i Editor's Letter: Coverage of female sports


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The Independent Online


This is an Autumn Statement-free zone. But, hopefully, you will learn all you need to know, with analysis from Hamish McRae, Andrew Grice and others.

In short, we are even more in the s*** than was forecast previously. I’d like a job as an economic forecaster. There seems to be even less comeback when you get your forecasts wrong than if you were, let’s say, a columnist.

A far more important matter has seen debate rage around the i office: the dearth of women on the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year 2011 shortlist. Seeing as these names are nominated by the sports desks of the nation’s newspapers, (i’s too)we share some responsibility (see p45).

We know that in the great scheme of things it doesn’t really matter who wins. You may even struggle to recall who did so last year (the jockey, Tony McCoy). But improved promotion of female sport does matter — at least to i—and not just because the Olympics are almost upon us.

We receive a steady, if light, trickle of emails taking us to task over our (lack of) coverage of female sports. Of course I would defend that coverage, but deep down we all know we could do better. So, who should be on the list in place of, say,Andy Murray? Yes, there are worthy candidates in sports where we have world champions such as Taekwondo (Sarah Stevenson) and rowing (Kath Grainger). But the BBC award is for Sports Personality and the winner should, by definition, be known to a wide audience, probably in a major sport — unless she herself has brought the sport to a wider audience.

The swimmers Keri-Anne Payne and Rebecca Adlington might fit the bill, but there is one woman that stands above all of them in my view: the awesome four-time World Ironman triathlon champion Chrisse Wellington. Google her. That’ s what I think, what about you?