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Newspapers fail to support women's sport

12th June 2007

Physical activity is essential for everybody's health, but sports coverage in our national newspapers appears to be discriminating against women. A three week survey published in The Food Magazine has revealed that no national newspaper was able to dedicate more than 4.5% of sports coverage to women, with the worst offender, The Sun, providing a pitiful 0.21% of coverage to women's sport.

Without sporting heroes to aspire to, there is a real risk that newspapers are discouraging women from participating in sport. Dame Kelly Holmes, National School Sports Champion, told The Food Magazine that one reason girls are put off sport, "…is the notion that they are not good at sports, or at least, they think they are not good at sports." Dame Kelly believes that the lack of coverage of women's sport is one factor in this, and suggests that a TV channel dedicated to women's sport would be one way to balance the coverage.

Gill McConway, the England and Wales Cricket Board's Executive Director for women's cricket, says, "Women's sport does not get the recognition it deserves. Youngsters just don't get to see women like Charlotte Edwards (England women's cricket captain) making a beautiful cover drive to the boundary. It is hard to create role models for young women if these talented players get no recognition."

The survey, undertaken in March and April 2007, analysed more than 3,000 sports pages. The total coverage of women's sport in this period amounted to only 60 pages (2%), with almost one third of the individual newspapers failing to mention women at all on their sports pages.

Percentage of newspaper sports coverage devoted to women (11th March to 1st April 2007)
Guardian/Observer 4.5%
Telegraph/Sunday Telegraph 3.5%
Times/Sunday Times 2.3%
Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday 2.0%
Independent/Independent on Sunday 1.3%
Daily Express/Sunday Express 0.83%
Mirror/Sunday Mirror 0.25%
Sun 0.21%

There is a wide variety of women's sport to cover, including football; rugby; hockey; skiing; boxing; triathlon; judo; BMX biking and netball, but it appears that our national newspapers simply do not regard it as worthy of coverage.

Sarah Potter, who writes a weekly women and sport column for The Times commented, "Sport needs its heroes - people at the very top of their game that you want to emulate. If column inches are dedicated to those people it will generate a following."

More information

Contact: Jessica Mitchell on 020 7837 2250; email:

The Food Magazine is published by The Food Commission, an independent watchdog which campaigns for healthier, safer, sustainable food in the UK.