'Don't just be good - look good,' sportswomen are told.


At the ‘I support Women in Sport’ Awards.




Sportswomen are struggling to get corporate sponsorship unless they are blonde, blue-eyed and feminine, according to players and administrators.

The idea that women are being judged on their appearance is not new, but when it comes to women in sport it can be the difference between making it big or having to work casual shifts on the side.

Australian cricketer and soccer player Ellyse Perry says, “When you look at the sponsorship of athletes in sport the majority goes to male athletes because they’re more visible and public – the public is a lot more exposed to them.”

As women fight for television exposure (after the ABC budget cuts) and for bigger audience numbers to attend their games, they are also fighting to seek corporate funding based on their sporting skill rather than whether they fit a particular aesthetic ideal.

Ellyse Perry on a magazine cover.

“When you look at female athletes and look at the level of sponsorship, you see that there’s a lot less because [women] they aren’t as visible and people aren’t as aware of them so I think looks do come in to it a bit more,” Ms Perry says.

Men don’t need to be good-looking to get corporate sponsorship – they are judged on their sporting skills. But for women, it’s very different.

“It’s not just about their athletic ability, it’s about how marketable they are from an aesthetic point of view. This doesn’t happen as much in male sport because they’re in the public eye a lot more,” she says.

Secretary of Australian Womensport and Recreation Association, Janice Crosswhite says that women are at a distinct disadvantage, especially if they don’t look a particular way.


“There is more pressure on women athletes to look attractive and past history shows that many top female athletes did not get the individual sponsorship opportunities they deserved because they were not blond haired, blue-eyed, slim enough or deemed “feminine enough” in female type sports.”

This means that, yet again, women have to rely on their looks to get ahead when all they want to do is be recognised for their sporting ability and skill.

When it comes to sponsorship, sportswomen should be judged in the same way as men: on their sporting ability, not on how good they’ll look on the television screen.

In other sports news from the week…

 – The Sydney FC  have secured a spot in the W-League semi-finals after a tight game against the Newcastle Jets this week. The game ended in a nail-biting 2-2 draw. Good luck to the girls going in to the semis.

 – The Hockeyroos lost the Champions Trophy to Argentina on Monday. It was a tight game, setting a 1-1 draw on the final buzzer. Unfortunately Australia went down 3 – 1 in a shoot-out.

– In basketball, the Canberra Capitals’ finals hopes are in jeopardy after their loss to Melbourne Boomers this week. The Canberra team admit that they were overly confident going in to the game and are disappointed with the outcome.

– Canberra hockey player Anna Flanagan has been short-listed for the International Hockey Federation awards after having a huge role in the international success of the Hockeyroos this year. Flanagan was named World Young Player of the year last year and is in with a chance to gain the International Female Rising Star of the Year award this year.

Do you think it’s fair for sportswomen to be judged on their appearance?