My Personal Journey into the Changing Attitudes in Sports
I was brought up in the 1970’s which was not the glorious time that some people are making it out to be. Starting my working life in the 80’s I saw and experienced good and bad things in the workplace and always tried to call it out when I felt empowered or compelled to do so. When I first started working at Purple Monster in the very early 2000’s we used to do an exercise called Guess the Attitude. It revealed so much…in the words people chose, in their body language and in the tone of voice that people employed, so much was revealed in this slightly exaggerated game of reality.
One of the key things we used to talk about then, and is still relevant now, is that you can’t simply ask people to change their attitude, and everything will be alright. There are thousands of reasons why those attitudes exist. But changing the context means that an attitude change is more possible. Covid taught us that. Remote working no longer was a luxury or privilege of the few, it became the only way for many of us. Now, how your attitude towards it changed, and has maybe altered since, is a personal matter for each individual. But the context changed, and attitudes shifted too.
I can’t put my finger on what has changed the attitude around Women’s Sport, but I know that my own attitude changed when I saw both my daughter and son grow up enjoying sports. Seeing them enjoy both playing and watching multiple sports seemed no different to me. But the coaching was more widespread for boys, the access to sport was easier for boys yet the passion, commitment and love for the sport was no different in my daughter than in my son. Then coaching for girls began to improve, access began to improve and crucially role models began to emerge that girls, boys, women and men could look up to, admire and hope to emulate.
This weekend I sat with my 87-year-old mother watching and utterly immersed in Women’s football, Women’s cricket and the Women’s golf Open Championship, all the time What’s Apping my children and their partners, as we were all gripped by the action. Apparently, the men’s Premier League started as well. I’ll get into that too, in the next few weeks, but for now, The Lionesses progress is paramount in our house, at least.
There are still some hard-wired old attitudes that need to be encouraged to shift in some places but broadly, at least here in the UK, we are seeing a permanent shift to participation, reporting, officiating and career opportunities in Women’s Sport.
Attitudes are so important. We all know what it means when someone says, ‘they have a great attitude’. The attitudes of the 1970’s and 80’s are thankfully no longer acceptable in most forward-thinking workplaces and that helps to equalise opportunity for everybody. Long may that be the case and may we all continue to question, challenge, and develop. Go Sports!