I recently received a phonecall which offered me an opportunity to make some real change, to work with the sports community in a way which could bring about some positive differences. More on that later. For now, I want to mention one of the primary reasons I was given for being suitable for the role.
Aside from some very kind and flattering comments about my organisational skills, my dedication, and my tractability (they clearly haven’t seen me before 10 a.m.!), I was put forward for the role due to my – I paraphrase here, but only a little – lack of a wife. Of course, this was intended as a lighthearted quip, but as with many such comments there is a significant underlying factor here.
I have seen this played out within the sports community more widely, with players often stating they will play a future match ‘if the wife allows it’, or referencing nagging or chores (as I mentioned in my post on senior cricketers). Of course it’s important to check with your partner about future plans, but the sentiment here relates to a sense that men have fun unless their wives put a stop to it, as if marriage is a limitation of male fun rather
than a shared enterprise.
It does also lead me to wonder how many women are able to go out and do sport on a Saturday when their husband does not, rather than both doing it as part of a sporty couple who then co-ordinate childcare. Women who choose to have children are especially affected by this, as their maternity period affects sports more than most activities, and returning after giving birth is especially tough.
In any case, as of next season, I will be in charge of umpiring appointments for my county in hockey. This should allow me to ensure that competitive and important matches receive high-quality umpires regardless of gender, and I will certainly hope to encourage more women to progress in umpiring. Any other thoughts on ways to use this role to aid social progressiveness will be gratefully received!