Sport Nine star's blow-up over 'cheap' WAGs name

10:16  19 august  2020
10:16  19 august  2020 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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Nine's star sports presenter James Bracey is the consummate professional, meaning that he leaves opinions to athletes or former players.

He just made an exception: Bracey loathes the term 'WAGs' and would like it scrapped, branding it "cheap".

The acronym, which carries sexist connotations towards the wives and girlfriends of athletes, has made a resurgence in recent weeks due to AFL biosecurity breaches committed by the partners of players. While the breaches have been real and unfortunate, the WAGs term has been quickly applied with obvious allusions.

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WAGs is still frequently used in reference to the partners of NRL stars and Australian male cricketers. It remains a rampant terminology when discussing the glamorous partners of high-profile, big-money footballers.

Breaking from the norm in his weekly Wide World of Sports discussion with ex-Wallaby and top columnist Peter FitzSimons, Bracey took the lead and called for the WAGs term to be consigned to the dust-bin.

"I am very passionate about this. I think it's high time this is being discussed here in this segment," Bracey said on Five Minutes with Fitzy, referring to the below Twitter post from The Age sports reporter Daniel Cherny, which he 'liked'.


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"I've thought it for [ages]. He was speaking my language. I cannot stand it.

"It's splashed on front pages all the time, women who are either married or partners of male sports stars being given a title. If you (FitzSimons) went and watched [wife] Lisa [Wilkinson] compete in an event, what's your title?"

FitzSimons answered: "Partner."

Bracey: "Exactly.Why can't they just be partners? Why do we have to call them WAGs, wives and girlfriends? It's just cheap."

a man standing in front of a screen: Nine Wide World of Sports presenter James Bracey makes his point on 'WAGs' to Peter FitzSimons. © Nine Nine Wide World of Sports presenter James Bracey makes his point on 'WAGs' to Peter FitzSimons.

FitzSimons admitted that he was not initially opposed to the use of 'WAGs'.

"When this first came up, I thought, 'Who cares? That's what you call them'," FitzSimons said.

FitzSimons then sought counsel from his Sports Sunday colleague Liz Ellis, the Australian netball icon and leading voice on equality in sport.

"My first blush on the whole thing, it's fine," FitzSimons said.

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"When the camera pans across to the wives and girlfriends of the Test cricketers on Boxing Day, there they are, what is it that you want Mark Taylor to say they are?"

Bracey: "The partners. The partners of the cricketers."

FitzSimons: "When I think about it for longer than five seconds I get what you're on about but I must say, prior to that, it hadn't occurred to me that this was particularly [contentious].

"Liz's point is, you're defining women by their relationship to the males. And the interesting thing, the reverse, there is no husbands and boyfriends; there's no HABs. When we see the women's cricket team or whatever, that is not a term."

FitzSimons pondered whether an outdated media mindset that once accepted the Page 3 girl had lingered, in the ongoing use of terminology such as WAGs and the scrutiny applied to players' partners.

"... Is ingrained in focusing on the attractive wives and girlfriends of the male players," FitzSimons said.

Bracey and FitzSimons extended the debate to whether cheerleaders were still an appropriate part of Australian sport. The employment of female cheerleaders in skimpy outfits has waned within elite sport but still exists as part of some game-day experiences, including with NRL clubs.

"My thing on cheerleaders - do we really have to do in Australia, women going 'rah, rah, rah, beauty, beauty, beauty'?" FitzSimons said.

"When we've got little girls growing up, we want little Australian girls to look at Tayla Harris, to look at Ash Barty; 'This is who I could be'. Ellyse Perry; 'This is who I could be', rather than going 'rah, rah, rah'."

Bracey replied: "I was of your view, 'Why do it?' But when you talk to women who are actually cheerleading, it is an industry.

"They're passionate about it. Whether it's an outlet for them, an earn, or it's dancing, it's fitness; it ticks all the boxes for them.

"To be honest, probably at my core, I'm not [fine with it]. But I have spoken with them , because I spend a lot of time on the sidelines at the footy, and they love what they do."

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