
- Follow (and use!) the hashtag: #APWSW
We need to watch the advice to follow what established sports do. Sports that have been traditionally promoted as “men’s sports” are in panic mode to get people back to the grounds after an over-focus on TV. The women’s side of the equation are just building a following. Those are two entirely different imperatives.
The game – the contest – needs to be “sold” first doesn’t it?
We should be careful also in choosing our friends. Mansport doesn’t want competition. It’s struggling. Just listen to much of the commentary of women’s sport by men who are former players and you’ll get the drift.
Thirdly, a large part of selling men’s sport is about sex and sexuality. So what do we do about that in promoting women’s sport? Embrace and sell the diversity of this community along with the skill and thrill of the contest. We’re going to have to be gutsy. XO sisters!