It’s been three weeks since the United States won the Women’s World Cup in France.
There was much well-deserved praise for the US women. Social media lit up with talk about the team, the athletes and women’s sports. There were predictions that female athletes would get a boost. There were demands for “equal pay.”
Equal pay seems right to me for international events. If you’re representing your country, men and women ought to get the same backing.
But if you truly want to support women in sports, you’re going to have to support them on the professional level. They can’t live off a once-every-four-years tournament. They need a full-time job.
So my question to you is — what have you done to support female athletes since the World Cup ended? Talk, alone, isn’t going to advance their cause.
Whenever I’m in a big city during the summer, I’ll look for a WNBA game. I can generally sit wherever I want. Where are the rest of you?
Don’t tell me it’s “too far away.” Fans go to New York, Boston and Montreal all the time to watch baseball, football, basketball and hockey games. They pay top dollar for tickets to those events, eat $10 hot dogs and buy the overpriced merchandise.
Even bad men’s teams do well at the gate. The Knicks — the pathetic, awful, cellar-dwelling Knicks — average 19,000 a game, with tickets ranging from $50 to goodness-knows-what if you want to sit next to Spike Lee.
OK, so if you won’t travel to games involving female athletes, will you at least watch them on TV?
You can find a decent selection of WNBA games on national and regional TV networks during the summer. There is some good news here — the ratings appear to be up this year — but they are still far behind anything the NBA gets.
There is also the National Women’s Soccer League, which features many of the women that played in the World Cup. Those games are harder to find. A couple of weeks ago I watched the Portland Thorns beat the Orlando Pride 4-3 in an overtime thriller, though I only found it on channel 302 by accident (it was not in our Sports on TV listings ... I’m working on that now).
If you flip through the channels on your TV set on most nights, you’ll see it’s dominated by men’s sports. And if you look through the pages of most newspapers, you’ll see a lot more stories about men than women. That’s because we see the numbers, and we know that most of you spend the vast majority of your time following men’s sports.
Want to see more women’s sports on TV? Think I should change my story selection for the newspaper? Make the case for it. Go to the games. Watch them on TV. Buy their merchandise. Drive up the numbers and things will change.
Men make millions of dollars playing pro sports because fans dig into their pockets and pay for it. If you want women to succeed, you’ll have to give them the same support.
You can talk about this all you want. You can clamor for equality on Twitter until your typing fingers are numb. But if you’re sitting at home watching a steady diet of baseball, football and summer-league basketball, you’re doing nothing to help women’s sports.