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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Buddy DeFranco
people
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Caption competition
Caption competition
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: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month