THE BLOG

Sport Rules, OK?

18/08/2017 14:24 BST | Updated 18/08/2017 14:24 BST

It's been a good summer for sport. I've enjoyed watching and following our national teams. England beat India (and Australia!) to win the World Cup in cricket. In the football, England lost to the Netherlands in the semis of Euro 2017 (thankfully not Germany in a penalty shootout). In the IAAF World Championships, the Brits made a good show with new talent. Yes, I'm talking about women's sport. Strange how the default is always that it's a men's team.

Sport is the last bastion of overt discrimination. Only recently have women been allowed to join the (men's) club at the hallowed homes of golf and cricket. Women's sport received less air time and page coverage both print and internet (the BBC Sport website has one tab labelled "Women" in each category of sport among many for the men's equivalent). There's usually less prize money and funding (kudos to the All England Lawn Tennis Club for having equal prize money for a few years now).

Such a situation is often defended with the business argument that there simply isn't the demand to watch women's sport. This summer, the doubters are starting to be proven wrong. Lord's was sold out for the World Cup Final with millions watching on TV. We actively followed the football, debating the semi-final ex-post and the manner of loss the next morning on the Today Programme.

I hope this extra coverage and hype surrounding women's sports this summer with pique the interest of more girls to get them interested in taking up and persisting with sport since the benefits are massive. You learn about dedication and team work as well as the importance of good communication - listening as well as speaking. Later, sport can give team captains their first taste of management and trying to motivate colleagues. Of course, there are the obvious benefits of improved physical health and sense of well-being as well as the social aspects.

I started playing and competing in sport from a young age, including basketball and football on mixed teams and athletics, softball, and skiing against other girls and women. I was never at the top, but always steadily competent. This set me up well for later in life. In grad school, I played pick-up basketball with my mostly male colleagues and learned cricket when I came to England. Now, I am a regular runner and compete a few times a year (I was the highest finishing female veteran in my last race, the 10K Endurance Life Coastal Trail race at Pembrokeshire a few months ago).

When going for a job, someone who has played sport competitively stands out form other candidates. Continuing to play sport not only brings health benefits but also a group of friends with shared interests. Following and discussing sports results are a natural bonding experience. Who in the course of a working day between August and May doesn't at least once hear a discussion about the results or prospects of the local football team? I find it's useful to have some idea what's going on in the Premier League to have a few non-work points of discussion with colleagues and work associates.

What next? The Rugby World Cup is ongoing where England are defending their title from 2014. Good Luck England!