Women's sports are currently experiencing a remarkable surge in popularity and sponsorship, marking a significant turning point for gender equality in the sporting world. With increased media coverage, growing fan engagement, and corporate sponsorships, it's crucial for individuals and brands to support and promote women's sports in the right way.
How You Can Show Up for Women’s Sports
Acknowledge the Progress
In recent years, women's sports have made tremendous strides, gaining more recognition and acceptance than ever before. According to a report by Nielsen Sports, 84% of general sports fans have an interest in women’s sports. This growth can be attributed to the increased visibility of women's sports events on TV, online streaming platforms, and social media.
To truly support women's sports, it's essential to educate ourselves about the athletes, their achievements, and the challenges they face. Numerous resources provide valuable insights into women's sports history and the current landscape. Websites such as Women's Sports Foundation, ESPNW, and The Women’s Sports Network provide comprehensive coverage and analysis. Additionally, documentaries like Athlete A, in which reporters from The Indianapolis Star expose Dr. Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse young women gymnasts, and books like The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer which covers the complete history of the U.S Women’s National Soccer Team from the 1980s to its 2019 World Cup victory, offer deep dives into the experiences of women athletes.
Be an Active Fan
Attending women's sports events is a powerful way to show support. By purchasing tickets, fans contribute to the overall revenue and help attract more sponsors. The presence of enthusiastic fans also uplifts the athletes' spirits and motivates them to perform at their best. Sharing positive experiences and cheering for women's sports on social media further amplifies the impact.
Advocate for Coverage
Media coverage plays a vital role in driving the growth of women's sports. Encourage media outlets to increase coverage by reaching out to journalists, broadcasters, and sports networks. Share the demand for more women's sports coverage through well-crafted letters, emails, or social media campaigns. By actively engaging with media entities, fans can influence their editorial decisions and promote gender parity in sports coverage.
Invest in Women's Sports Merchandise
Purchasing official merchandise from women's sports teams and athletes, like the memorabilia offered in our Parity Locker, directly contributes to their financial stability. Revenue generated from merchandise sales helps fund training programs, infrastructure development, and athlete support systems. By investing in women's sports merchandise, fans become active participants in their growth. Visit team websites or reach out to your favorite women athletes to explore a wide range of options.
Engage on Social Media
Social media platforms provide a powerful space to engage with women's sports. In a report titled DisruptHERs, which she co-authored, UNLV sport and gender parity researcher Nancy Lough says that, “Digital disruption is creating unprecedented opportunity for women’s sport properties and women athletes to create a new model because they are largely unburdened by traditional investments and processes. To change the culture, we must change the story.” By following, liking, sharing, and commenting on women's sports content, fans can create positive conversations and increase visibility. Encourage others to join the discussion, using hashtags specific to women's sports events and athletes. This collective effort amplifies the reach and impact of women's sports across various online communities.
Advocate for Equal Opportunities
While progress has been made, women's sports still face disparities in funding, resources, and opportunities compared to their male counterparts. Support organizations and initiatives working towards gender equality in sports, such as Parity. Parity facilitates brand partnerships for paid social campaigns, sells athlete memorabilia, mints and sells NFTs, and offers career coaching among other services. By supporting such initiatives, individuals contribute to the long-term goal of closing the gender wage gap and ensuring fair compensation for women athletes.
Sponsorship and Partnerships
Corporate sponsorship plays a significant role in the development and sustainability of women's sports. Brands and companies have the power to influence the growth of women's sports through partnerships and financial support. By investing in women's sports teams and athletes, corporations contribute to their visibility, infrastructure development, and athlete welfare. Ally Financial’s ad buy with Disney’s ESPN, focused on women’s sports, is one of biggest investments in the space to date — in importance as much as the dollars attached. According to CNBC, the one-year, multimillion-dollar deal requires 90% of its investment to be put to women’s sports, through expanding game highlights, branded content and features across ESPN. “We really think it’s at the top of the funnel to create the most fundamental change for women’s sports,” said Stephanie Marciano, head of sports and entertainment marketing at Ally. “It is rare that brands buy media deals, or buy sponsorship deals, where they are as skewed toward women’s sports as this one,” she said.
What’s Holding Women's Sports Back
While it's essential to support women's sports in the right way, it's equally crucial to avoid harmful practices that undermine the progress made in promoting gender pay equality in sports. Here are practices still at play that are detrimental to women's sports:
Undermining Media Coverage
Disregarding or minimizing women's sports in media discussions perpetuates the narrative that women's sports are less important or less entertaining than men's sports. Diminishing the significance of women's sports events or athletes contributes to unequal media coverage, limited sponsorship opportunities, and lower earning potential for women athletes. It's vital to recognize and appreciate the achievements and talents of women athletes to ensure they receive the coverage and support they deserve.
Stereotyping women athletes based on gender norms can be detrimental to their careers and the overall growth of women's sports. Assigning labels such as "less skilled" or "less physically capable" solely because of their gender reinforces biased perceptions and restricts opportunities for women athletes to excel. Recognizing and appreciating the diverse range of talents, skills, and accomplishments of women athletes is crucial for dismantling stereotypes and promoting inclusivity in sports.
Unequal Compensation and Investment
Unequal compensation and lack of investment in women's sports perpetuate gender disparities in earnings and opportunities. Pay gaps between men and women athletes are prevalent across various sports, hindering women athletes' ability to make a living solely from their sport. It's important for sponsors, brands, and governing bodies to provide equitable resources, funding, and sponsorship opportunities to ensure women athletes have the same opportunities to thrive as their male counterparts.
Lack of Visible Fan Support
The absence of fan support can be detrimental to the growth and sustainability of women's sports. Sparse attendance at games, minimal engagement on social media, and limited promotion of women's sports events send a message that they are less valuable or less exciting than men's sports. Fans play a crucial role in creating a vibrant atmosphere, driving media interest, and attracting sponsors. Active participation and vocal support from these women athletes’ fans are essential in building a robust fan base and enhancing the financial prospects of women athletes.
Supporting women's sports in the right way requires active participation and engagement. By educating ourselves, attending events, advocating for coverage, supporting merchandise, and engaging on social media, we can contribute to the continued growth and success of women's sports. Parity plays a crucial role in closing the gender wage gap and providing opportunities for women athletes. Let’s stand together and champion gender pay equality in sports, ensuring a bright and inclusive future for women athletes.