BBC Sport recently announced that they would be broadcasting the final day of this year’s Roller Derby World Cup, held in Manchester, on the BBC Sport website.
This announcement by BBC Sport was met with an outcry from self-proclaimed sport fans on social media, who saw the inclusion of an additional sport as a clear sign of decline for BBC Sport.
Those sport fans who managed to find the roller derby announcement amongst the dozens of posts about football, rugby and tennis that day, proclaimed how the inclusion of a single Roller derby event had effectively ruined BBC Sport for everyone.
Paul from Slough commented:
“Roller Derby is not a real sport.
It doesn’t have the athleticism of football, darts, snooker or other sports that are currently shown regularly on BBC Sport.”
“The uniforms those girls wear, with their short shorts and tank tops, just don’t look serious and athletic.
Nothing like a classic rugby shirt that makes you look like the glorious bumblebee that you are.”
“It’s not about sexism, it’s just that roller derby in particular is not a real sport”, commented Gavin from Hull, who would also never watch women’s football or women’s rugby.
“If we include roller derby, then what is next? The Triwizard Tournament? The Hunger Games? It’s a slippery slope.
We already have all the sport diversity we need with football, darts, and the roughly five different kinds of rugby-like sports currently shown on BBC Sport.”
When asked about the importance of equality and inclusiveness in sports, sports fan Simon from Blackpool commented:
“Whenever I watch the footie, my wife gets to fetch me beer and snacks. If that’s not inclusiveness in sports, what is?”
“I’m all for inclusion.”, said Matt from Milton Keynes, “I watched the heck out of women’s Olympic beach volleyball.”
“The idea that women might do something that isn’t for my entertainment is unsettling.”
“I just don’t see why my licence fees should pay for this?”, said Steve from Bradford whose licence fees also pay for a lot of other stuff on the BBC that he does not watch, like say, news or documentaries.
Dave from Walsall commented: “The idea that football might not be the most important thing in everyone’s life scares me and my fragile ego. If football is not important, maybe neither am I?”
Responding to the criticisms, BBC sport commented:
“We are happy to show Roller Derby.
It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with a particularly exciting viewer experience and with a World Cup held in Britain this year.”
“We are only showing the final day, and therefore the highest-level match-ups at this event and we are only showing it on the website.”
“We also made sure to use a picture of male roller derby players to represent the sport on our website to not scare our usual fan base too much.”
“Yesterday alone, we updated our viewers on over 300 football matches of various levels, as well as player transfers, birthdays and court dates.”
“If BBC Sport can show every move of the U17 section of Bumbletown Football Club then we think it is also fine to occasionally show the very highest level of other sports.”
“If you don’t like it, then on the 4th of February, instead of armchair warrioring on our social media, don your best smart-casual rugby shirt attire, take your fragile masculinity, go outside, tweedledum down to the local park and maybe play in or engage with one of those sports you apparently care for so much.”
“And for the rest of you, come and watch the Roller Derby World Cup on Sunday, 4th of February live on the BBC Sport website and connected TVs.”