Is There a Future for Women in Sports?
You have to be blind to not see the difference in men's and women's sports coverage. I mean, just turn on ESPN or open a newspaper. Did you even know there is a professional softball league? I've often wondered why women don't get more coverage. Fortunately, within the last decade or so, women have been gaining ground in the sports field. But how do we ensure there is a future for women in sports?
The passing of Title IX mandated equal federal funding opportunities towards male and female students, which opened more doors for women in college sports. The London 2012 Olympic Games featured, for the first time in history, an equal number of sports for women as for men. My long time role model, Jessica Mendoza, was the first female commentator for a Major League Baseball game in the history of ESPN in 2015. In 2019, New York Mets announced that Mendoza is joining the club in a baseball operations advisory role. March 2019, twenty-eight members of the world champion United States women’s soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit.
There is a shift happening, just slower than I would like to see it.
One challenge I see is that of femininity. Sports are hot, sweaty, and competitive. Parents tend to worry about acceptance and their daughters not conforming to the cultural norm. It's also easy for young girls to fall in to peer pressure. It's like as soon as a woman hits 25, it's time to find a husband and have babies. But that is changing. Seems like our prime years of playing (18-22) are spent playing college ball. Nothing wrong with that, but what if women played professionally during their prime years??
Another challenge is sustainability. Is there income and security in women's sports? There are currently very few investments in them. And I get it. Why would companies want to run ads for something that does not get many views. Marketing for women's sports needs to step up its game.
A third challenge is the lack of women in leadership roles.
Is there any benefit to playing sports as a woman?
1. Women who play sports have something healthy to focus on outside of school. Exercise improves learning, memory, and concentration, which can give women an advantage when it comes to the classroom. If you have trouble getting to the gym, there is more incentive to show up and play if you know your coaches or teammates depend on you.
2. Women who play sports learn teamwork, goal-setting and time management skills. Working with coaches, trainers, and teammates to win games and meet goals is great practice for success later in life.
3. Playing sports builds self-confidence physically and socially. It helps to build confidence and resilience.
4. Exercise is a stress reliever. Playing sports can help you deal with it. Plus, when you are on a team, you have friends who support you both on and off the field.
There is so much potential growth for women in sports. The more women become involved in sports, the more demand there will be for screen time. 10 years from now, where do you see women in sports? How can women grow faster in the sports field? I see more women commentators, more college women's tv coverage, and higher pay for women in sports. It's only a matter of time.