Don't write off diversity in sport… Britain is full of black superstars and we need more in the media | The Sun

TODAY the Black Collective of Media in Sport is partnering with The Sun’s owner News UK for a special conference.

BCOMS founder, campaigner and film-maker LEON MANN, explains their mission.

Stories of racism, discrimination and division have dominated the headlines in sport in recent days.

Lewis Hamilton being abused by Nelson Piquet in F1 and Luther Burrell lifting the lid on racism in rugby are just two examples.

But the fact they are being covered by the media is an indication that these issues are increasingly seen as important.

It hasn’t always been like this.

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There was a time when horrific abuse would happen and everyone would turn a blind eye.

In press conferences and post-match interviews, rarely would one question be asked by the media, let alone be reported.

In 2022, that rarely happens because journalists — regardless of their backgrounds — won’t let it.

Today News UK is hosting a conference on diversity in the sports media.

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The sports editor, executive vice-president and writers from this newspaper will contribute from the stage at the D Word 4 conference.

As the founder of BCOMS, a group set up to help increase diversity in the industry, I’m delighted this is the case.

Some readers might ask, ‘Why does it matter what colour, gender or background journalists are?’.

Others may dismiss the very idea of this conference as ‘woke’. (When did being awake become an issue, by the way?).

And I don’t want to sidestep these questions. So here is why it matters.

Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the Euros included 11 players of black or mixed heritage — that’s 42 per cent of the squad.

A recent study by the Black Footballers Partnership found 43 per cent of players in the Premier League are black.

Hamilton is the country’s leading light in F1.

From Anthony Joshua to Dina Asher-Smith, boxing and athletics feature so many black superstars proudly representing our country.

These are just a few examples from the black community. But in short, sport is largely wonderfully diverse.

Sports journalism, however, is not.

In 2018 just one black sports writer travelled to Russia to cover the World Cup and BCOMS research  found that just two black writers and three women across the industry covered the Euros last summer from the written press.

Meanwhile, women made up 35 per cent of the broadcast media bringing us coverage of the biggest sporting events in 2021.

Your background informs how you see and experience the world. So this impacts how stories are told.

Stars such as Hamilton and Raheem Sterling have bravely called this out.

I would feel uncomfortable if sports with large numbers of white working-class men were not being covered by journalists from a white background.

And this principle applies to all people — black, white, Asian, minority ethnic, LGBT, male, female and those with disabilities.

And above all, by  having a truly diverse group of people working together, all the research shows this enhances performance. So better products and services.

This is why I feel it is great to see talented female Sun sports writers from historically under-represented groups such as Sandra Brobbey and Isabelle Barker.

They are the present and future of our industry.

Things are changing — it is almost impossible to find TV sports broadcasts in this country without diverse contributors.

But more progress is needed across all areas of the industry and the conference today will call for this.

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