The world celebrates International Women's Day every March 8th
💪 Put ’em in, coach
Historic hires, massive contracts and shattered records. Wherever these female coaches lead, we’ll gladly follow.
🏈 NFL: The 2022 NFL season featured 15 women in coaching roles, the most there’s ever been in any professional male league.
- Two major trailblazers? Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar, who became the first female coaches to win a Super Bowl when they helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the title in 2021.
- Looking ahead, it’s likely even more women will be calling shots after the NFL’s latest update to the controversial Rooney Rule, which now requires that teams hire a minority or female offensive assistant coach.
⚾️ MLB: MLB also saw increased representation, with at least 11 women working as on-field coaches in major and minor league clubs in 2022. And the ranks are already expanding this year. You know what they say about diamonds.
🏀 WNBA: The 2022 season saw former W star Becky Hammon return to the league as head coach of the Las Vegas Aces and become the first head coach to win a WNBA championship in her debut season.
- Her record-setting annual salary reportedly worth over $1M also signaled a massive shift, demonstrating that coaching women’s sports can be the goal, not just a stepping stone.
📺 Put women’s sports on TV
Numbers never lie — more viewers are watching women’s sports than ever before. If you stream it…
🏀 WNBA: An average of 379K viewers tuned into regular season games last year, making it the league’s highest viewed regular season in 14 years.
- And the W’s growing beyond TV, too. Twitter reported that conversation volume about the WNBA grew 73% in the U.S. last year, with the number of unique authors rising more than 92%. Count it.
🎓🏀 NCAA basketball: The 2022 title game between South Carolina and UConn pulled in 4.85M viewers (!!!), making it the most-watched college basketball game, men’s or women’s, on ESPN since 2008. And don’t be surprised if a new record is set this year.
⚽️ Euro 2022: The 2022 Women’s European Championship averaged 365M viewers globally, making it the most watched edition of the tournament. Euro 2022 also broke crowd record attendance as the final drew 87,192 fans to Wembley Stadium.
🏒 Hockey: During the 2022 Beijing Olympics, 2.7M people tuned in on CBC to watch Canada dethrone the reigning champ U.S. squad, notching a record for the most-watched event of the Games in the Great White North.
⚽️ NWSL: 915K viewers tuned in to see the Portland Thorns beat the Kansas City Current and claim the 2022 NWSL title, marking a 71% viewership increase from the 2021 championship.
- A big reason for the spike? It was the first NWSL Championship played in primetime, and it aired on CBS while also streaming on Paramount+. Further proof that “if more people can watch women’s sports, more people will watch women’s sports.”
👊 Ladies to the front
Business in the front (office), party in the back. Women are making history in the highest ranks all across the sports world.
🏀 NBA: Cynt Marshall became the first Black woman to serve as CEO of an NBA team when she joined the Dallas Mavericks in 2018 helping transform the reeling organization into one focused on diversity and inclusivity. According to Marshall, she took the job “for the sisterhood.” BRB, crying real tears.
🏒 NHL: In September 2022, analytics whiz Alexandra Mandrycky was promoted to assistant general manager (AGM) of the Seattle Kraken, becoming one of six female AGMs in the league this season.
⚾️ MLB: We can’t not mention the Miami Marlins’ Kim Ng, who made history when she became the first female MLB general manager (GM) back in 2020, shattering glass as the first-ever female GM of any major North American sports league.
- Then at the end of last year, the Marlins also announced they would be promoting Caroline O’Connor to president of business operations. Side by side, Ng and O’Connor run the team’s day-to-day operations. Hell to the yes.
💰 Money, money, money
💵 Eight female athletes made at least $10M in 2022 and the top 25 highest-paid raked in a collective $285M. Seven of the top 10 play tennis — which comes as no surprise as tennis has long led the way in pay equity.
- Soon to be mom Naomi Osaka topped the list for the third straight year, cashing in $51.1M, followed by Serena Williams ($41.3M) and 19-year-old skier Eileen Gu ($20.1M).
🎓 Name, image and likeness (NIL) deals — which allowed amateur athletes to cash in on endorsement deals for the first time beginning in July 2021 — have made a big mark, helping to level the playing field in college athletics.
- As of September 2022, women’s sports accounted for six of the top 10 highest-earning sports by NIL compensation. Women’s college basketball led the way, ranking third among NIL compensated sports. Cha-ching.
- Gymnasts Livvy Dunne and Suni Lee were two of the top NIL earners in 2022, with UConn basketball star Paige Bueckers also featured high on the list, despite being out for the season with a torn ACL.
⚽️ Amid the money moves wins, female footballers are still fighting for equality. The USWNT’s historic equal pay collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. Soccer Federation last year was a huge victory for women in the sport, but progress can’t stop there.
- CanWNT played the SheBelieves Cup under protest last month during a similar equal pay dispute with Canada Soccer. While an interim funding agreement has since been reached, the team is still seeking adequate funding and the same support CanMNT received in their World Cup year.
➡️ The road ahead
While we take today to celebrate, we know the work is far from over. Women still receive less than 5% of sports media coverage and account for only about 14% of sports reporters (a primary reason we do what we do!).
- Also alarming? Girls — especially Black girls — drop out of sports at a higher rate than boys. And these are only a handful of the issue areas that need to be tackled.
Also of concern are the attacks on the trans sports community, specifically trans girls and women. Eighteen states have now passed laws barring transgender girls and women from competing in sports aligning with their gender identity.
- Just this week, the so-called “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act” was reintroduced, which would implement a federal ban on transgender and intersex girls and women participating in sports if passed. Terrifying.
It bears repeating: trans rights are human rights. Trans girls and women belong in sports. Supporters of women’s sports must be part of this fight as well.
- Clearly, there’s still much progress to be made. Let the incredible milestones and moments fuel us as we march on.