I park run. I don’t say that for any kudos, but it’s something I enjoy and it gets me out of the house on a Saturday morning. This weekend, however, something amazing nearly happened.
One of the female runners not only smashed the (ladies) course record but came second overall, only eight seconds behind the first place runner. Halfway round I felt like stopping, just to watch the end of the race.
This has been an outstanding year for female sport. The football team reached the World Cup semi-finals (again), the netballers reached their own semi-final and the cricket team fiercely contested the Ashes even though they were outgunned all the way by a far superior team.
But what has marked all these results apart this year is the disappointment felt in each of these respective failures. The TV audiences for the Women’s World Cup were astonishing, and the palpable message frrom the red tops as the Lionnesses failed was one of missed opportunity and widespread disappointment. This in itself marks a huge step forward in the reocgnition of women’s sport that they are now subject to the same levels of expectation as the men’s teams.
I prefer watching women’s hockey; the pace is slightly slower meaning it is easier to see the ball, but without losing any of the skill levels. Friends of mine prefer taking their children to watch the Women’s Premier League as the crowds are more appreciative (and less tribal) and the football less cynical.
But it seems remarkable that is has taken until now for our national women’s sports to be seen as equal to men’s sports. The top players across all forms make huge sacrifices (and in the women’s field probably far more given the fact with the lack of funding most have to have a “second” job) and should be accorded the same level of respect. The best players, like the best employees, are the best because of what they can achieve and can do, and has nothing to do with their respective sex.
It’s an odd world where true equality is measured in terms of disappointment though…….