Tackling media bias in women’s sports

About a year ago our sister company Dot Loves Data did some research around media bias in sport as it relates to men and women’s sport.

Whilst coverage was improving, the bias remains stark. In recent times you received more media mentions as a male participant, than a female gold medalist. That’s simply not good enough New Zealand sports media. 

So we thought we’d help the conversation along.

We knew the iconic Basin Reserve in Wellington was starved of a sponsor and had been for the last two years. So we asked ourselves – what if we turned the media reporting bias issue into a sponsor?

Turning the Basin Reserve into the “Support Women’s Sport Basin Reserve” by crowdfunding the required monies. Polarising? Yes, absolutely. That’s was the point. 

The broadcaster Martin Devlin said that “…it was quite probably the best and cleverest marketing campaign seen this year”. Nice to hear that of course. He reckoned our goal was to “get people talking”, rather than actually add “Support Women’s Sport” to the front of the Basin Reserve.

Truth be told, he’s right and he’s wrong. We were hopeful that it would be successful and we would have women’s sport front and centre for a good couple of years, albeit through a unique channel.

We figured that plenty would hate the name. Plenty would support the sentiment, but hate the name, and others would really hate the sentiment and hate the name and would tell the world about how much they hated it. In effect we figured the “haters” would do the job for us.

And while he was right in that we wanted to get people talking, and fire up both ends of the spectrum, we actually believed we would be successful. 

The reporting is obviously skewed (10 percent coverage of women’s sport despite having 50 percent of all sport participation). The idea that naming rights of an iconic sporting ground could be attached to a social cause, instead of a bank for example, was radical we figured.

Every time the Sri Lankan, Windies or Australian commentary crews announced the start of the days coverage, they would be obliged to say the name – “Support Women’s Sport Basin Reserve”. That might say something pretty unique about us as a country and a city. It would certainly keep the issue at the forefront of media. And it would help The Basin. 

Alas, it was not to be and The Basin must now fight on without a sponsor. We’re hoping of course that a more ‘appropriate’ corporate has been alerted to the financial plight of The Basin and is willing to ride in to the rescue.

Although we knew we’d have plenty of opposition to the idea, we underestimated the ability of the public to completely miss the intention and falsely fixate on the idea of defacing an iconic ground that they wrongly thought had never had a naming rights sponsor before.

And ultimately the biggest underestimation was in the apathy and inertia amongst the public even amongst those that say they support the cause. 

So thanks Martin Devlin, we take some comfort that we got plenty of people talking. But this is still an issue that isn’t going away any time soon, so don’t expect us to either.

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