PtG Article 08.11.2011

Sports sponsors overwhelmingly favour men over women

Despite increasing interest in women's sport, almost all sponsor deals still go to men. New research from the United Kingdom reveals a deep gulf between male and female athletes when it comes to sponsorship.

A few days ago, The Commission on the Future of Women's Sport in the United Kingdom published the report "Big Deal?", which looks at the share of women's sport in sponsorship deals and its potential as an object of investment.

The report concludes that men's sports attract the overwhelming majority of sponsorship investments and that there is an untapped potential in women's sport which has experienced growing interest from TV audiences over the past few years.

According to the report, men's sport received 61.1 per cent of the value of all sponsorship deals in the United Kingdom. Sponsorship of women's sport amounted to only 0.5 per cent of the total market, whilst  mixed sports accounted for 38.4 per cent. It is difficult to determine the exact degree of disproportion between men's and women's sports, because the report does not explain how big a share women make up in the category of 'mixed sport'.

The report points out that there has been increase in the interest of TV audiences in women's sport such as the women's world cup in football and the Wimbledon tennis series. According to the report, sports fans in the United Kingdom are very interested in watching more women's sport on television.

Olympic opportunities

The Commission on the Future of Women's Sport is convinced that the upcoming London Olympics will be an obvious platform for investing in women's sport as the eyes of the world will be on Britain and many female athletes.

An international survey of media coverage of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens ("Sportswomen at the Olympics. A Global Content Analysis of Newspaper Coverage") shows that in general there is much more focus on women's sport in connection with Olympic games.

Based on newspaper coverage from approximately 20 countries, the survey shows that women's sport receive so much coverage on the sports pages during Olympic games that it rivals coverage of men's sport. This is in sharp contrast to normal everyday coverage where women's sport only make up a very small part of news contents.

The "Big Deal?" report suggests that investments in women's sport are important in order to ensure that more women in the United Kingdom become physically active. Currently, around 80 per cent of all women are not playing enough sport or taking enough exercise to benefit their health. This suggestion is, however, up for debate as international research in the area has not been able to prove any strong links between elite sports and participation in sport for all activities.

Read the report "Big Deal? 2011: The case for commercial investment in women's sport"

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