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Female sport is ready to be propelled into a new era

 

Author: Alex Dudley

Women have been unfairly treated in sports coverage whether in print or online format for so long that many women have simply given up reading or even don't see an incentive in playing a sport.

According to 'Sports England Active Lives survey', only 14 per cent of primary-school girls are doing the bare minimum of required physical activity.

The pay gap between genders is still an issue in 2019, and yet evidence suggests women in sports are more likely to continue to break through the glass ceiling. This matter because women who are not physically active are less likely to make time for health appointments such as mammograms and smear tests, which could potentially be problematic with their health away from sport.

For many girls starting school, a sport is a domain where they will first encounter discrimination whether that is in the words of a fellow pupil who tells them that they cannot play a specific sport, or just witnessing the early attitude of young boys dominating the space of the playground playing football. Some girls agree with this stigma, with the sitting in the corner, not wanting to face the abuse that could come with asking if they could take part in the activity.

As long as teacher, schools, television channels and magazines continue to deny the female sports the coverage and attention they deserve, the stigma will remain. The message will ring out clearly: women do not belong in sports, especially the ones dominated by men – like soccer, basketball, baseball or NFL.

But the landscape is changing, and fast. Nike jetted in female superstars for a fashion week in Paris and paraded them around a catwalk, in front of Virgil Abloh and Naomi Campbell. Sports manufacturer Adidas has led the way by announcing that equal performance bonuses will be on offer for the first time to the winners of the 2019 Women's World Cup.

In pop culture, women’s sport is breaking into the mainstream – with reigning European champion sprinter Dina Asher-Smith leading the spotlight. The 23-year-old is becoming a household name after appearing on major UK chat shows and appearing on the front covers of Vogue and Elle following her success of three gold medals in Berlin.

With World Cups in football and netball on the horizon this is going to be a colossal summer for women’s sport, and with both being covered on free-to-air television the ability to watch it will only increase the number of young girls that are going to be inspired. That is vital to the progression, of not only female soccer but female involvement in all sports.

Early in 2019 over 60,739 people were in attendance to watch a fixture between Barcelona women and Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. This made it a new record attendance for a domestic European women's football fixture. The demand for the sport is clearly there, not only in Spain but also in the UK. A massive 45,423 fans watched the Women's FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley in May 2018.

The London 2012 Olympics slogan was ‘inspire a generation’, and it did. Since the UK won the bid in 2005 over 1.4 million people have regularly done exercise. This is the exact template that women's sport should follow; and should they do this, there will be no doubt that the success and the popularity that follows will be monumental with sporting involvement in the future.

The one area which is becoming hugely popular in the women’s game is betting. Punters can now put money on virtually any game that takes place in football nowadays; including the Women’s World Cup. It seems like something that should attract the eye of NFL future markets. A United States Women's Football League was created just in 2009, but at the moment it only has 9 teams in competition, so maybe the betting industry can help it grow.

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