We need to make women’s sport even more visible

HAS As it is not a day of glory for French sport, Sunday 31 July will remain a day of hope for the arrival of women’s sport. The arrival of the Women’s Tour de France and the Women’s Football Euro final, won by the England team, mark a series in which women’s visibility in sport has reached a new level. Attractiveness of the show, progress of performances, presence in the media: all indicators point in the right direction, that of a women’s sport that can express itself beyond the shackles in which some wanted to imprison it.

“Sport has to have an aesthetic side, if you take away the aesthetic side of sport, it loses 50%. You, you are ugly! » For example, in 1987 cyclist Marc Madiot spoke of the pinnacle of his two titles in the Paris-Roubaix race to Jeannie Longo, who in her career will have been a thirteen-time world champion, three-time winner of the Tour de France and Olympic champion.

In recent days, the scene, taken from a program broadcast after a stage of the Tour de France, has been circulated on social networks, causing embarrassment, anger, bewilderment and no doubt also in a small minority a certain nostalgia. “I love women too much to see them suffer”added Madiot in a final argument of a diatribe he only recently regretted.

Volunteer work

A few months ago, former presidential candidate Eric Zemmour said without shame about female football players: “I don’t forbid them to play football, but it’s not football anymore.” Misogyny raised to the rank of arbiter of the elegance of a discipline that would have been created exclusively for men.

In cycling, it took thirty-three years for Amaury Sport Organization and a handful of sponsors to revive the idea of ​​a women’s Tour de France. If the public isn’t there yet, we must celebrate the voluntarism of the audiovisual public service, which, by broadcasting live each of the eight stages of the competition, has helped to break through the invisibility of women’s sport, where society is already too long adjusted.

Also read: Tour de France Women 2022: a popular and sporting success to be confirmed and refined

A 2019 study by Purdue University, Indiana, found that sportswomen’s television coverage in the United States accounted for just 5.4% of all airtime, barely more than 30 years ago (5.1%). And yet these numbers remain misleading, because between two major competitions, such as the Women’s World Cup or the Olympics, sportswomen are doomed to return to near-total anonymity.

Everyone should realize that the media representation of sports and athletes, more or less consciously, can contribute to the construction of sexist stereotypes that operate far beyond the sports field. Apart from the low frequency of broadcasts, coverage of women’s disciplines is still too often limited to the appearance, age or family life of athletes, while for men the achievements are more valued.

The areas for advancement in women’s sport remain immense. Whether it be the promotion of sport from an early age, the demand for equal pay, professionalization perceived as a virtuous driver of the attractiveness of the spectacle, or even the evolution of governing bodies that are still too masculine, sport must be aligned with the values ​​it upholds. He must make an indispensable contribution to the harmony of society.

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