Cue a huge welling of furious anger, adoption of a gladiatorial Russell Crowe-stance and a swearing of vengeance in this life or the next...
i) Opportunity in professional ranks
Subtly, or not so subtly, girls (and boys) hear messages throughout their early life about what they should/shouldn’t be doing. Society & the media give boys encouragement to invest in sports… not girls. As Tanni Grey-Thompson flags in this article, there’s still not the investment in women’s sport that the performances should warrant. Why? Possibly because female athletes are not publicly presented as strong role models, which also subsequently means kids aren’t inspired... meaning there will be little sporting enthusiasm and encouragement around my little girl at school each day (I don’t know exactly what the girls were doing while I was playing football every lunchtime at school, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t tennis or darts or quidditch*).
I think the issue of incomparable rewards & recognition will only really become a problem if our daughter turns out to be elite in a sport. My wife says I’m wrong. (I’ll let you know which of us was correct once we’ve set up two parallel realities containing differing views to women in sport and measured the athletic progress of identical versions of our daughter in each)
Getting into specific sports can be hard enough as it is… There’s an obvious economic snag to making every sport readily available to every boy and every girl. According to this book, Norway has by far the highest sporting-participation rates due to government incentives and a strong enough economy to invest in making sport accessible to everyone. But even in Norway I'm sure there would be barriers if, as a male, my little lad wanted to get involved in, say, rhythmic gymnastics***… and to throw on top of that discouragement of girls getting involved at all is unacceptable.
#31: Not strictly sports, but as part of encouraging our little girl into an active lifestyle, my brother indulged her love of dancing by buying her a full ballet outfit on her birthday. Upon taking her to lessons for the first time, my wife found the following equation to hold true:
[Kid wearing all the gear] + [All other kids wearing tracksuits or jeans] = [Other mums instantly disliking mum of kid in all the gear]
... she also found that, if your daughter walks straight to the centre of the room, announces "I'm here!" and takes a bow, it's surprising how effectively a silent group of women can say "No matter how nice you and your spoilt little show-off daughter really are, we will never, ever be friends after this" using only their eyes
* Actually, is quidditch-involvement-level even across boy and girl wizards at Hogwarts? Based on minimal knowledge, I don’t think it is. Rubbish. Even if we send our little girl to a fictional school for mythical beings she won’t get an equal shot at sports
(I’d apologise for potential offence here, but I once loudly expressed this opinion verbally before turning around to find the entire Australian rhythmic squad stood right behind me - long story - so I figure I’m beyond forgiveness and may as well just stick with my ignorant view)