Women In Sport Must Not Get Post-Lockdown Crumbs By Cheryl Roberts

26 Apr


The #CoronaVirus pandemic and subsequent world lockdowns have impacted negatively on sport around the world with no live sport – from grassroots to international – being played. Most pro sports like golf, rugby, cricket, football are reporting huge financial losses. Of course these are losses impacting on the men in sport and women’s sports as these sports are the ones heavily favoured by sponsors, given the patriarchal supporting world we live and operate in.

As world sport struggles to steady themselves and weather the financial losses largely because of no international sport and lucrative national pro leagues being played, their focus is on how to recoup the financial losses and get back to healthy flow of funds in sport.

Given these disruptions, world sport will focus on re-formatted plans. They already doing this. And, in the men-dominated sports its likely going to be an all out concentration on getting the sportsmen playing again with women’s sport getting little crumbs or a delayed look in.

The biggest excuse of men-dominated sports is going to be something like this: ‘there’s no money to do anything right now but to play men’s sports and try to get some money flowing’. Sponsors and corporates are also going to use this excuse of there being loss of income due to no live broadcasts of international and national league sports and no playing of international sport.

And most men-dominated sports are likely to be putting amateur sport competitions on hold, this year citing ‘no money’ to play amateur sport. With most women’s sports relying on their amateur foundations for strength and growth, this excuse is seriously going to hinder women’s sports over the next year. When budgets must be re-vamped, men-dominated sports are surely going to be looking at playing men’s teams in national and international competitions with the excuse being something about ‘the sportsmen bringing in the money.’

It’s always proved challenging for most women’s sports to get corporate sponsorship. It’s likely going to prove even tougher post-corona virus lockdowns. Businesses are going to say they ‘have lost money during the corona pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and can’t afford to sponsor sport’. However, when they do opt to sponsor sport, it’s likely to be a men’s sports team and men’s international events and national competitions.
In South African sport, we will see the men-dominated sports of football, rugby, golf, cricket definitely looking at lucrative men’s sports competitions. Women’s events will have to wait.


We can already see the signs: when sport talks about how they are restructuring and preparing to weather the storm and be re-designed post-world lockdowns, its all about the men’s events. Where is there planning about the women’s events? Have the men-dominated excecutive committees and presidents and CEO’s just marginalised the women in their sport?

Additionally, we must ensure that there’s not just a little focus centered on the national women’s teams and elite sportswomen with no consideration of playing the game at amateur and provincial levels; the strength of national and international representation. Seemingly, it’s easier to just cancel and call off women’s provincial and national events with little in depth assessment of its negative impact on women’s participation in sport.

In South African sport, the organisation of amateur sport at club and provincial levels will be left to the volunteers in sport who will again be using their personal time and money to keep girls and women in sport, especially the black and working class girls and women.


I’m thinking deep about the scenarios likley to face women’s sports and elite sportswomen post-lockdowns. And it’s scary. Although both women and men in sport have been through the repercussions of the pandemic and lockdowns, it’s looking likely for men’s sports to be supported much more than sportswomen within sports federations.

And this brings us to the question: Who is going to speak up for the women in men-dominated sports. Who is going to challenge for more assistance for sportswomen and women in sport?

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