Kelly Wallace Asks: When Will Women’s Sports Get the Same Attention as Men?

Great question from our friend and Generation W speaker Kelly Wallace:  When will women’s sports get the same attention as men?  Here is an excerpt from her recent article for CNN.com:

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I met Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming, during a spectacular and inspirational women’s conference in Jacksonville, Florida, last week called Generation W, where I moderated panels on issues affecting women.  “This connection with sports and masculinity is a very tough nut to crack. People have been trying to crack it for a long time,” said Hogshead-Makar, who has devoted her career to the advancement of girls and women in sports.

More than 40 years after the enactment of Title IX, a law that says that any school receiving federal funds cannot discriminate based on sex, there are still huge disparities, she said, with men getting $190 million more per year in college athletic scholarships than women.  “It’s appalling what these huge differences are. Any fifth-grader can walk into your average high school or college softball baseball facility and say, ‘Duh, that’s not equal.’ “

Hogshead-Makar, who is chief executive officer of the advocacy group Champion Women, said even though Title IX requires that women get the same access to media and support that men get, it’s not happening.  “The coupling of sexism and sport, having this be an exclusionary practice, is still a strong one,” said the 1984 Olympic champion.

Attitudes about women and sports still have a long way to go before we get to true gender equality, based on a recent poll by Always, the brand that brought us the viral #LikeAGirl video sensation.

While a majority of the 1,800 men and women polled said both genders were equal in math and science, they said sports was the one area where they believe there are differences.  A significant percentage of both women and men said men are better at sports, with 32% of women feeling that way and 47% of men, the poll found.

Hilary Knight, a member of the U.S. Olympic hockey team, called the findings “disappointing” but said women’s sports is still young, with Title IX only a few decades old.   “It’s just a gradual growth process that we kind of have to see through,” said Knight, who appears in the most recent #LikeAGirl video, [see below]  this one released for International Women’s Day this month, showcasing women proudly talking about how they shoot, score and do chemistry like a girl.

Knight admits the changes in women’s sports might not come during her hockey career but says she believes they will eventually come, especially as more women play the game.  When she started playing hockey 15 years ago, there were few girls who did. Today, you walk into a local rink and you’ll find girls’ and boys’ teams, she said.  “It’s a slow process, but as long as you are changing the stereotype, and you are really empowering women and girls to feel proud of who they are and not hindering their progress in any way, I think we are going to see sport get to where it needs to be.”

Click here to read the entire story. Watch the latest #LikeAGirl video from Always:

Why do you think women’s sports are still not gaining the attention of men’s sports?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!