After the announcement of the cancellation of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League this upcoming May 1, there was a serious realization in me on the lack of support for women’s sports. The young organization will be coming to an end abruptly, with the explanation of it being ‘unsustainable’ is, to me, severely frustrating and confusing — to say the least.
Growing up, men’s sports were a huge consistency throughout my life. My brother played hockey, and I (who wanted to play hockey) got signed up for soccer. The whole family would come out to see him play, film it, and would even go to out-of-town tournaments to watch his team play, at a ridiculously young age.
If I was lucky, sometimes my grandparents would make an appearance at my games — but this usually only happened during playoffs, and always in town.
Not going to lie, it crushed a huge part of why I loved playing sports. Why show off what talent I had when there was no-one that would come to watch? I was a track and field star, took up gymnastics and dance, but I never received the same (or any) recognition that my brother did.
I found that throughout my life when someone thinks of women’s sports, they think of it as being “too slow”, the athletes “aren’t as talented”, they aren’t “fast enough”, not “strong enough”, and their games just “aren’t as exciting”.
There is my main issue. The games aren’t as exciting. They aren’t as exciting as what? What are we comparing women’s sports to?
But, why are we comparing women’s sports to men’s sports? If they were truly meant to be compared we would have co-ed professional sports. We know that women have a disadvantage in strength and speed, but on a tv screen, you can’t see that contrast.
Here is what we know: there are plenty of people who love watching women’s sports, and that number is continuously growing, but, it’s harder to be a fan of women’s sports because they don’t have anywhere close to the same media exposure as men’s sports. While we have unprecedented access to so many women’s events these days, if you want to be an engaged and informed fan, you have to actively search out where to get news about your sport or team and where you can watch (or really, how to stream) games.
Perhaps it’s because we try to replicate the already distinguished sports implemented by men. In Olympic sports like gymnastics, figure skating, and dance, women receive a larger scale of viewership than their male counterparts. These two events are particularly significant in that they demonstrate the absolute beauty of the female body and its athletic abilities. These are not events created to mimic male performance like ice hockey or two-person bobsledding. In those events, the men will always use their greater strength or athleticism to make the women’s sporting event less impressive.
Just as interesting is the fact that neither of the sports I discussed above even exist as a competitive extracurricular in most high schools or universities.
Not only for the women of today, but the benefit of having young girls in sports has a huge positive impact that can’t be ignored. Girls who play sports are known to do better in school, learn teamwork and leadership skills, build self-confidence and use sports as a way to relieve pressure and stress from life.
If you love sports but you’ve limited yourself to just men’s sports for whatever reason, you’re missing out on a lot. That makes me sad for you, but also for all the talented athletes, coaches and teams who give so much to the games you say you love.
If you’d give it a chance you’d see that women are great athletes too.