Thursday, 2 August 2012

Supporting your children at sport - where are the mothers?

Last week I mentioned Derek Redmond’s dramatic finish in which his father leapt from the stands to help his injured son hobble over the finish line. This week another Olympian’s father made the headlines. Bert le Clos’s pride could not have been evident or more touching than in this interview with the BBC. If he was any more puffed up with glee he’d explode.

Gold for Le Clos
What’s interesting about most high profile sportsmen and women is that in 99% of cases the person who is credited with their success is the father. Tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova, motor-racing champion Lewis Hamilton, football legend David Beckham, the young and brilliant Tom Daley  (although his father has sadly passed away he is credited with much of Daley’s success) - in all of these cases there is intense media focus on the supportive father figure and I started to wonder why the mothers so rarely feature? Are they still around? Are there family issues? Are they camera shy?

Of course there are some exceptions but not that many. Off the top of my head I can think of only two: 1) Judy Murray perhaps garners more publicity than her ex-husband and features more prominently in her both her boys’ tennis careers, and 2) Bradley Wiggins’ father was perhaps the opposite to the ideal supportive parent (although paradoxically it’s suggested that this may have spurred Wiggins to be the sporting hero he is now).

So, is it because the dads are stereotypically more inclined to be involved in a child’s sporting achievements while the mothers are working hard behind the scenes making sure everything else runs smoothly (clean clothes, new trainers, nutritional food, polished trophies)? Please tell me this isn't it? Or are the mothers there but less inclined to fight for media attention, happy to step back and allow the ‘man of the house’ to do the talking? What is it that makes a proud father more newsworthy than a proud mother?

I’m not for one minute saying that the support these sportspeople had when growing up needed to come from one or other parent, but I do think it’s interesting that mothers don’t feature as often and I’d like to know why? I suspect mothers share the duties of fetching and carrying to training and lessons and I certainly don’t think they generally lack enthusiasm or discipline when it comes to sports. Where, then, are the mothers? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Check out this commercial Proctor & Gamble have been showing throughout the Olympics here in the US, thanking Mothers for doing 'the toughest job in the world' will bring tears to your eyes (Or maybe I'm just tired and over emotional!!)

    1. Wow, that is a tearjerker... thanks for sharing x