There is a petition making its online rounds right now, to try and get NBC to give the same amount of coverage to Women's Rugby, as Men's Rugby has recently been receiving. Rebecca Carlson who started the petition and #HERRUGBYCOUNTS, feels that the recent College Rugby Championships Sevens that was aired on NBC and NBC Sports missed a huge part of the tournament, like THE ENTIRE WOMEN'S BRACKET! Which the broadcast in fact didn't even once show the results of those games, or even mention the women's games.
Let's start with the event's home page. Why two male players on the side banner? Something as simple as one male and one female would easily bring attention that, there are two sets of games that happened last weekend. The fact that Penn State Women's Rugby Sevens team won it's third consecutive championship, is the third story as the banner changes. However, women's rugby is one story out of the top SIX things they chose to highlight in the banner.
Carlson posted to LinkedIn and explained that
Rugby has many marketing attributes that resemble other sports yet we remain unique in that our women’s game is no different from the men’s. Our female athletes compete with identical rules, the same size ball, training, officials, field size, clock duration, commitment and honor. Our CRC ticket money was and is just as green as the men’s while the digital satellites, laptops and TV’s in our homes remain just as capable in accepting and delivering our sport equally to the American public.
Why are we not yet seen as equals on and off the pitch? In the rugby community, I have always felt men and women clubs respect each other and the game. No one has ever had the opportunity to say women play with a smaller ball. Women don't tackle as hard. Women can't do it the same way the men's club can. In fact, we do, women and men's clubs, especially in colleges practice and scrimmage with each other, play co-ed tournaments, and if game are going on in the same place, at the same time, they deserve the same amount of coverage. Yet, the organizers, broadcasters, coaches, trainers, school administration, all felt ok with their women's teams not getting coverage, out of nearly 35 games, and not even equal time on the main fields.
Our USA Women's 7s team is one of the best in the WORLD! They beat New Zealand! For the first time ever they beat New Zealand, but that was not broadcast. Not on NBC, not on a highlight reel in any American news, the fact that the United States of America Women's Sevens Team is securing itself a place in the Olympics, not that important. What does this say to the growing fans of rugby? Do only men's teams matter? Should college and universities only offer scholarship to men's clubs? Coaching development matters more to one team than another? What about safety, changing roms, showers, and any sort of equal rights? One trainer for the women's teams during CRC said the inequality was blatant.
“On Saturday, the women had to share one locker room, while the guys had three (not having to share with their opponent). On Sunday, the women were not allowed any locker rooms, and the men had all four. This meant our women were unable to shower before our 7-hour bus ride home.”
If college administrators, NBC, Penn State, and even the referees said nothing about it or tried to correct the matter at the time, you better believe it will happen again, and continue to happen. Big talk of getting #likeagirl to happen, is just that, talk. Show and cover women's sports. Don't broadcast it in the middle of the Super Bowl for brownie points with female audience, the show ZERO women's professional sports afterwards. Why is it like a girl, instead woman anyway? This just reinforces that they will say what they need to say, but no follow through to actually progress women's equality in the world of sports. If any network put a tenth of the amount of energy to market women's sports as they do into a single NBA game, it'd be a huge game changer!