Other than weather sites, I have three main websites that I visit from time to time throughout the day, as a break from my workday.
Two of them are news sites (CBC and CNN) and the other is, no surprise, SI.com.
There's a great deal to like about SI.com, including this Fannation offshoot that we all enjoy so much. SI has great writers, features interesting stories and offers fantastic photos.
But I think we need to start to push back on SI.com for the way they treat women. All of us, as group, need to use our voices (and our position as the "target market" for SI's advertisers) to tell the people at Sports Illustrated that the word "Sports" includes women's sports.
I did a quick review of the SI.com homepage today and I found, in the sea of stories, links and photos, a grand total of FIVE women either mentioned, featured or displayed: three were models featured in the "Swimsuit" sections, one was a model featured in the "Daily Mustard" section and the fifth was an excellent writer, Courtney Nguyen, writing on tennis.
In summary, the entire SI.com mainpage, which features literally hundreds of entries (headlines, summaries, links and photos), contains exactly ONE woman in a sports-related role.
And, sad to say, Nguyen was writing about Rafael Nadal, a male tennis player. Coincidence, really, since Nguyen writes equally often about men and women in her articles.
Other than that, where's the balance? Where's the equity? The equality? The respect.
The Women's Final Four received decent coverage recently, to be sure. Was it at the same level and intensity as the men's? No. But it was still pretty good.
Other than that, where's the coverage of women's sports?
Now don't try to tell me that women's sports are inferior (they are not); don't try to tell me SI.com will drive away readers by featuring women's sports more equitably and prominently (we're smarter and better than that). Just explain to me why, when the site trumpets itself as a "Sports" site, it largely ignores 50% of the sports events out there.
For example, the Women's World Hockey Championships took place recently. The US won the gold in a closely fought, beautifully played match against the host Canadians in the continuation of one of the world's great sports rivalries. And SI.com basically ignored it.
Further, last weekend, the LPGA's first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, took place. I watched the final round on the Golf Channel. It featured golf of the finest quality, with fantastic shot making and clutch putting. What coverage did it get on SI.com?
Sorry, I couldn't hear you over the barrage of coverage of the Masters. What did you say?
I used to work for a smalltown newspaper in cottage country Ontario. The best baseball played in that area at the time was women's fast pitch, with talented players, exciting games and fantastic rivalries. I was told, however, not to cover it because, well, no one is interested in women's sports. I should cover the boys' baseball league instead, even though it offered some of the most inept, painful action I've ever seen.
I chose, instead, to cover both. I gave the women's fast pitch league the best kind of coverage I could provide, with game previews, game coverage and post-game follow-up. Despite the nay-sayers, by the time the season was over, the crowds at the women's games had increased significantly, readership of our sports section was way up and people were stopping me on the street to talk about the upcoming women's games.
Peter King used to write about his daughters' sporting activities in his popular Monday Morning Quarterback column on SI.com. To his surprise, I think, his weekly comments on their exploits on the diamond, field and pitch became extremely popular with his readers, to the point where he was getting a lot of feedback on those sections of his column alone.
My point is: the argument that the media shouldn't cover women's sports because no one wants to read about them just does not wash anymore.
To paraphrase the old movie: "If you cover it, they will read."
Women's sports are every bit as interesting, exciting and worthwhile as men's are. If SI.com and other media outlets would cover women's sports with the same focus, the same dedication, the same professionalism that they give to men's sports, the readership will come.