A Call For More Female Representation in Sports


Photo via BYU The Daily Universe

Even with Title IX being over 50 years old, a lack of equality still exists in sports. While great strides have been made and women now can do so much more than women even just 30 years ago in the world of sports, more can and needs to be done. One way that there is still a great deficit between mens and womens sports is in the broadcast world. 

The women’s basketball national championship had 13 million less viewers, even being the most viewed women’s college basketball national championship (photo via ESPN).

In 2021, a study conducted by USC and Purdue University found that most  sports coverage is about men’s sports. In 2019 only 5.7% of all coverage on SportsCenter was about women’s sports. “On the rare broadcast when a women’s sports story does appear, it is usually a case of ‘one and done’— a single women’s sports story partially eclipsed by a cluster of men’s stories that precede it, follow it and are longer in length,” Cheryl Cooky, a professor of American studies and women’s, gender and sexuality studies told USC News. The 2022 Men’s Basketball National Championship recorded 18.1 million viewers which was a four percent increase from the previous year. The 2022 Women’s Basketball National Championship had an average of 4.85 million viewers with a peak viewership of 5.91 million viewers. This was the most viewed national championship game in over a decade. An almost 13 million viewer difference is hard to wrap your head around. To put that number into perspective, the population of the state of Pennsylvania is 13 million.

The argument that most give when it comes to the amount of airtime that is given to women’s sports is that they are not equitable and do not bring in enough money. The “big three” in sports is football, basketball, and baseball. Those sports are the ones that bring in the most money, viewers and fans. Often, athletics departments and on air give them  priority because sports is a business. They want to be able to bring in as much money as they can. But, if women’s sports are not being broadcast they will never be given a chance to bring in money and more fans. There will never be an opportunity for it to become popular. 

Culture has told us that men’s sports are better, more entertaining. The slam dunk is more entertaining than the final stretch of a mile race, because society told us it is. The display of power, speed and strength is ingrained in our heads as being better to watch. Due to the anatomical differences in biological males and females, males typically tend to excel in sports where women do not. Men’s basketball is more physical, where strength has great importance; however,  in women’s basketball there is a much greater emphasis on skill. Women tend to be more successful at endurance sports, things like a mile race or skiing. These sports however, do not get broadcast unless on an international stage such as in the Olympics. There needs to be an appreciation for the skill and poise that it takes to succeed in some of these sports, not just the slam dunk and the hail mary pass. 

Three of sports broadcastings biggest female names were apart of the International Women’s Day broadcast on ESPN (photo via ESPN Press Room).

In professional sports, there have been all female broadcasting crews. But, this happens once and then never again. It has been seen in the MLB, NHL and NBA. And in all three games, it was one game and it has not happened again since. More history was made in 2022 when an NBA game was broadcasted by a crew of all women. Every aspect of having the game on air was done and run by women, from production to calling the game. Just a few days ago another game was called by three women, some of the biggest female names in sports broadcasting. This was done in honor of International Women’s Day. While it is a good initiative and a way to celebrate and recognize these women for their great careers on International Women’s Day, women should be calling games on a regular basis. 

While there has been an increase in viewership for women’s sports in recent years there is still so much more that needs to be done. So, when softball  is on the SEC Network, or women’s soccer is on the Big Ten Network, put it on. Learn their names, watch their games, give them recognition for their hard work. With the NCAA tournament for both men’s and women’s basketball coming up, fill out a bracket. Not just one for the men’s tournament but for the women too. Watch all games when they are on, not just the men’s games. This is just one aspect of sports where the playing field needs to continue to become level. If this can be done, women’s sports will continue to be elevated and if there is a demand for it, there will be more women’s sports on television.