It wasn’t that long ago that the only sports on TV were men’s sports, and the only athletes featured on TV were male athletes.
We’ve come leaps and bounds since then, and while we still have a ways to go, we can turn on the TV and not only see women’s sports regularly, but on major television stations and with higher view rates than ever before according to Samba TV’s latest report.
This report cites that audience growth for Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), and the women’s NCAA (National Collegiate Athletics Association) tournament superseded men’s viewership growth for the same sports in the last couple years.
So, how does watching female sports empower youth female athletes?
It inspires them
Beyond just getting to watch a sport they love on TV, watching other female athletes is inspiring. Girls get to see other female athletes playing their sport at the highest level, and they see someone like them — someone who loved their sport so much they dedicated their all to it, and was able to make it part of their future foundations.
Recognizing themselves in another talented athlete can inspire girls to see the opportunities they too have in their sports future. as well as better understand what it took to get there.
It builds confidence
Along with seeing other female athletes like them on TV, accomplishing goals and playing at a high level, watching female sports helps create a sense of belonging.
It’s no secret that feeling like you’re part of a bigger community helps build self confidence. When we watch women’s sports on TV, we see just how big and far-reaching that community is.
Having access to these role models teaches youth athletes the power of hard work; these women have fought to play at a professional level and are doing it. It shows them the power of resilience and helps them believe they can achieve whatever they put their mind to.
It can help them learn new skills
Watching sports on TV or online isn’t just entertaining, it’s a great way to learn new techniques and skills within that sport. Watching and repeating gives us a great way to learn or get inspired to try something different at practice.
Many coaches encourage athletes to watch clips of their favorite athletes to learn new moves or plays. Watching and integrating a rotation of personal athletic influences in your personal practice is a great way to continuously challenge and build upon your own skill set.
It helps grow the sports
Watching women’s sports goes beyond empowerment; by continuing to support women’s sports through viewership and audience ratings, you help grow women’s sports as well.
Women’s martial arts and grappling offers a great example of this. Increased coverage of women’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wrestling across TV and streaming services means more people than ever are watching previously very niche female sports. This can help the sport gain popularity among young girls, seeing others like them participate in them, and hopefully help instill confidence and the self-sufficiency that comes with knowing how to defend yourself in the next generation.
According to FloWrestling, there’s been a 46 percent increase in participation in girl’s wrestling in the last year. Watching and supporting women’s sports not only helps it grow, but also increases the opportunities professional female athletes get to be the main event on fight cards or the main televised series on major TV networks.
The more people that tune in for a female-only fight card or the NCAA women’s March Madness tournament every year, the more organizations will continue to invest in women’s sports, and the greater positive impact it will have on future athletes to come.