Women’s Pro Sports – a niche?

The Thuringen Rundfahrt der Frauen wrapped up in Gera, Germany today, with a win by Elena Cecchini of Canyon/Sram (Yea, Elena!). I’ve kept tabs on the tour via Twitter and Cyclingnews, which has been great. This race is featured in my novel, Wheeler, as is La Course by Tour de France, which will be held on Sunday, before the men’s Stage 21.

I don’t see that LaCourse will be shown on NBC Sports, before the final stage of the TdF (Edited: It was!!!)  Thankfully, I was able to watch it last year on YouTube virtually in its entirety. That helped me write the chapter, as did all the coverage in Cyclingnews. Fictionalized, of course.

[Who wants a cameo in Book 2? waka wakawaka waka

It’s a disappointment that all of these races are being held at the same time that massive attention is being paid to Le Tour. I like Chris Froome and hope he finishes in Yellow, but I would have rather seen Mara Abbott climb up Mortirolo   in English.

I get why so little attention is paid to women’s sports in general – the almighty Dollar [or whatever currency] – plays a huge role, as does interest of sponsors and availability of the rights. Helen Pidd of the Guardian writes about the frustration of trying to watch the Giro [Click for article here] without actually flying to Italy. Reasons are valid but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’m good at complaining, just ask my husband.

Trying to write about Women’s Pro Cycling when very little media attention is paid to it is frustrating. I did not write the 2015 Giro Rosa like I did the others in Wheeler –  I shared mostly Loren’s experience as she dealt with her injuries from her crash in the prologue. I found even less information about the Giro dell’Emilia or Chrono Champenois (not in the current novel, by the way).

As a writer, that’s OK. I can fudge along on a three sentence write up. As a viewer and fan, it is most certainly NOT OK.

WiggleHigh5 had a great video series about their experience for the 2015 Giro [click here for video]. I also wrote about the fantastic way Slovenia handled the prologue itself [video here]. There used to be a video that had the pre-race festivities, because what I wrote actually did happen. There was a male dance troupe! A rose for every rider! NO PODIUM GIRLS! [No offense to those ladies who do this, but let’s admit it. If I were a female pro, I’d rather a nice looking bloke give me flowers than a pretty woman in a sash] It’s not in English but so what! All of stages are shown, mostly in their entirety, which is awesome to someone like me who likes to ride with the races on my trainer.

For the Thuringen, there are plenty of up to 3 minutes of highlights, most of which are not in English. It bears repeating: Sponsors won’t pay the money since they see very little return. Interest is there, but women’s cycling has been called a niche sport and broadcast rights are expensive. Having the commentary in English would mean hiring additional staff. Like I said, it’s frustrating and disappointing.

Michelle Castillio of CNBC wrote about Refinery 29, a women’s online magazine that focuses on fashion and beauty, branching out into women’s sports [article here] 51% of women are sports fans, while 4% of the media pays attention to women’s sports. We can’t all be NASCAR fans. Golf is big in the US, but is the Women’s Pro Tour on TV like the men’s? Very limited, if at all.

Will the Women’s Olympic events be given as much attention as the men’s? I have a feeling, and it’s not a good one.

Are women’s pro sports a niche?  What say you?

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