This past summer, women’s sports flourished, reaching goals that were formerly thought to be unattainable. Women’s sports have entered a new age, leaving a huge impact on the world of athletics, from gender pay equality to record-breaking viewership.
The rise of women’s football
The phenomenal expansion of women’s football is striking evidence of the changing tides. The Women’s World Cup, long a fringe event, now draws billions of viewers worldwide. In 2010, over 63 million people tuned in to watch. According to FIFA, that figure nearly doubled to about two billion this year, a 30-fold rise. The England vs. Spain Women’s World Cup final this summer drew a record-breaking 14.8 million viewers in the United Kingdom, while Spain’s 7.4 million viewers were the highest-ever audience for a women’s match.
A new level of viewer engagement
Viewers aren’t only tuned in; they’re staying engaged for longer lengths of time. The Women’s Sport Trust reports that the average viewer spent eight hours and 44 minutes watching women’s sports in 2022, up from three hours and 47 minutes in 2021.
“It only needed the little bit of investment that it’s had in the last few years to demonstrate how capable women are,” said Lisa West, head of policy, partnerships, and public affairs at the charity Women in Sport. “Showing a glimmer of what women’s professional sport could be has opened people’s eyes.”
A new commitment to equality
National sports organizations are paving the road for gender equality. The Football Association and the England and Wales Cricket Board have closed the gender pay gap, demonstrating a commitment to a more egalitarian future.
“Investing in women’s sports is a no-brainer; it’s non-negotiable,” West emphasized. While professional sports encounter difficulties in obtaining sponsorship and television arrangements, women’s sports are discovering new funding sources, such as investment funds.
Taking advantage of financial opportunities
Private equity investors are beginning to recognize the enormous potential of women’s sports. CVC invested $150 million in the US Women’s Tennis Association in March for a 20 percent stake, and a groundbreaking women’s cricket tournament in India was auctioned off to investors for $570 million, one of the largest financial injections in women’s sports history.
The expectation is that the spike in professional spending and popularity will have a knock-on impact, influencing attitudes in grassroots sports and schools.
Stereotypes continue despite progress. Gender discrepancies in school athletics serve as a clear reminder that much work has to be done. “We’re still seeing playgrounds dominated by boys kicking footballs around, and girls hiding in the corner trying to stay out of the way,” he said. Getting rid of these prejudices is still an important aspect of the objective.
The path of women’s sports is not without difficulties. Off-field situations, such as the one involving the president of the Spanish football federation, serve as a reminder of the cultural dynamics that female athletes face. Nonetheless, the tremendous rise of women’s sports is an uplifting story.
The evolution of women’s sports is motivating for competitors like Mary Peters, whose gold medal at the 1972 Olympics is a monument to her perseverance. Peters, in her autobiography, reflects on the stark differences: “I trained mostly alone and worked full-time. The coverage women’s sport gets now is amazing – it used to be two lines on the back page if you were lucky!”
A bright future lies in the ever-changing environment of women’s sports. The triumphant summer stands as a beacon of hope, motivating future generations and starting a new age in athletics.