Own goal for Sports Direct

Dear Sports Direct,

Thank you for sending me another giant mug that I do not need and a magazine that seems to assume most of your customers are male. When I placed the order for football boots and socks, I saw that you had pulled your trick again of sneaking another item on the bill and was glad to see that you had the decency to allow me to press ‘the remove from bill button’. Last time it took me so long to figure out how to remove the unwanted items, that I gave up. This time round, however, it still snuck its way back onto the check-out section.

Searching for and finding football boots on your website wasn’t great. The only way to navigate the boots on offer was to click individually on each brand. One brand appeared to have wiped out 50 per cent of the population when displaying boots for ‘men’ and ‘boys’. I can’t remember exactly when women started playing football but I’m pretty sure it has been a while, so you might want to update your records, hence why my daughter is playing football (and why I was searching for football boots).

My daughter loves her new boots but i’m glad she didn’t read the magazine. I had a glance through it and came across the double page about Andy Murray playing tennis in ‘a dream world’ where all the ball girls are models. Next to the article was a full page picture of a woman in lingerie. It ended with a ‘loaded magazine’ style leer about this particularly scantily clad woman appearing on the tennis courts in future and once again the writer mused at ‘what a dream world’ that would be. To avoid ‘sexism’ he inserted the word ‘ball-boys’ although the picture of Andy Murray surrounded by lots of pretty ball girls did not include boys as well so that was an extremely lazy attempt to avoid being sexist.

Two things irritated me about this article. First, the writer assumed the readership is male and heterosexual (I am not a lesbian so, being a heterosexual woman, I do not consider female models being ball girls a ‘dream world’. Lets stick to boys and girls, preferably those kids who thoroughly deserve to get close to the action in professional tennis.) Second, I had to close the magazine when my daughter walked into the room as I was worried about her reading the article and thinking a man’s job is to play a professional sport and a woman’s job is to look good on the side-lines.

The magazine has now taken its rightful place in the recycling bin.

So in writing this letter, I expect you to think about the following:

– Review your customer base, particularly for football goods (I think you will find some of them are female)

– review your editorial policy for the magazine (I am assuming the editor is male, if so he should know better)

– stop putting items in the online basket that have not been selected by the customer

I hope you will take my comments on board.

If not I will shop elsewhere and forward this letter to a few people who may test the capabilities of your PR department.

With regards

Tom Marter


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