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'Girls' shouldn't have an opinion about sport. Sorry, what?

Hayley Byrnes writes: So “girls” shouldn’t have any opinion on male sports, David Campese?

Yesterday, former Australian Rugby Union player David Campese sent a tweet questioning whether female reporters should be allowed to cover rugby union.

The tweet, which read “Why does the smh get a girl to write about rugby. Growden who was a great jornio [sic] and now we have someone who has no idea about the game!” was deleted soon after it was sent – but not before it stirred some emotions and sparked backlash.

One of those people was Hayley Byrnes. She writes:

Ahh David Campese.

So “girls” shouldn’t have any opinion on male sports eh? Now I did notice that in your poor defence you did in fact post your sexist riddled tweet in the very early hours this morning, and yes maybe your morning coffee had not yet quite sunk in, but Campo come on?

You! Of all people, the respected, former enigmatic Wallaby, now commentator and columnist actually stooped to such ignorance?

This has all now got me to thinking about how sadly some women who are involved in sport are either dismissed as unworthy, or deemed a ‘groupie’.

Recently, I was called groupie when I failed to contain my excitement at meeting Socceroo Tim Cahill.

I  tried to brush aside the remark but it has made me ponder a nagging question – why is it a woman cannot appreciate sport or an athlete without being looked upon as a groupie? Let me get this straight – because I don’t have a penis, I’m obviously not meant to understand what Cahill did for the Socceroos in the ’06 World Cup?

David Campese

Nor should I know how close he was to jeopardising his Australian career at 14-years-of-age because he represented Samoa?

Just because he is a famous footballer, I’m meant to screech at the top of my lungs and do a hair flick?

How is it fair that men meeting Cahill can openly express their admiration, do some mobile phone picture-snapping with a side-order of fist-pumping, yet women like myself are derided as fame whores or bimbos who just want to shag him?

As an aspiring sports reporter and presenter, I encounter this attitude regularly. Last month, my girlfriend and I were invited into the VIP section of a popular nightclub where we were told six-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt would be attending.

“He only likes blondes, he will love you,” the host winked at me.

Ignoring the urge to roll my eyes, I politely smiled and asked to be introduced to the man many consider the greatest Olympian of all time – I mean, who wouldn’t?

I, along with the rest of the world, watched him at the London Games in awe of his brilliance, stunned by his freakish ability.

As Bolt and I shook hands and made small talk, I could feel the appraising eyes of his Jamaican entourage, one of whom asked us if we’d like to join them at the next club.

I hadn’t gotten my bragging photo yet, so when Bolt’s security team made it clear they’d smash my iPhone if I attempted a shot, I called it a night. It then occurred to me, I love my sleep far too much to ever get my “groupie” on.

Still, every football season, I get the looks of disbelief from men when I mention the latest line up for Friday night’s clash or apologise for being late because Game 5 of the NBA play-offs went to overtime.

How is it that in an era of so-called equality – where men can freely admit to enjoying a night of Keeping up with the Kardashians, where a woman can hold a senior role in a predominantly male company – it is still so foreign for a woman to have an enthusiasm for sport?

Are you there Campo? Women can and do love sport and we shouldn’t be dismissed as netball playing lesbians if we know more about it than the blokes.

Question my passion and I’ll shoot you down.

Don’t let the boobs and blonde hair fool you – I ran around my hood as a kid with my Brisbane Broncos ball tucked firmly under my little arm and all I wanted when I grew up was to be like Alfie Langer, not to shag him.

My most prized possession is a cricket bat signed by New Zealand Internationals Jeff Wilson, Chris Cairns and Brendon McCullum – to name just a few.

Call me a “groupie” and I’ll square cut you with it.

As a barefoot seven-year old palming off the local Maori boys during makeshift rugby league games in South Auckland, Hayley Byrnes has always had a passion for all things competitive. Sometimes she’s serious, sometimes she’s light-hearted. You can follow her on twitter here.

Do you follow football? Do you think there is an unfair  illegitimacy placed on women who follow or report on men’s sport?

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