Bored Of The Biased Sports Coverage? ‘Board Of Media’ Docu Is The Answer!

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When you watch ESPN or whatever is your chosen sports destination? What do you see? Your fave football, basketball, or baseball team? What about the commentators? They are usually ex-pro players right? Have you noticed something big missing from sports coverage? We’ll tell you: it’s women. Women are still considered somewhat of an anomaly in the sports world, but in the US women are having breakthroughs in the media world.

With the new CBS all-female sports show ‘We Need To Talk‘ launching recently, and broadcasters such as Erin Andrews (who has talked about the double standards in sports broadcasting) giving women in the game a much bigger representation, things are slowly changing in the name of gender equality. On the field, it is not much better, however.

Men’s events get the dominant coverage at most Olympic and X-games, (that is, the events women aren’t banned from!) and of course there’s the prize money. Because even in 2014, when women and men compete in the same sport or event, they don’t necessarily get paid the same. Let’s call it the sports wage gap. In fact Tennis is one of only a handful of major sports in the world where men and women are paid equally, and it only happened recently thanks to Stacey Allaster, president of the Women’s Tennis Association who fought successfully for equal pay in Wimbledon and the French Open in 2007.

A new documentary called ‘Board of Media‘ is examining the major gender problem in action sports specifically, and are trying to raise awareness about the problem so that attitudes and trends can change.

“I think it’s all about equality, and as long as you’re out there getting involved, whether you’re a dude or a woman it’s just about having fun and enjoying snowboarding,” says British pro snowboarder Aimee Fuller at the start of the video below.

“It’s important for [girls] to see other women excelling and doing the things that have been probably regarded as male territory over time,” says British kitesurfer and snowboarder Roger Shoesmith, who also happens to be BOM filmmaker Emma Shoesmith’s dad.

We spoke to both Emma and Alexandra Dack, the two British women behind ‘Board of Media’ which is not just a ground-breaking documentary but also a non-profit aiming to give girls more visibility in action sports.

Emma is the Board of Media director and concept developer. She is also action sports obsessed and has competed as well as worked in the industry on snow, land and sea. Emma is part of the Women In Board and Action sports organization.

Alexandra is the Board of Media producer and journalist who is using her experience in both of these fields to interview athletes and industry individuals on screen and off screen.

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Tell us about the premise for Board of Media?

Board of Media is documentary and not-for-profit campaign raising awareness and opening the debate about the inequality in action sports; particularly advertising, film, photography and prize money. We challenge representation, gender equality, everyday sexism, talking to world champion athletes, designers, directors & company owners and academics closest to the subject matter about their experience in the industry.

Why did you decide to create this documentary?

Emma: Board of media came from my own experience as a female in the action sports industry. I felt like there was not enough coverage of girls performing and excelling at their chosen sport. When I did encounter female action sport media I noticed that it often uses sexualized images to sell products and sometimes the girls that are pictured are not even athletes.

Alexandra: With the under-representation prevalent in action sports, working for Board of Media has allowed me to become involved in exploring and sharing with others the problematic industry I initially knew little about with the interest to evoke change.

What are some of the stats you can tell us about the coverage of women vs men in action sports?

Prize disparity is a big issue; in the surfing world tour, the women get a mere £37,600 ($59,165 USD) and the men get a whopping £62,700 ($98,660USD). Snowboarding and skateboarding seem better however in the lesser known sport of cliff diving, men get nearly four times as much as the women do which is only £3,100 ($4878 USD). This prize is for the world series sponsored by corporate giant Red Bull, the amount would barely even cover the cost of the trip!

Can you tell us the names of some of the women in action sports that we (and the rest of the media) should know about?

Apart from our Brit snowboarder and Sochi Bronze medal winner Jenny Jones, there are some other lesser known females that are pushing the sport in great directions; Danielle Gallacher of Girl Skate UK, Lucy Adams UK pro skateboarder, Sweden’s Nina Nording who is part of the High Heaven project. Also more well known, 3 times world surf longboard champ Cori Schumacher who is connected to The Inspire Initiative, and of course our very first Board of media ambassador Adrienne Toumayan who is a parkour athlete and teacher in the US.

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What kind of damaging message does it send to girls who don’t see other women on TV performing at the highest athletic level in action sports?

Women thrive in seeing other women in action sports – this is fact. With the lack of media coverage on a diverse rage of females, it may push potentially interested girls out of this conversation, leaving them with the feeling of self-doubt and lack that they do not fit a particular action sports stereotype.

What should the media be doing to change the status quo?

More coverage! More exposure of women participating in and enjoying all sports, creating video tutorials and life style profiles that females of all ages and races can connect with and be empowered by.

Board of Media is also a non-profit campaign. What kind of projects are awareness-building initiatives are you guys involved in?

We intend to build a network with our ambassadors promoting equality in action sports and providing safe and fun places to practice sport in mixed or female only environments. We also want to educate girls in media literacy to eradicate any negative body confidence issues.

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Why does inequality in sports hurt everyone involved?

Women love sport, men love sport; this is not just a problem for women!

“How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?” said actress Emma Watson said in her now-famous UN speech on gender equality.

Can you share any personal stories or experiences you have faced that led to the creation of this documentary and non-profit?

Emma: My own self-image and body confidence had defiantly been impacted by action sports media. It is only now I’m 31 and am just finishing up a media degree that I now realize, ‘hey you know what, I am happy with my body and I can be a successful, strong female with out conforming to an overtly feminine stereo type’.

Alexandra: As a child, I was obsessed with playing football, so much so, I played for the local boys team and was the only girl to do so! After getting to a certain age, I was told I could no longer play for the team and my confidence was knocked. Apart from at school, there were no local female football teams that I could join and my passion for playing football ended. I don’t want this to be the case for the next generation. Granted there’s more chances for girls to join teams today, but it’s still in an unequal playing field. This needs to stop so young girls can have the confidence and passion to pursue their dreams.

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To follow what Alexandra and Emma are doing with Board of Media, check out their Indiegogo campaign, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Here is the video they made for their campaign, reiterating why gender equality in action sports, heck in ANY sports, shouldn’t be a debate or discussion, it should be the norm.


 

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