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Reporting Diversity: the importance of spreading the good news

Bobby Macumber shares how highlighting diversity in sports reports is integral when working towards an inclusive community, and how she is part of the charge.

Bobby, second from left, at a community sport Pride function. Image: supplied.
Bobby, second from left, at a community sport Pride function with Fiona Newton, Emma Kearney, Emily Fox and Chyloe Kurdas. Image: supplied.

I grew up loving sport; both watching and playing. Mainly playing, but it took a few years for me to realise that I was able to play certain sports as a girl.

I would watch both of my brothers play football on the weekend and run the boundary for their teams, finding any way possible to be a part of the game that I loved so much.

My family would travel every weekend to support my older brother play local footy, we’d watch AFL on TV and as much as I’d hoped to be able to play football one day, I saw no other women or girls playing the game at a local or elite level, I didn’t hear anyone talking about it on the TV or radio; I guess running the boundary was as good as it would get for me.

Twenty-five years later, things have changed dramatically for women’s sport. Although things are better, we’ve still got a long way to go to even the playing field.

Related—Rise Up and Reconnect: why we play sport

I’ve had the opportunity to play women’s AFL at a community level as well as represented Victoria on four occasions, playing alongside some of the country’s best women footballers. I was Operations Manager of the Victorian Women’s Football league for two years, seeing first hand the challenges that many women before me have had to endure, fighting for our right to play the game we love. 

As a professional MC with a background in stand up comedy, I’ve managed to land a dream job as one of the co-hosts of Triple R’s Breakfasters team. Part of my role is to prepare and read the sports reports each day. That’s 5 sports reports per day, 5 days a week. One of the first things my boss encouraged me to do with my sports reports was to include ‘Women, diverse and inclusive stories’—can I get a hell yeah for my boss, please?

Now, sourcing sports reports that include women, diversity and inclusive stories aren’t as simple as getting last weekend’s men’s AFL results or the personal relationship status of the League’s leading goalkicker, but they are there. You just have to spend a bit more time and prioritise the importance of sharing these stories with the public. Thankfully, prior to this new role, I have been sourcing this kind of information most of my life because of my passion for women’s sport.

Most sports reports consist of 2 or 3 short stories; each report including at least one women’s story and/or other gender diverse or inclusive stories. I’m not going to lie, my reports tend to be ‘female’ heavy.

Here’s an example of one day preparing the morning’s sports report during the Olympics. I was overwhelmed with choice with what our women were doing in Tokyo alongside so much happening around it. 

6.30 – Men’s Bronze Swim, Women’s Gold Swim & AFL

7.00 – Ash Barty, Matildas & Boomers

7.30 – Women’s Gold Swim, Hockeyroos, AFLW Draft

8.00 – Women’s Golf, Men’s Bronze Swim & Boomers

8.30 – Women’s Gold Swim, Matildas, Ash Barty

Related—The time to rise women’s footy up

I also love a good news story; who doesn’t right? So then the Australian Women’s cricket team had two players whose partner’s were expecting their first child, you bet I was going to share the wonderful news! Yes, the majority of my reports are about results or upcoming information about a match, but these athletes are also humans, just like us, and they too can get a bit excited about the prospect of becoming parents. Not only that, but they are celebrating being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community; double the reason to share and celebrate these sports stories.

New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard became the first transgender athlete picked to compete at an Olympics; another important story that needed to be told and heard.

Personally, I would have appreciated hearing anything about women’s sport in the media when I was younger—let alone hearing about some of the athlete’s personal stories so openly and them being celebrated. I believe people can connect to people more through personal stories. Stories help people to relate, which in turn connects them to the athlete in that story.

There have recently been a large number of stories relating to athletes being racially abused on social media. It’s heartbreaking to see what some athletes are being subjected to, but it’s also important to share these stories so people are aware of the ongoing fight against racism. The Black Lives Matter movement is not a phase, unfortunately, it’s a day-to-day fight for so many.

As a woman who identifies as gay with a mixed-race background (Pacific Islander-Australian), I’ve experienced discrimination by simply doing what I love. Playing sport with little opportunity as a young girl and being racially abused at inter-school sports in high school. This is why I feel it’s even more important to share these stories in the media and through my sports reports. My hope is that people who may not have experienced discrimination personally can understand and educate themselves through these stories.

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