“I definitely wasn't kicking the footy with dad. I was usually hanging off trees upside down dreaming of being an acrobat…I sung and I danced and that was my passion in terms of sporting pursuits.
There used to be a show called Young Talent Time… I would use the ad breaks to get changed. I would pretend I was on it. My life's ambition was to be on Young Talent Time.
During those early years I was nothing short of indifferent to footy.”
These days, Sam Lane is an award-winning journalist who specialises in covering the AFL (Australian Football League aka Australian Rules aka Aussie Rules aka what some disparagingly call “aerial ping-pong”) and cycling.
She’s also covered 2 Olympic Games and the Tour de France twice, including Cadel Evan’s famous victory.
Sam has been a member of Channel 7’s AFL television broadcast team since 2013 and has spent the last 15 years writing and talking about footy.
She has recently published a book called “Roar” about the history and launch of the AFLW, the women’s AFL professional competition, in 2017.
What’s remarkable about the AFLW is how quickly it launched after the powers-that-be finally realised the commerciality of it.
And that the AFLW has shifted the culture and conversation about women in sport, both in terms of women playing what’s traditionally seen as a “male” sport but also around sexuality.
So how do you go from being “indifferent” about sport to an award-winning sports journalist?
That’s what I ask her!
In this conversation, we discuss:
* how Friday night tacos with her dad (a veteran football journalist and commentator) resulted in Sam falling in love with the game of AFL,
* that Sam became aware of the contrast between the all-male commentary box and that 50% of the fans at matches were women, and how that led her to pitch herself to her favourite club’s quarterly magazine — while she was still in High School,
* how she manages the criticism and whether she’s struggled with feeling the need to ‘prove’ herself as a woman in sports media,
* why she thinks the AFLW captured the attention of the public so rapidly,
* how the AFLW has changed the conversation and culture in this country in a way no other sport has,
* that each of us have the power to contribute to cultural change,
* the “black sporting hole” which previously existed that forced girls out of AFL from 12 and the implications and loss of potential for the current generational of professional players.
Sam describes the book not as a “women’s footy book” but as a “footy sports culture book”.
And she’s right; the book really highlights the shifting culture when it comes to women playing what are traditionally seen as “male” sports and how it’s changing the conversations we’re having as a society in the process.
Notes and resources:
ROAR by Samantha Lane is published by Penguin Random House Australia and is available now, RRP $34.99.