I woke up on Wednesday, moseyed my way to social media, and found many messages about National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Yes, it’s a mouthful and no, I can’t remember if I was aware of this holiday before, my phone’s calendar didn’t have it automatically listed there.
And a tiny bit of me found a good heap of the celebration of the day to be dominated by brands making flashy videos demonstrating their Commitment to Diversity, and on some level it’s fairly cynical.
Having said that, there are a multitude of reasons for why we should collectively recognize National Girls and Women in Sports Day:
- Investment in women’s sports at the professional level remains a fraction of that of men’s sports, primarily due to conservatism and stereotypes. Demand to watch, follow, consume content about and buy merch of women’s sports is stronger than it’s ever been, and far outstrips what’s currently offered.
- The best soccer team in the world is the U.S. Women’s National Team, who continue to fight for equal pay to that of their male counterparts in spite of substantially outperforming them in all competitive metrics.
- Girls are statistically far more likely to drop out of playing sports when they reach puberty, for a variety of reasons, including enduring cultural stigmas surrounding non-males playing sports and certain sports effectively prohibiting non-males from participating at all.
- Women remain underrepresented in most industries related to sports, including media.
- Women in all facets around sports, especially those in the public eye, face considerable and often regular online abuse. Many also deal with sexual harassment or worse.
- Gatekeeping, including in supporter communities in soccer, can prevent non-males from participating or taking leadership positions as they would like.
- In line with medical research overall being biased in studying men more than women, there remains a knowledge gap over sports medicine that is specifically tailored to female athletes.
- Entities, including teams, leagues, marketers, advertisers, apparel companies and media companies, default to men being the default fan and fail to provide basic services to girls and women.
- A culture encouraged in many sports and fandoms that fails to be inclusive of non-males.
I can think off the top of my head of multiple red flags in recent times that highlights these issues, from a company attempting a toxic hostile takeover of an entire sport and settling for unremitting abuse of anyone against them, to whisper networks concerning male media members who attempt to prey on others, to the subtle ways in which girls and women have to “prove” they belong in a sporting realm, in ways big and small. I know this, because I live it, and have my whole life.
So yes, as good media consumers it’s good to see all the brands make glossy videos featuring empowering messages from the mouths of babes and badass women and think it it fairly token as a gesture, because in some cases it definitely is.
But as we aim for a more fair society, highlighting the work that has been done and needs to be done, for any intersectional identity that is underrepresented, also needs to continue. Don’t just love the girls and women who play sports, work in sports or follow sports today. Make sure you support us everyday.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.