When the Indian Men’s Hockey Team won the Asia Cup 2017, it drew attention from all quarters. But, when the Indian Women’s Hockey Team beat China 5-4 in an enthralling shootout to lift their second Asia Cup title, ending a wait of 13 years, Hockey lovers and Fans all over, kept surfing television channels and YouTube desperately to catch the action live. But none of the matches of this tournament were being telecasted, not on TV, not online!
We are not blaming The Hockey India Federation or the International Hockey Federation. All the matches, that India plays outside India that are not organised by the International Hockey Federation, the organisers responsible for the tournament have to make arrangements to broadcast the matches.
Yesterday was one of the biggest moments for Indian hockey. The series held important, for India’s win would help them qualify for the World Cup next year in London. Asia Cup was organised by the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF). While The Asian Hockey Federation struck a deal with Star Sports to air the Men’s event in India, there was no arrangements made to broadcast the women’s tournament in Kakamigahara, on TV or Online. But, this is not surprising, when it comes to women in sports, TV in general tunes out citing viewership issues.
Just as shocking is that despite a dramatic increase in the number of girls and women playing youth, high school, college and professional sports, TV coverage of this gender, is drastically declining. It’s not that generous coverage of men’s sports leaves no time for women.
The everyday marginalisation of women’s sports is perhaps most apparent during major international sporting events like the Olympics. Suddenly, our Broadcaster “discovers” women’s sports all over again, only to have this level of coverage disappear when the international event ends.
The Broadcaster loves to get behind ‘our’ athletes—both men and women—when they are competing on a world stage, but ignores the myriad sports taking place every day within our national borders. I suspect what we have here is nationalism trumping sexism.