A family walks into a sports-themed bar & grill outside of D.C. and asks an employee to change the channel of one of the 30 TVs to the WNBA Finals. D.C.’s hometown team, the Washington Mystics, are playing the Seattle Storm, and Natasha Cloud’s family wants to watch her play. It’s a mid-afternoon game airing on ESPN.
The employee refuses to change the channel on even one TV, his actions echoing a common sentiment: who wants to watch women’s sports?
This story was reported by The Washington Post last week. It’s upsetting, and not just because the bar wouldn’t support a hometown women’s team or accommodate a professional athlete’s family. It’s upsetting because the sentiment feels too familiar.
It’s an exciting time to be a female professional in industries ranging from government to technology to engineering. Sure, women are still fighting for equal pay and C-Suite titles, but things are trending in the right direction. With the momentum of a women’s movement backing us and the help of organizations like Women in Technology and Girlboss, we continue to make strides in the business world.
So why do we still not take female professional athletes, especially basketball players, seriously? If the media started giving women’s sports coverage a higher production quality, and if cities gave female teams cooler stadiums, and if marketing people created flashier merchandise, would we be inclined to pay more attention? If sports bars showed women’s games, would a culture around female sports develop? Would sentiment toward female athletes and leagues change?
I don’t have the answers to these questions, but they’re important topics of discussion as we help female athletes more forward.