Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Karen Bartlett Column

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Karen Bartlett Column

Article excerpt

Byline: By Karen Bartlett

Ladies, imagine one of those cartoon bubbles is coming out of your head.

In it you are poised by your floor sweeper, your hair neatly permed, your narrow waist shown off under a full skirt and high heels. Your hand hovers by your mouth in horror ( have you forgotten to make your husband's dinner? Has little Billy swallowed a piece of his Meccano set? Did you fall asleep and wake up in 1950?

No, you are probably on your way to work, feeding the kids cereal and mulling over the last episode of Footballers' Wives. So when you turn on the TV and see that the US Masters, one of the world's biggest golf tournaments, is playing again this year at a club that refuses to accept women members, it really does seem like a weird quirk, something that has dropped out of time and space and been forgotten about while the rest of life moved on.

Less quirky, though, is the fact that most things involving sport and women in this country are still trapped three generations ago. Should we care when women never really get sport, do they? This is the half of the population that squints at the beautiful game and sees a group of overgrown boys kicking a ball around a field.

Does it matter if women can't join in sports in the same way as men?

It turns out, though, that a lot of women do care about the principle, if not the beauty, of the game. "I don't care two hoots about sport," says one angry mother. "But I do care about women being able to take part. And when my girls go to a football match they can't even use the toilets."

In fact, in this country sport is just about the only area of permissible discrimination left.

Unless she is an exceptional track and field athlete, like Denise Lewis, no careers guidance teacher is ever going to tell a teenage girl that she should dream of becoming a professional sportswoman.

If she is pig headed enough to persevere, her career is likely to be blighted by lack of money, lack of media coverage and our own attitudes towards women who want to spend their time involved in sweaty sporty pursuits.

Some sports have crept up on us and become almost acceptable for women to play, like tennis. …

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