Actions speak louder than words. Women Worth Watching. Both sayings so simple a child could grasp their meaning yet somehow apparently beyond the comprehension of many grown adults.
Ahead of last week’s US Women’s Open, host broadcaster NBCUniversal was part of the USGA’s noble ‘Women Worth Watching’ campaign.
The most important title in women’s golf was the perfect vehicle for the launch and the dedicated webpage set up to help make the case was excellent.
But remember, actions speak louder than words and when push came to shove on day two of the tournament, broadcasters were found wanting.
Tee times were moved up because of expected bad weather but TV times were not. Instead, those tuning in to see the best women players in the world compete for a meaningful title were treated to a PGA Tour exhibition at the QBE Shootout.
"Sadly, what this past week tells us is that despite painfully slow movement in the right direction there is still a long way to go for women in golf."
There were no doubt contractual issues at play here and no doubt some readers will be gnashing their teeth at my apparent inability to understand the realities of the TV business.
But to those people I simply ask: under similar circumstances, would this have happened at Winged Foot in 2020?
The answer to both is ‘no’. Which begs the question: Why the difference?
My teeth gnashing friends will be apoplectic at this point explaining how market forces work and that men’s golf is in higher demand than women’s and that the business realities dictate this is how it is.
But to them I say bollocks. Remember how actions speak louder than words? NBC Universal’s actions this past week spoke loud and clear.
Doing what’s right is often not easy and occasionally even has financial implications. But that’s the whole point: it’s about doing what’s right, not just what’s profitable.
There are all sorts of reasons for the business realities my teeth gnashing friends are so quick to point to.
But pointing out the reasons for discrimination does not address the problem nor make said discrimination OK.
In fact, constantly making excuses about the business case for gender discrimination actually enables and encourages its continuation.
If a business case could make things that are demonstrably wrong suddenly right we would have no warning labels on cigarette packets or government campaigns discouraging smoking.
Sadly, what this past week tells us is that despite painfully slow movement in the right direction (which is at least encouraging even if the glacial place is frustrating) there is still a long way to go for women in golf.
On the up-side, NBCUniversal’s misstep this past week might actually become a positive in the long term.
Ultimately, scrutiny of this sort of discrimination is what will help eliminate it in the future. Eventually.