Kevin Garside: If Steve Davis wonders why women don't play snooker, he should ask why they would walk into a windowless 'palazzo' on some trading estate

In golf the big idea is: bring the wife and kids and let's grow the game together

To laugh or cry? That was the dilemma presented to us by poor, old Steve Davis, who snookered himself behind the question of women and sport with his inane prattle. Something to do with the hard-wiring of the species, he argued, prevents women from potting balls with the same lethal force as men. They are neither single minded nor obsessive enough, he claimed in his Crucible excursus.

This kind of nonsense pops up whenever pundits stray from their specialist subject. By all means deconstruct the shot Steve, but leave brain function to the neuroscientists. Even they struggle to evaluate the weight of what nature gives us against the power of the environment to shape outcomes. Though masculine and feminine characteristics in the make-up of the brain appear to be identifiable, their significance is not so easy to quantify.

Neither is snooker the most obvious territory to roll out this kind of sporting prejudice against women. The "women are not the equal of men" stuff is indubitable in matters of physical endeavour. In areas like running, throwing, lifting, jumping, shoving, etc, women are simply not equipped with the corporeal wherewithal to compete against men. But snooker, a discipline that relies on the ability to deliver a cue to a ball in a straight line? What does that have to do with musculature? Greater strength does not confer any advantage on the baize since technique, not power, is the differentiator.

If Davis really wants to understand why women do not excel in the sport he need only look at the grass roots experience, the environment in which the game is played. Where is the incentive for any girl or young woman to walk into a windowless 'palazzo' tucked away on some trading estate or other? The sign above the door hardly says welcome to our world. The message spells out that new members are invited but the culture says women are not.

The appeal to science to explain the inability of women to compete at the highest level of the sport might start not with faux neuroscience but numbers. There are simply not enough of them taking part at the base of the pyramid. Women have not been encouraged to smash the cultural bar imposed by history. Snooker is simply invisible to them.

The only woman seen on television at the Crucible this past fortnight, Michaela Tabb, is employed to replace the balls, not pot them. Worse still, her association with snooker is sexualised in the form of posed pictures projecting her cleavage not female engagement. The appeal is once again to men not women.

Motorsport is beset by the same difficulty. Women appear partially clothed on the grid, eroticised adjuncts marking grid positions instead of occupying them. A physical argument is often forwarded to explain the exclusion of women from Formula One, g-forces experienced through corners being too great for women to bear and such-like prate. If that were the case Danica Patrick would not have been able to establish a career in Indycar racing and subsequently Nascar in the United States.

Patrick stands no more that 5ft 2ins and is barely seven and a half stones wet through. If she can handle a car pulling 4g-plus through a high speed turn, any woman can. That more do not is a result of the same cultural disincentive that keeps them out of snooker halls. There are too few female role models encouraging involvement.

Rather than perpetuate potty myths, Davis would better serve the sport he loves by encouraging women to take part. In so doing he might get more men through the door, too. Clubs are disappearing as participation figures fall. In golf, where the last knockings of prejudice are about to fall as men-only clubs reconsider their positions regarding female membership, the big idea is to make clubs not only female friendly but family sensitive too. Bring the wife and kids, let's grow the game together in a way that reflects how we organise and manage our lives.

As things stand why would women want to imbibe the snooker hall nimbus created by senescent blokes replete with pot bellies and balding pates? Someone with a brain in the vanguard of the sport ought to switch on the lights. What better way to engage kids in simple arithmetic and geometry than letting them lose on mini tables while the adults attack Pythagorean problems at the big table next door?

There is about potting balls a compulsion that appeals to all human kind. It is weirdly seductive. Hours disappear at a rate that suggests the suspension of time and it does not favour the left or right side of the brain. A brain of any kind will do. The only requirement is to engage it. What an irony that atop the trophy contested by Ronnie O'Sullivan and Mark Selby today sits the figurine of a woman. Ha, smirks womankind.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

EYFS Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education require an ex...

Year 3 Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 primary supply teacher ne...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

Regional ESF Contract Manager

£32500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Birmingham: European Social Fund...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home