Clare Balding and Sonia O’Sullivan at the Liberty Insurance women in sport event at Croke Park. Picture: Inpho
TOP UK sports broadcaster Clare Balding
believes Irish broadcasters and media outlets should be doing much more to promote women’s sports.
Speaking at the Liberty Insurance
and Sport for Business
-sponsored ‘Wise Up – Exploring Women in Sport in Ireland’ conference yesterday in Croke Park, Balding went head to head with RTE’s head of sport, Ryle Nugent
, during an amicable debate on broadcast coverage of women’s sport.
“You are fortunate in Ireland to have female role models of quality and personality to represent you on the world stage and there’s so many opportunities for Irish businesses and media outlets to tap into.
Mary White with former Irish olympic runner and world champion Sonia O’Sullivan at the Liberty Insurance Women in Sport event at Croke Park.
“What I would say to broadcasters and potential sponsors is, because women’s sport is still growing in Ireland, you have a better chance of manipulating TV and radio schedules to suit you. For businesses, it’s much more affordable than men’s sport, and that may not be the case in five or 10 years time, but if you get in there now, it is the case and you will get the rewards.
“Social media too is where there’s a massive opportunity and it allows us to create our own storms rather than wait for the coverage. But, I also think women’s sport can massively help itself and Madeline Albright when she was secretary of state once said ‘There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support women’, and that has to be addressed also.”
RTE’s Ryle Nugent said the public broadcaster is on the right track having broadcast two of Ireland’s women’s Six Nations games this spring, however still believes much more needs to be done to increase attendances at women’s sports events.
“We have made significant strides, and they were conscious strides. We’ve got to a point now where we’re making decisions proactively in terms of covering women’s sport when we believe it’s the right decision.
RTE’s head of sport Ryle Nugent. Picture: Inpho
“But, live television is not always necessarily the best thing because you need audiences and frankly one of the most disappointing things for me about the two women’s six nations games we covered is that they were both away matches and both in front of crowds of 250-300. That isn’t good for the game, because we engage with sport on television because we wish we were there and if you look at something where you don’t wish they were there, then why would you watch it?”
Also speaking at yesterday’s event was former Irish Olympian Sonia O’Sullivan
who believes Ireland is to the forefront of promoting women’s sports compared to Australia, where she now lives.
“In Ireland we’re very proactive and the message to support women’s sport is clear. But, in Australia it’s only now that women’s AFL is becoming as high profile as ladies football and camogie here, and it’s interesting to see that happening in a country where sport is so big and that they’re really only now waking up to the fact that they have to give more attention to women’s sport.”
June 12, 2015