Headline August01, 2014


MARIA SHARAPOVA is one very, very beautiful athlete. Last year, her shoulder injury stopped her playing in the US open tennis tournament, much to the disappointment of her millions of fans.

Not that she needs the prize money. She is the highest-paid female athlete in the world. To earn in excess of $30 million a year is very normal.

Women golfers and figure-skaters do well too. But others don't. While sport has gained a huge clout and wealth. The global industry is now worth up to $620 billion according to a study by A.T.Kearney, a consultancy.

And while women's participation has risen sharply men still fare far, far better.

The number of  ''girls''  participating in American high-school athletics, for example has jumped to  3.2m from  300,000  in  1972, when a clause in an education bill called:

Title IX enshrined equal opportunities for students of both sexes, including in sports. The Tucker Centre at the University of Minnesota, which studies women in sport, says  40%  of American athletic participants are female.

But they receive less than  5%  of all media   and only  1.62%  of sporting airtime on big networks. In 2004-2009 they comprised just  3.6%  of the covers of ESPN  The Magazine, a journal produced by a big sports media outlet.

Belatedly, this is beginning to change: women are breaking through in sports where physical strength and speed matter less or not at all.

Even in muscular games such as football and rugby, they are seeing silvers of the action, the glory  -and the financial rewards.

In February last year, a lap taken at 196mph gained Danica Patrick, a pole position in part of the NASCAR Spirit Cup series  -the first woman to do so, in sport dominated by men.

She won  $6m  in 2012 plus  $9m in sponsorship deals; ESPN The Magazine put her on its cover. That highlights a big advantage for women: once they gain initial recognition, glamour can kick in.

Ms Patrick has appeared in  a record 12 ads in the past seven years for the Super Bowl, American Football's championship game.

At the International level, women have never done better. London  2012  was the first Olympic games with at least nominal female participation from every country, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Brunei.

America's investment in its women athletes have paid off: they won more medals than their male teammates. Viewers paid attention.

South Africa's most-watched event was a women's football match against Sweden, and a peak British audience of  3.9m  tuned in to watch the national women's football team beat Brazil.  

Such success helps bring better media coverage, and all the benefits that come in its wake. In August last, BT Sport, a British Television channel, started showing matches from the Football's Association's Women's Super League, launched in 2011.

Women's football is the fourth-largest team sport in England, measured by participation  (after men's football, rugby and cricket).

The country's female cricketer's recently beat Australia in the women's Ashes, and three of the shorter matches in the series were shown on Sky Sports, Britain's main satellite channel.

These changes are altering the culture of sport. Old-fashioned attitudes are beginning to look indefensible.

Sir Sterling Moss  a Formula One champion, once doubted whether women had the   ''mental aptitude''  for motor racing.

Sepp Blatter, president of  FIFA, the governing body of world football, expressed a wish in  2004  for  female players to compete in  ''more feminine garb'',  suggesting they wear  ''tighter shorts''.

Glamour and  sizzle do help women sports women build their brand. This can be strikingly unfair.

Marion Bartoli won the women's tennis championship at Wimbledon amid scalding criticism of her looks.

Ms Patrick,  the NASCAR star,  has turned down offers to pose naked. Such pressure annoys those who think sports-women should be famed for their prowess, not their sex appeal.

It may backfire too.

Research conducted by Mary Jo Kane, a sport sociologist, and colleagues, suggests that sexualised images of female athletes turn off women and older men and so  ''alienate a core fan base".

Males ages  18-34  killed them  but for other reasons.  

In the Commonwealth games, one female student boxer and participant, arrived with just a track suit and zero money.

So, in the poor countries and the developing world, the girls have a long, long way to go. But to keep moving forward, is a sure must!

The Honour and Serving of the Post continues. Thank you for reading and don't miss the second part. 

With respectful and caring dedication to all the female athletes and students of the world. See Ya  all  on  !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

'' Never Giving Up "'

Good night and God bless!

SAM Daily Times - The Voice of the Voiceless


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