Women’s sport is big news in a way that it has never been. Go back just 10 years ago and the idea of female soccer being covered around the world, fighters earning millions of dollars and pro wrestling being 50% female today would have been laughable. But come back to 2023 and it’s a whole different situation. Rather than charting the rise and retreading old ground, we feel that now is the time to look over the horizon and see what else will come our way.
More interest means bigger TV deals…which fuels even more interest
For the best part of 40 years the only women’s sport that was on anything close to a level playing field with the men when it came to TV coverage was tennis. Billie Jean King was a pioneer in so many ways — not just for winning the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ — and blazed a trail. The Williams sisters, Maria Sharapova and now Coco Gauff are all big names who increasingly cross over into the mainstream. But these days there are so many more sports that are following closely behind.
The recent Women’s World Cup showed that female soccer players have never been more skilled, professional and passionate. Playing out from the back, scoring from long range and forming intricate passing triangles were all common sights during a glorious month for the women’s game. Look over to the UK — the home of soccer — and the WSL is offering televised games virtually every week. This will only bring more and more eyes to a game so many are coming to love.
Bigger quantities of merchandise will be sold
English goalkeeper Mary Earps has made headlines because despite her jersey not being available before the World Cup, her performance led to such demand it’s now selling out fast. Things are moving even faster in Canada, with teams following on from the groundbreaking Toronto Six and finally joining the NWHL to take on the best in the rest of North America. Their jerseys are popular with fans of all ages and are bringing more young girls onto the ice than ever before. And then you have the world-beating defensive pairing of Kadeisha Buchanan and Vanessa Gilles who are leading the way on the soccer pitch with the Canadian national team. Role models are certainly coming to the fore in Canadian women’s sport.
The rise of women’s sport is certainly changing the game fast, but not so fast that current regulations and laws can’t keep up. The impact is more economic and social than it is legal. Whether you’re looking to place a wager on female sport, or play in an online casino, the Gambling regulations Canada has in force are clear and robust. Good news for those looking to enjoy the new commercial opportunities women’s sport is set to enjoy.
The size of live events is rapidly increasing
It used to be the case, just a few short years ago, that female sport generated negligible gate receipts. Today you can see mega stadiums like the Camp Nou in Spain hosting nearly 100,000 fans for a sporting spectacle. This all adds into the cycle of improvement and elevation female sport is experiencing. Bigger crowds means more TV interest means more merchandise sold. Everything is pointing towards a brighter future for sport itself, but how about the women at the epicentre of this rapid revolution in terms of interest and coverage?
Female athletes have never earned more
Put aside for a minute the ongoing equal pay dispute between the U.S. Soccer Federation and their previously all-conquering women’s team. Taken as a whole, female sports stars have never earned more money. Irishwoman Katie Taylor regularly commands seven-figure paydays in the boxing ring, while the WWE’s Ronda Rousey has long been one of their highest paid (and most popular) stars. That Rousey achieved the same accolade in the violent world of the UFC where female fights now are seen as legitimate PPV main events shows the rise is almost universal.
With female athletes earning more money they are being given more chances to turn professional, train full-time and get the coaching, nutrition and sports science they need. All of this will elevate the game further, showcasing true potential and technical ability as we begin to uncover the previously largely overlooked sporting prowess of half the world’s population. And it doesn’t stop there…
The crossover appeal of female athletes is growing all the time
While it used to be that for a female athlete to garner mainstream attention she had to be seen as a sex symbol, that is no longer the case by any stretch of the imagination. Katie Taylor is the epitome of a private, reserved and saintly religious figure outside of her training regimen. She never tries to be more than a pure boxer, shares nothing about her private life other than she owns a boat, and yet she’s one of the biggest attractions in one of the most macho sports.
Endorsements with Gym Shark, several Connor McGregor brands and a sought-after podcast guest in her own right show the crossover appeal. This is not a woman only known by pure fight fans — she is close to a royal figure in her home country of Ireland.
We now have so many more role models for young girls
Puberty often sees talented girls move away from sports, many feeling an athletic physique and background is at odds with mainstream views of femininity and beauty. The fact that more and more women are showcasing incredible skills, having fun and making life-changing money will change this sooner rather than later. If someone looks like you and is doing something you like, the chances become so much greater that you’ll want to continue following your passion.
This is great news for those of you looking to treat women’s sport not as a showcase of what women can do, but just as more elite sport to savour and enjoy in the same way as the men’s competitions.
If the last couple of years have proven anything, it’s that we’re closer to that final point than ever before. Long may the progress continue!
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