Are we guilty of playing nice with our sportswomen?
Swifts vice-captain Susan Pratley takes on Kayla Cullen of the Mystics in last year's ANZ Championships. Photo: Getty
Are we soft on our sportswomen when things don’t go their way? And, if we are, is that letting them down?
I pondered these questions this week thinking about the NSW Swifts, whose season begins next week but whose roster, on paper, looks less impressive than last year’s.
Gone are internationals Catherine Cox and Rebecca Bulley, as well as midcourters Courtney Tairi and Ashleigh Brazill.
Sure, the Swifts have retained four international players - co-captains Mo’onia Gerrard and Kimberlee Green and vice-captain Susan Pratley, along with former England captain Sonia Mkoloma – as well as a couple of handy players.
If they were a footy team, we would expect a ‘‘rebuilding year’’, code for ‘‘we have no great expectations’’. Within three weeks of the season starting there would be calls for someone's head. Think Parramatta Eels.
Gerrard calls the Swifts' situation a ‘‘growing phase’’ but still expects her team to finish in the top three.
Sometimes the pressure comes from within. Prior to the women’s soccer World Cup last year Matildas striker Kyah Simon stated her goal for the tournament was the win the World Cup and the Golden Boot. She won neither though, at 20, she will have at least two more chances. More than that, she told the Herald recently that she was disappointed Australia had not progressed beyond the quarter-finals. Most had considered it a reasonable result - that the world’s No.10 team made the last eight. Certainly there was less criticism of the Matildas than Olyroos when both failed to make this year's London Olympics despite the Matildas' higher world ranking.
Are we less critical because women tend to be more gracious losers than men? Or is it because we feel compelled to not offend them? Is that just because they're nice?
I'd like to know your thoughts in the comments below.