What a year it has been for women’s sports.
There have been highs, like watching some of the greatest athletes reach the end of their iconic careers. And there have been lows, like reckoning with the hard truths that some organizations and leagues failed their athletes, in the wake of bombshell investigations, including the Yates report which outlined persistent sexual and psychological abuse by coaches against players in the National Women’s Soccer League coaches. There has been everything in between.
But after 12 long months, we made it. Almost.
This year was a big one for women’s sports to look back. A greater part of the year was spent reflecting on the past 50, as we celebrated the signing of Title IX and the banning of sex discrimination in education half a century ago. We talked extensively about the progress made since those 37 words became the law of the land, and there have been several reports published by such organizations as the Women’s Sports Foundation laying out a path on how to move forward into the next 50 years.
Some politicians have introduced bills aimed to further improve gender equity in sports. These conversations will likely pick up in 2023 after the bills are reintroduced.
For instance, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, introduced the Fair Play for Women Act, which aims to promote gender equity in college and K-12 sports.
The bill aims to expand reporting requirements of college and K-12 athletics data and make all this information easily accessible to the public; hold athletic programs and associations more accountable for Title IX violations and inequitable treatment by allowing the Department of Education to fine institutions, among other things; and improve education and awareness of Title IX rights through training and another public database of all Title IX coordinators at colleges and K-12 schools.
In a late 2022 win, the House passed a bill last week that ensures equal compensation for U.S. women competing in international events, a piece of legislation that came out of the U.S. women’s soccer team’s long battle to be paid as much as the men — especially on the international stage. The “Equal Pay for Team USA Act” would require all athletes representing the United States in global competition to receive equal pay and benefits in their sport, regardless of gender. It covers America’s 50-plus national sports and requires the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to handle oversight.
This year, thanks to the collective bargaining agreement between the national teams’ player unions, the women’s team received a portion of the men’s team earnings from the men’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar. This new bill takes it one step further by addressing yet another way that equality for professional athletes can be reached. The bill had passed the Senate with unanimous support and was headed to President Joe Biden’s desk.
This all makes it an exciting time to be covering the women’s sports space — and it’s bound to get better in 2023.
Jessica Berman, commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League, said it best. In a recent sit-down on CBS Sports’ “We Need to Talk,” Berman spoke about the future of women’s sports and the NWSL. 2022 marked the leagues’ 10th season — a significant milestone for women’s soccer, which has long struggled to keep a professional league afloat in the United States.
“The future is right in front of us, and the challenges have been hard — but the upside is undeniable,” Berman said on the show. “I think the key for our future is really that investors, brands, media, sponsors — they believe in this league because they believe in it from a business perspective.
“Women’s sports is no longer thought of as charity or ‘nice to have’ or part of a corporate social responsibility budget,” she continued. “This is part of investment for the future of sports — and when that paradigm shifted, which I would say happened in the last year or so, culturally in the world, it really changed the future of what’s possible.”
There’s plenty of competition to look forward to, as well. The women’s FIFA World Cup tips off this summer in Australia and New Zealand. The U.S. National Team will be vying for a historic three-peat, after winning the last two tournaments in 2015 and 2019. If this past men’s World Cup is any indicator, the appetite for good soccer in the states just keeps growing.
What a year 2023 is sure to be for women’s sports.
Credit: Source link