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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea