Daily Telegraph: We decide which girlfriend is better

This is one of the main stories on dailytelegraph.com.au today: Michael Clarke’s batting average is an advertisement for a happy home life:

MICHAEL Clarke is the best advertisement for marriage and a settled home life.

His batting average since marrying stunning model Kyly Boldy in May is an equally stunning 263.5

It’s a big improvement on the old soap opera days of the Lara Bingle relationship when he more often appeared in Sydney Confidential than these sporting pages.

This columnist spent Sydney’s glorious Sunday afternoon behind a computer searching cricket records for a Boldy v Bingle comparison.

Boldy bolted in with an average of 75.2 (since their relationship became public at Clarke’s 30th birthday in April 2011) compared with Bingle’s 54.4.

It’s by Phil Rothfield, the Tele‘s sports editor.

This is the photo inside:

Daily Telegraph image with Lara Bingle, Michael Clarke, Kyly Boldy

At the Daily Telegraph, we rank women on their usefulness to men.

Yes, it’s meant to be a bit of fun. I get that. And, yes, the figures are meaningless without indicating how they were calculated. But there’s something else going on here that should worry editors (more on that later).

There’s a weird quote in the piece:

“With Lara, it was all about her,” said one source. “With Kyly it’s all about him.”

One source what? Is it someone on the cricket team? Is it a quote from twitter that you haven’t attributed? Is it another sports journo? Is it the fashion editor? Seriously dude, some context please. I’m also a little worried about the person behind the quote. Any relationship between two people that’s “all about” one person isn’t healthy. No, I’m not saying Clarke’s relationships are unhealthy. What I am saying is that someone who thinks the focus in a relationship should be completely on one person is yet to understand that a relationship between two people involves two people. Gawd, can you imagine going out with someone who thinks like that?

One thing that seems to have escaped Rothfield is Clarke’s age. When he was with Lara Bingle, he was in his 20s. Now he’s in his 30s. From what I know about professional cricket – which, admittedly, isn’t much because boring – most players improve in their late 20s to early 30s, which is why they don’t give the captaincy to a teenager.

Another thing that’s escaped Rothfield is the role his newspaper played in creating that “soap opera”. If they hadn’t published the nude photo of Lara Bingle – the one taken without her consent – there wouldn’t have been a soap opera. If photographers hadn’t been hounding the couple, there wouldn’t have been a soap opera. If News Ltd and Fairfax didn’t publish those photos, the photographers wouldn’t have been hounding them and there wouldn’t have been a soap opera. If News Ltd and Fairfax weren’t publishing opinion pieces saying that she wasn’t good enough for him, there wouldn’t have been a soap opera. How on earth could a young couple function under that sort of intrusion and vitriol?

The rest of Rothfield’s article mentions a couple of other sportsmen who became better at their jobs once they grew up. Apparently this has nothing to do with getting older and realising that they can’t carry on like teenagers anymore because of the hangovers and because the MSM will tell everyone, and everything to do with finding a good woman. Ah, good women versus bad women, in a judgement that’s based purely on whether they make a man better at his job. Someone remind me, what year is it?

Like I said, I’m sure Rothfield’s article is meant to be a bit of fun. I can’t imagine that he actually believes that Clarke’s success is due to his relationship and not to his hard work at training in the almost-two years since he’s been captain. If the former was actually the case, then relationships would be a compulsory part of sporting contracts. “Sorry mate, you might be belting boundaries off every ball, but you can’t be on the team until you get married. Them’s the rules”.

There are a few steps between what was probably a comment at the pub, to spending a day researching something – spending White Ribbon Day working on an article about how women are pretty objects but their real value is in how quiet they are – to submitting it to your editor, who decides that it should be published. And then the person putting the website together overnight decided to put it somewhere prominent, and then the morning editor decided to keep it there, and so did the afternoon editor. At each of these steps, didn’t anyone say, “um, guys, don’t you think this is a little disrespectful?” Or, “don’t you think it’s a little weird to be writing about someone else’s personal life like this?”.

There are currently 41 sports stories on the dailytelegraph.com.au sports homepage (not counting results tables). One is about women’s sport. One. The very last story. And it’s only 206 words:

Only one story features a female athlete. And it’s the very last one, right at the bottom.

Yep, that’s right, a story about sprinklers going off in a game involving no Australian players is considered more important than a story about a female athlete. There’s no mention that an Australian team was in the top four of the International Women’s Club Championship. No mention of the W-League over the weekend. At least smh.com.au has a story, even if they didn’t bother sending a journo (it’s AAP copy).

When you think about why women’s sport doesn’t get a lot of media coverage, it couldn’t possibly be because sports editors and sports journos think women are there to look pretty and shut the fuck up, could it? Because while Rothfield and all those other decision-makers might have thought it was just a funny little article, that’s what it’s really about. Praising the woman who is seen and not heard. Even better if she’s “stunning”. It might be something to think about next time the editors sit down – and they do regularly – and try to find ways to attract more female readers.

18 responses to “Daily Telegraph: We decide which girlfriend is better

  1. Forgive my general grumpiness here- but in essence we’re saying (once again), poor man can’t help himself, it’s the woman that made him crap.

    Ownership, people, it’s a glorious thing!!

  2. Oh for crying out loud. What a ridiculously inappropriate and deeply silly article.
    And I hadn’t even thought of the implications of writing something like this on White Ribbon Day!

    • Yeah, the link is an odd one. In a way they aren’t connected, but when you look at the essence of the piece – that it’s reducing women to objects whose only value is in how useful they are to men – then they are connected.

  3. I know nothing about all this, so forgive if I ask the obvious: What is Clarke’s reaction to all this? I mean, I would be willing to say my wife has been a strong factor in my ability to play better, however, it would not go as far as the article you are speaking of does. How has he reacted?
    Curious minds want to know!

  4. OTOH, I read the whole article hoping it was going to morph into a discussion of how mental well-being affects sporting/work performance. Which is what I thought they were initially getting at, though might show how much science journalism I’ve been reading lately. But no, it’s just another “let’s poke our noses where they don’t belong” exercise.

  5. These guys should stick to commenting on playing sport not playing women off against each other. This kind of journalism is just tiresome. I can’t even muster up any anger… sigh…

  6. Reason #472 to not read The Daily Telegraph

  7. Pingback: The 55th Down Under Feminists Carnival | the news with nipples

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