March 15, 2024
Trish Arab

Women's History Month Focus on Women's Sports (2 minute read)

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Every March, we celebrate the accomplishments of women throughout history. However, over the past few years, women in sports have taken the month to make history for themselves. Last year, the month saw the height of the National Women's Soccer League fighting for pay equity - a feat they would achieve a month later, forever changing the landscape in regards to equal pay for female professional athletes on the soccer pitch and across other sports.

This year, we started off Women's History Month with college basketball superstar Catlin Clark breaking the NCAA's all-time leading scorer record in men's and women's college basketball. The Iowa Hawkeyes Senior started the game needing 18 points to break the record previously held by "Pistol" Pete Maravich, a Louisiana State University star who earned the nickname after scoring 3,667 points from 1967 to 1970. She only needed until the second quarter to get it done.

The Nike ad campaign released right after the game with Ms. Clark's image says it best "It takes a once-in-a-generation player to break a record that's stood for generations." 

This year really is shaping up to be a huge one for women in sport. The new Professional Women's Hockey League kicked off its inaugural season in January. At the upcoming Olympics Games, there will be an equal number of male and female athletes, a first in the history of the Games.

Deloitte forecasts that in 2024, for the first time, women's elite sports will generate a revenue that surpasses $1 billion — a 300% increase on the industry's evaluation in 2021.

It's hard to say why there is this sudden surge in popularity of women's sports. Some say it is thanks to stand outs like Catlin Clark, and tennis phenom Coco Gauff who are attracting new viewers to their sports, while coaches and sports executives say it is because of new investments and sponsorship opportunities.

That said, in 2023, only 22% of all top decision-making positions in the national EU federations of the ten most popular sports were held by women. There was not a single woman among the 100 best-paid athletes in the world.

To mark International Women's Day in 2024, Parliament's women's rights committee, in collaboration with the national parliaments of EU countries, held a meeting on the participation and visibility of women in sports. This committee looked for the most part at the Paris Olympics, but a greater discussion was had on how to elevate the visibility of women in sports even higher.   

If we look at some of the records that have already been broken around women in sports, however, one would say we are already there. 

Last year, a Nebraska women's volleyball game broke the record for attendance in North America with 92,000 people.

In the UK, women's football is on the rise, and it is already starting to give the men's game a run for its money when it comes to fans and endorsements, something that isn't new in the UK. In fact, in the early 20th century, women's football was more popular than men's games, and each game would bring in thousands of dollars for charity. The Football Association did not like this attention, which also gave attention to social issues, labour issues, union support and cut access and funding to the women's game in the early 1930s. It is only now, close to 100 years later, that the women have started to gain back the support they lost.

It's hard to predict just how popular women's sports can become, but I'd say we are well on the right track for parity in popularity and then some.