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The sports world has long been dominated by men, whether it’s on the court, on the sidelines, in the front offices, or in the media. Women, slowly but surely, have gained ground in many other industries, but the sports industry has been slower to respond.
I’m a 25-year-old female and I’ve loved sports for as long as I can remember, and not just as a fan. I knew from a young age that somehow, someway, I was going to work in the business side of sports. But I’ve never been much of an athlete, so it very often catches men off-guard when I can rattle off stats from “last night’s game.” It doesn’t take long for a sports guy to realize that I actually know my stuff, but there’s always an initial test to pass. Sadly,even after years of working in the industry, this still holds true.
The good news is, though, that some in the industry are finally taking note and making changes.
Earlier this month, the San Antonio Spurs hired Becky Hammon as the first full-time female assistant coach in the NBA. When I saw this news, I got major chills. It’s worth noting that the Spurs press release didn’t once mention Hammon’s gender, just that she has years of experience in the sport and a superb basketball IQ, making her more than qualified for the position. Now, for the first time in history, there will be a female in an NBA huddle; that’s undeniably ground-breaking.
Just days after the Spurs’ historic announcement, CBS Sports announced, via The Big Lead, that they will “make television history” in September when it debuts the first all-female sports talk show. My reaction to this news was quite different. Naturally, the marketer in me is curious about the intention of an announcement that makes a self-proclaimed “history making” moment. Intentions aside, however, I wonder – am I expected to be a fan of this all-female sports talk show, because I myself am a female sports fan?
Personally, I’d much rather see CBS and other major networks mix up their talent, and cast the most credible people in sports, gender aside, in all of their sports programming. This lumping of female talent to one show feels more like a check of the diversity box, and that doesn’t leave a great taste in my mouth.
There will no doubt be more bumps in this long road to gender equality in sports. We’ve recently been reminded, however, by a 13-year-old flame-throwing righty, that the future is bright. Young pitcher Mo’ne Davis took the country by storm, leading the Philadelphia Taney deep into the Little League World Series and quickly made history in the tournament as the first female to pitch a shutout. Her swagger and self-confidence makes everyone take notice. I can only hope that the strides women all of ages continue to make will open doors for Mo’ne, and all the other young girls and women across the country and in the world at large who live for the game as much, and in some cases more so, than their male counterparts.
Photo Credit: My San Antonio