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Devastating: This week has been crippling for Australian women's sport.

abc to cut women's sport

Australians are already underfed with coverage of women’s sport, and with the government’s recent decisions to cut the ABC budget, it’s only going to get worse.

One of the key casualties of the ABC budget cuts will be the coverage of women’s sport.

Australia’s national broadcaster recently told their staff that both the women’s soccer and women’s basketball will be culled from the only regular free-to-air spot they have on Australian television. The coverage will stop at the end of the current season along with the Shute Shield rugby union and other state football leagues.

abc to cut women's sport
Danielle Warby.
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Board Director of Australian Womensport and Recreation Association, Danielle Warby, believes that completely cutting the coverage shows a disregard for one of the ABC’s major audiences.

“Football is the only game the whole world plays. The Matildas are in the top 10 and have an infinitely greater chance of winning the World Cup than the Socceroos… When there’s an interstate match, I’m watching live while chatting online with the very engaged and vocal fans on Twitter,” she said.

Former Minister for Sport Kate Lundy said the cuts are “absolutely devastating”.

Lundy said that if women’s sport was no longer in public circles it would not have the revenue strength to leverage sponsorships, which could mean that female players would not even have their costs covered to play a professional sport.

“The whole thing has gone backward,” she said.

Lundy expressed her concern about the social effect the cuts may have on Australians, especially considering the lack of female role models on TV.

She said the coverage of sport was about “inspiring Australians of all ages to stay active and to play sport….What if the only sporting role models were blokes? Where does that leave the girls?” she said. “We’re in a devastating position.”

Australian basketball player Lauren Jackson has taken to Twitter to show her frustration about the government cuts.

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Whether you’re a fan of sport or not, this is a devastating decision that will affect all Australians.

It is a decision that could erase female sporting role models from our television screens, which will only entrench the inequality that women currently experience in sport.

More importantly, this decision may lead us to a world where girls will watch sports on TV and think, “professional sport must only be for boys, it’s not an option for me.” In taking women’s sport from the tv, we will effectively discourage the next generation of female sports players – which will not only be devastating for the future of women in sport, but also could be detrimental to the health and fitness of women and girls more widely.

The sad thing is, the second-class status that women have in sport will continue unless we make sure that women’s sport has a secure position on Australian free-to-air television.

And in other sporting news from the week…

– The Newcastle Jets lost 4-0 in their W-League game against Melbourne Victory last Saturday. Melbourne believe they can retain the crown that they won last year now that they’ve secured a spot in the semi-finals.

– Bendigo Spirit beat Townsville Fire in a battle between two of the WNBL’s rival teams last weekend. It was a three-point victory to wrap up the game played at Bendigo Stadium after it went into overtime.

–  Stephanie Gilmore won her sixth world surfing championship – the win leaves her one championship behind Layne Beachley’s record of seven women’s titles.

What do you think of the decision to cut the ABC’s coverage of women in sport?

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