I have 29 sports channels. And the only women are in leotards

Harriet Walker was riled by the men-only list for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. But remote in hand, she soon found out why...

The upper hundreds of the remote control are alien to me, between the films and the evangelical preachers.

But after the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year threw up its male-only shortlist, and those newspapers and magazines involved with the nominations attempted to shore up their assertions that no sportswomen have made the grade this year, I began to wonder what exactly goes on between One Man and His Dog and The God Channel.

I'm at home with a broken leg and I didn't think my eyes could get any more square. But after a full day searching for a female presence on 29 sports channels, they were practically out on stalks. It's little wonder no-one sees fit to nominate sporting females because there's no chance to acquaint oneself with any of their number. The closest I came to a high-ranking sportswoman was a Madame Tussauds segment on This Morning, where European heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis tweeted Philip Schofield to ask if he'd kiss her waxwork's relentlessly beaming face.

I appreciate that the finest sporting achievements are not to be found on a channel called "Extreme" at 11am but there are plenty of other stations devoted to playing and re-playing sporting highlights from mainstream events. For one programme, the listings simply read "Football, Football, Football, Futbol". I've never heard of the latter, but I assume it's a regional variation played in Scotland. Elsewhere I can watch cricket, motor racing, horse racing and golf. I can even watch a biathlon event in which Norwegian men stagger uphill on skis like Tina Turner and then stop to shoot things. It goes on all night too, with re-runs, and analytics and montages and screenings of former glories. A Manchester United win from 1971 happily straddled the 3pm until teatime lag-time; the Ashes 1981 took up all morning. It's really saying something if women's sport is so bad or boring or non-existent that we should have to watch fuzzy, badly coiffed footballers kicking something from 40 years ago.

Does the prevailing hegemony decree that female sports are not interesting enough for TV? Is it because women don't watch sport? Is it because there are simply fewer events and therefore less to show? Given the abstruse nature of the televised sports coverage that I encountered, then this last shouldn't be too much of a problem. I sat through the Carp Angling Championships after all (It was the men's event, I should point out, because there's no such thing as a women's event.) "It was a real gripper last year," gurns the presenter, "and this year will be no different."

Several hours later, I came across my first fully fledged female sporting event: a triathlon in Mexico edited down to 10 minutes, so that there was more time for the football that came on next. Later, a women's biathlon dominated by some Swedish blondes urged on by patriotic, screaming crowds. Swimmer Rebecca Adlington won world championship gold this year; taekwondo athlete Sarah Stevenson claimed her third world title. Four British cyclists won World Cup team pursuit track gold in the small hours of yesterday morning. Are none of these women interesting enough? Imagine the BBC's nominations list with no ethnic minorities on it. The fact is, the BBC's award relies on popular choice, not specialist didacticism. As we see on X Factor, it isn't always those you expect who win; people like a story. How will women in sport ever get the publicity they deserve if they are not represented on this list? TV certainly won't make them household names.

I also managed to fit in figure skating, which was certainly the most entertaining thing I watched all day. After that, Aerobics Oz Style, which is not women's sport per se but was the only thing to feature one in a role beyond presenter or clothes horse. These were just the opposite in fact: in all my years of doing aerobics with other women – be they students, high-powered execs or mums – I have never seen anyone practise in so few clothes and so much make-up. After a rigorous half-hour work-out, which promised to "recruit my abdominal muscles" (you'll need a city headhunter to do that) and several fortuitous down-top camera angles, it was back to the angling which, as predicted, was a real gripper.

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing