Society Magazine

I Am Proud to Throw Like a Girl

Posted on the 06 April 2015 by Juliez

female athletes deserve recognition

Female professional athletes in this nation do not get the recognition they deserve. As a female athlete who competes at the collegiate level, I know first hand that women’s sports just do not get the same amount of attention that men’s sports do in this country.

Female athletes certainly put the same amount of time and effort into our training, but we don’t reap the same benefits because of the legacy of a vicious cycle that positions women’s sports as inferior to men’s. As an athlete, it’s hard enough to commit myself to a team day in and day out, but it is even tougher when there are minimal fans to cheer the team on. For example, my college’s women’s lacrosse games get less than half the fans of the men’s games, and the fans that do turn up are not nearly as rowdy. It makes a difference: Loud fans are awesome and make us want to play harder, and frankly, they intimidate our opposing team.

In order for women’s teams to attract fans, the media needs to more avidly publicize these games more avidly. But the media will give these teams limited airtime until they have a broad enough fan base. In a Boston Globe article titled “Why Do Fans Ignore Women’s Pro Sports?”, Sports Analyst Shira Springer discusses different professional female teams in the Boston area and their struggles with local, and of course national recognition. Fans across the teams fall into the same patterns: They want to root for the bigwig male teams with star players all over the country. I mean, women’s teams are up against the likes of Big Papi and Tom Brady, right?  People can’t seem to break the loyalties they’ve created over the years. As a result, professional male teams get more attention, building their market and their exposure.

The Breakers, Boston’s National Women’s Soccer League team, is a great example of this. The team had an operating budget of $1.3 million last season. To put this into perspective, this is less than 10% of what Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz makes in a year! With this $1.3 million, the team is expected to pay the players, the coaches, and pay for marketing. As Lee Billiard, the general manager for the Breakers, says, “It’s a constant battle, and it’s a battle that we are never going to win. But we can put up a good fight and we can do better than what we are doing right now.” A good fight is not sufficient when we are not playing on a level playing field!

Male athletics are shown regularly all over television and the internet. Professional, college, and even high school male sports contests are streamed on television.  The only time a female athlete gets equal coverage is when a girl, like Little League starting pitcher Mo’ne Davis rises to stardom on a boy’s team. Sure, there’s ESPNW, but why is there one separate website and channel for all female sports and half a dozen channels covering male sports? Clearly ESPN is demonstrating to the public that female athletics are not good enough to share channels with male athletics.

We need to change this nonsense and start treating female athletes all over the country as first class citizens. Let’s get female contests streamed live. Let’s get as many professional female as male athletes on the front of Frosted Flakes boxes. It’s a monumental task, but we can each do our part. Attend a women’s athletic event in your school or community. Once you’re there, get loud and rowdy! We deserve love and support, too. And if you care about this issue like I do, join the Women’s Sports Foundation and advocate for equal pay and equal presence throughout professional sports. Help make a change for all female athletes.

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