Why Are SA’s Non-Performing Sports Men Heavily Sponsored, Unlike SA’s Performing Sportswomen? By Cheryl Roberts

4 Jan

In the sports that South Africa’s men in sport are drowning in money privilege, the sportsmen produce below par performance and at times, disgusting results. South Africa’s sportswomen don’t have the luxury of money. Given their financial constraints, they amazingly inspiring and achieve positive results.

In the heavily sponsored men’s sports of cricket, football, rugby and golf, South Africa’s international men’s sport performances, over the past year, have been embarrassing and disappointing.

Yet, women’s sports with the little sponsorship and financial handouts here and there, now and then, achieved credible results while participating in sport with chains around them.

This unequal, unjust and unfair sponsorship of men’s sport while women in sport receive handouts and crumbs, must be stopped. Because of structural gender inequalities in sport, our society and country is being deprived of developing girls and women in sport. And this is being done while boys and men are being looked after very healthily and indulgently.

I’m of the opinion that no national and provincial government funding should be given to men in corporate sports, whose sports are corporate backed and supported. Working class boys and men in sport should be assisted and funded because corporates exist by suffocating and strangling the working class from whom they extract their profits.

Why do men’s sports get massive sports funding from corporate South Africa? Given their embarrassing results attained in their sports world of privilege, sponsorship and funding should be cut with more funding to sportswomen to help women in sport grow.

The evidence is glaring that South Africa associates most of its sports money with men’s sport and very little money with sportswomen. A billion rand and more sports industry associates sport with men in sport and male prowess in sport as being what sport and achievement is about. Women in sport and sportswomen get the crumbs and little financial handouts here and there to assist development and growth of women’s sport.

If women in sport can attain commendable international results such as world class, world and Olympic champion, top ten international rankings, given their ‘second class citizen’ sports funding allocation, then we are missing out on what the sportswomen can really deliver in a sports environment which protects and advances sportswomen instead of dissing women and holding them in servitude mode, always dependent on handouts and unsure if they’ll have adequate funding to realise their annual sports ambitions.

I know that global sport is extremely competitive; that only the best win world and continental titles and international open events and not every sportsman or sports team can be the best.

Just look at South Africa’s men’s football team in 2015, together with the rugby and cricket teams and golf. They were professional sportsmen, paid lucrative salaries and bonuses. And what did they do?

Towards the end of 2015, South Africa’s sportswomen were dealt unkind boardroom decisions. Although three SA women’s teams of football, rugby and hockey achieved Rio Olympic qualification, the teams were told they not ‘good enough’ for SASCOC’s medal aspirations. The Olympic berths of South Africa’s women’s hockey and women’s rugby sevens teams have been taken away while Banyana Banyana have escaped narrowly, by virtue of the African Olympic qualifiers being their only route to qualification, despite South Africa’s women’s football team being very weak and lowly ranked internationally.

South Africa’s indulgent sports of men’s sports of cricket, football, rugby and golf have, over generations, attained the sports funding, not because they had the sports prowess but because they were men and were seen as the supreme gender in a male-dominating, male-controlled society.

How is South Africa’s sportswomen expected to be world class and achieve top world rankings when they must struggle for funding? The men’s teams of football, cricket and rugby don’t struggle; they get all their sport needs taken care of. All the sportsmen have to do is turn up and deliver.

Structural inequality exists in the South African sports network and apparatus with white privilege, black middle class access and male privilege dominating access to and participation in sport from grassroots to international domains.

By suffocating development and growth of girls and women in sport, we are depriving millions of girls and women from knowing their worth in sport. Why do we entrench the gender inequalities with screwed and unequal sponsorship? Why do we allow women’s sport to be strangled and men’s sport to thrive.

Non-performing and under-achieving sportsmen should not be recipients and beneficiaries of massive and lucrative sports funding and sponsorship. Performing and achieving sportswomen must be financially supported to achieve in world sport and know their international potential.

The juncture is ripe for sportswomen and women in sport to protest unequal funding in sport. Protest and resistance must disrupt gender inequalities in sport!


women rugby players in south africa (pic: cheryl roberts)

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