The Commonwealth Games have arrived! For 11 days the greatest athletes from across the Commonwealth (an association of sovereign states that the British Empire once claimed as their own with no real authority to do so) will run, jump, swim, cycle, netball and lawn bowls their way to greatness (To clarify, there are many other sports happening at the games too, the full list can be found here). It’s also another chance for female athletes to prove their skill, strength and sporting prowess to the world and hopefully claim the column inches of the sports section that they deserve.
There’s obviously been pre-games build up in the papers, with interviews, features and articles about some of this fair British isles’ biggest medal hopes. Up until Monday when she had to pull out of the games due to a foot injury, Heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson was England’s golden hope for these Games. With no JEnnis-Hill and a blinding season so far, KJT looked set to lead the field and possibly top the podium and so it made sense that The Sunday Times would run an interview with her. I know the phrase is bandied about all over the shop all the time, however with personality, skill and the determination to become a gold medal winner KJT is a pretty good role model for young women and so makes for a great interview subject. However, she is also a professional athlete. So why, oh why did The ST decide that an American-Beauty-esque-meet-English-Rose accompanying photo would be a good idea?
Firstly, this makes no sense. If they were going for an American Beauty type image, then why? It’s a film about a man who is having such an epically huge midlife crisis he develops an infatuation with his teenage daughter’s best friend. How does this relate to a heptathlon? Or winning gold medals? Or even winning at all as it really doesn’t end well for Kevin Spacey. AND America isn’t even part of the Commonwealth. But more importantly, have any of the male athletes be made to also pose in such a way?
Yes, sports women need more media coverage, but they also need to be taken seriously. How many of the male medal hopefuls would be asked to bed down amongst some flowers for a photoshoot to accompany an article about how they’re going to smash the competition out the park ? Or dress up as Britannian herself a la Victoria Pendleton before London 2012? (I’m aware there’s a lot of questions be asked in this post but I’m proving a point) Yes KJT agreed to it, but she shouldn’t have been asked.
Image from thesundaytimes.co.uk (thanks)