Gabby’s goal for Match Of The Day
As one of the unmistakable faces of BBC Sport, Gabby Logan is looking forward to a long and busy summer – one that she hopes can make a lasting difference to the way we watch and enjoy top-level competition. She will be hosting the Corporation’s coverage of three major tournaments that for the first time put women’s sports at the centre of prime-time TV schedules – next month’s Fifa Women’s World Cup, the Women’s Ashes cricket series and the Netball World Cup in July.
For Logan, who will be joined as anchorwoman by her colleagues Sue Barker and Clare Balding, the promotion of women to the premier league of TV sport is long overdue. ‘It’s been a long time coming,’ she says, ‘but this is not tokenistic. Nobody is saying, “Oh, go on. Let’s put women’s sport on.” We will be watching top-class sport and seeing women excelling.’
Logan works out most days, but stresses it’s not because she feels she has to conform to a certain image. ‘I used to be an international gymnast, so I have always done it,’ she says
She also hopes the presence of international women’s sport on TV will inspire more young people of both genders to participate in sport. ‘I have recently signed a petition to make it compulsory to have daily sport sessions in primary school,’ she says. Her own children, twins Reuben and Lois, 13, are, unsurprisingly perhaps, both sporty.
‘It doesn’t take a genius to work out if you have kids playing a lot of sport then they are less likely to get involved in the horrendous things we are seeing at the moment with young kids and knife crime – all those insidious and really dangerous things that are happening to young people.’
As evidence, she cites the huge changes her generation of women have brought to the previously male bastion of TV sport. ‘When I first started out at Sky in 1996, I was pretty much a lone she-wolf with hardly anyone working in all areas of sport television. Now you’ve got female executives, producers and presenters. The industry has changed, grown and evolved. At the same time, there are more women being paid to be sports professionals. If you judge it on the basis of money, then now has to be the best time for women in sports.’
The changing of the TV guard – Logan has presented Match Of The Day, Final Score and The Premier League Show – has also seen the prehistoric views of some of the older generation of footballing alpha males become unacceptable – in 2011, Richard Keys and Andy Gray were, of course, famously hauled off air after being caught discussing whether female officials knew the ‘offside rule’. Logan won’t be drawn on her own battles with sexist behaviour, but says: ‘There has been a huge change and it’s become a lot more inclusive because of that. I would love to see Match Of The Day with a female editor and female director too. Maybe even regular female pundits.’
When I started at Sky I was pretty much a lone shewolf. The industry has evolved…
As a TV host, Logan is forthright and authoritative. It helps that her sporting credentials are beyond reproach: as a gymnast, she represented Wales in the Commonwealth Games. Her father is Welsh footballing legend Terry Yorath and she is married to Scottish rugby international Kenny Logan.
You can tell she’s serious when she reiterates her support for women stars such as Martina Navratilova and Sharron Davies, who have come under fire from the LGBT lobby for saying that transgender women had an unfair advantage in sport. ‘I understand it’s a very sensitive subject for transgender women,’ she says. ‘Nobody is going to have a definitive answer, but we do need to create a fair playing field. It’s about the science here. We have come such a long way and we need to try to protect women’s sport.’
She’s equally forthright when it comes to that other great division in TV and sport alike – age. ‘I would take great offence at being called an older woman,’ the 46-year-old insists when asked if women in their 40s are better represented on TV. ‘We are supposed to be working until we are in our 70s, which puts me in the middle of my career. Gary Lineker is 12 years older than me…’
Logan works out most days, but stresses it’s not because she feels she has to conform to a certain image on television.
‘I used to be an international gymnast, so I have always done it,’ she says. ‘Five hours a week is not a hardship and I feel so much better mentally and physically. I want to be the weight and health I am now in 20 years’ time. I don’t look at it like I am getting in shape for a swimsuit. I am getting in shape for life.’
Meanwhile, Logan hopes the BBC’s summer of women’s sport will become a permanent fixture. ‘I want mums, dads, aunts and lads to watch the women’s sports together – that’s my dream and that is what I will imagine when I am standing in front of the cameras at the Fifa Women’s World Cup.’
Follow the Women’s World Cup on the BBC from June 7 on TV, radio and online