Sunday, 30 August 2009

Did you know England are European Champions

Yes! we have triumphed, the players are out on the town being showered in glory. We have just beaten the Olympic and World champions, Germany no less. Its true England were today newly crowned as the Hockey champions of Europe. Our team of sleeveless shirt stick swingers won 5-3 in a tense and immensely entertaining final in front of a rapturous crowd in Holland.

Who knew? well nobody in England. The only reason I knew was because my girlfriend plays the game and informed me that England were taking part and had a chance. Why then is this the case? Why is no one in the country being told of its representatives achievements? The simple answer is that the English press refuse to promote minority sports, except when the Olympics is on or when something truly remarkable happens (Usain Bolt for example). In general though the media in the UK hates to take a gamble on sports that aren't Football, Rugby, F1, Tennis, Cricket and Golf. Does this happen in other countries too?

I currently live in Vienna, Austria. Although I realise that the Austrians may struggle to get too excited by their own football league, the media here do treat minority sports differently to their counterparts in the UK. Take the example of beach volley ball. When the Schwaiger sisters beat Germany at the Olympics, Volleyball was actively promoted and reported well after the Olympics by the Austrian media. It is now one of the most socially played sports in the country.

The only two places that I could find coverage of the Hockey this week were the Telegraph and the BBC sport website, and both their coverage was minimal at best. The question is though; Why should we care? We should care because these are the sorts of people who will be challenging for Olympic gold in 2012. If we don't build up their profiles before the games then they will come into the public eye quickly and then disappear even quicker.

The Media has a responsibility to highlight minority sports prior to 2012 and it is also in their interest to do so. Hockey amongst other sports could be turned into a popular sport that could fill column inches throughout the year rather than just during the Olympics.

For this to happen though the British media have to pull their fingers out and start building up all of our London 2012 hope fulls, otherwise we risk wasting this huge opportunity to showcase new and exciting sports to the UK public.

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