You say it like it’s a bad thing. An insult. To play a sport like a woman, you should not be playing a sport at all. You say it like there aren’t almost 1500 amazing female athletes from all over the world who gave it their all at the 2018 Olympic games. You say it like women have not had to fight for their place in athletics, in 1972 creating Title IX creating equal scholarship opportunity for female college athletes, and not even able to compete in every Olympic sport until 2012. You say it like some of your favourite corporations aren’t run under the meticulous musings of some intelligent women. You only wish you could throw like a girl.
To say hockey is an integral part of North American culture is a no brainer. For over a hundred years, viewers have watched as young boys have evolved into men on the ice, yet behind the scenes? There are a lot of women to thank for your viewing pleasures. The NHL’s current CMO is Heidi Browning, and she has been nothing but spectacular since her debut with the company in 2016. She realized that in an ever-evolving technological world, as she has roots in Silicon Valley, she amped up digital marketing and apps to enhance the NHL fan experience. Browning knows that many 20-50 year old men are always going to watch hockey; yet she knows there are other potential markets to reach out to, and did just that. Women are not usually a primary target audience for hockey marketing, but Browning knew that they should be. Reaching out to omitted demographics like women, millennials and even just casual hockey fans who may not be as “die hard” as your average college aged former hockey boy are why Browning has seen a 23% increase in Stanley Cup Final ratings year after year.
Canada has produced many talented basketball players in it’s day like Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, Jamal Murray and Kelly Olynyk to name a few. Canada basketball is a fundamental part of many young lives, as it oversees smaller organizations like Ontario Basketball. The President & CEO of Canada Basketball is Michele O’Keefe, who has worked with the corporation since 2012 and has been a part of both FIBA Americas and FIBA Central boards, helping to grow the game not only for Canadians but for aspiring ballers all over the world. O’Keefe secured the 2015 FIBA Americas Women’s Championship in her role as executive director for Canada Basketball, and her passion for not only women in sport but also diversity and international relations in sport are the reason why she was the perfect fit to oversee operations for the corporation.
Even your favourite Instagram pastime, Barstool Sports, has a woman as their CEO. Erika Nardini took on the role of Barstool CEO after beating out 74 men for the job. With a following of over 8 million “Stoolies”, Erika has seen a 400% increase in merchandise sales year by year, and the company is valued at over $100 million dollars currently. Erika isn’t the only hard hitter in the Barstool lineup, as they recently hired Deirdre Lester as chief revenue officer. Though all your favourite bloggers may quite well be guys being dudes, from a business perspective of your favourite sports business, women run the table.
Even just playing sports themselves are a business, and women have gotten tired of having to watch their dreams played out by the opposite sex as there was no outlet for them to play. That’s all changed since the introduction of many professional sports leagues for women, like the WNBA. NWSL and recently the introduction of the NWHL. Of course the revenue is not at the levels of the NBA, MLS and NHL, yet even moving women’s sports to a level in which they can be payed to live out their lifelong dreams is a step in the right direction for women in sports.
Sports are a complicated business that have fundamentally been run by men are are still predominantly run by men. The field is always changing however, and women are continuing to work harder than ever to prove that this isn’t a man’s world. Sports are meant to bring people together and promote teamwork, leadership and building relationships – regardless of the gender of who’s on your team. Women play an integral part in this world, and sports sees no shortage of that. As sports fan and Super Bowl halftime performer Beyoncé once said, “Who run the world? Girls.”