First female commentator on Match of the Day

// 19 April 2007

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The world of professional sport has long been dominated by the male of the species, so much so that images of men running around with their shirts over their heads, (showcasing sweaty furry armpits that precipitate flashbacks to Danger Mouse), are hard to separate from any allusions to football itself.

But, maybe a change is in the air? According to a report by MSN, TV history will be made this weekend when 32-year-old Jacqui Oatley becomes the first ever female commentator on BBC One’s flagship sports show Match of the Day.

Oatley will take the microphone during the match between Blackburn and Fulham, making her the only woman to do so in the 43-year history of the programme. Oatley herself was an avid football player, although she had to abandon hopes of a professional career owing to a knee injury.

She remarks of her Match of the Day debut that:

“I don’t think of it as breaking down barriers for women in sport. I do it for the same reason as any bloke does. I love my football.”

This attitude is encouraging, since Oatley is not showing gratitude for what many would consider her ‘privilege’ of holding a position in a predominantly male dominated industry, but is instead confident that she was worthy of the job for the same reasons a man would be, and this is what equality is all about. Equality is realising that we have qualities and skills and passions that we want to pursue irrespective of our gender, with our achievements not always having to be calculated and quantified relative to whether or not we wear a bra or have to stand up to use the bog.

What Oatley, as well as women like Gabby Logan and Helen Chamberlain, have done is ensure that the transition of women into the tele-visual sporting world will be slightly easier, demonstrating that it is a career path to which young women, as well as men, can aspire.

Photo by MarkHaertl, shared under a Creative Commons License

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