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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Olympics Inspired Women – Well It’s A Good Start

When Sport England announced last week that 700,000 more people in the UK played sport this summer, the real story was that 500,000 of those people were women. Clearly the Olympics had had an amazing effect on inspiring females in their thousands to get active, which just goes to show that the link between sports broadcasting and sports participation is irrefutable. I appreciate that there is a big dose of ‘well durr’ associated with that last remark. There are always kids using jumpers for goalposts and kicking footballs and rugby balls about (depending on where you are in the country) but anyone who has driven past a sunny tennis court just before, during or after Wimbledon knows that the UK, for one month only, takes to racquet and ball in droves. The sad part is that this enthusiasm usually lasts until the strawberry season fades. Whilst there is a lot good in British sport, there is a lot wrong too and it starts early. Ask any group of adults, especially women and, outside the truly sporty, each one will have a tale of school-sport misery. Whether this is a mean PE teacher, shocking facilities, political team selection, enforced participation of a sport they hate … the list is endless. One of the biggest ironies of sport in schools is that the very time girls need physical education most, ie when they have more independent food choices, feel more tired, need better focus at school and probably discover alcohol, is the time the majority turn off sport. Increased sports broadcasting alone won’t entice women back en masse – the thing that the Olympics did was an excellent sports PR job. Suddenly athletic physiques of all types were more admired than overly spray tanned skeletons with surgically enhanced boobs. Much was made of the years of hard training as opposed to overnight celebrity based on minimal talent. Olympic and Paralympic women were judged by what they achieved not how they looked. In short, suddenly everyone – including the media - was much more sensible and positive, the knock on effect of which is clear. The secret now is to keep this going; funding and interest levels are potentially already dwindling but with the right investment in broadcasting and sports public relations, this incredibly exciting trend can grow. Without this, the Olympics is in danger of being a happy memory rather than the life-changing event it genuinely could have been. Bio ENS Ltd is a sports PR agency based in central London, tasked with promoting and protecting brands in sport. It specializes in rugby PR, football PR and Olympics PR.

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