The Growth in Popularity of Women’s Sports

It is clear that a number of women’s sports have made great strides in recent years. For instance, the opener of the 2019 soccer World Cup in France was watched by a record-breaking 9.83 million TV viewers in the host country. In the UK, close to 12 million people watched England lose to the USA in the semi-final.

Why is female soccer now becoming more widely acknowledged and respected? It is also worth thinking about why some other sports aren’t yet showing the same signs of popularity and visibility.

The Rise of Women’s Soccer

The figures behind the rise of women’s soccer are fascinating to see. 1996 was the first time that the sport was included in the Olympic Games, despite the male equivalent being present in virtually all of the events since the start of the 20th century.

If we look at the attendances for the FA Cup final in England, we can see they have grown from 4,988 in 2013 to just over 30,000 in 2015 and then 35,271 in 2017. Similar figures can be seen in other parts of the world, as more and more people start taking an interest in this sport.

It is also clear that more girls are taking up the sport than ever before. This is helped by so many players now appearing as role models on social media and on television. Women’s professional soccer has only been present in the US since 1999, but the current NWSL is providing to be highly successful.

Other Sports That Are Growing

It isn’t just in soccer that female sports are showing impressive levels of growth. Viewing figures and interest levels in women’s tennis, golf, boxing, and Olympic events have all increased intensely in recent years. This increased in popularity and participation is a reflection of the fact that some 50% of all women across the planet now have an interest in sport. This is far more than in similar studies carried out in the past. Is there a specific reason why this has happened?

One intriguing theory is that it can be put down to an increased emphasis on sports participation for girls in schools and colleges. This is something that started to change in the 1970s, leading to a new generation of female sports fans.

Why Are Some Sports Getting Left Behind?

It is worth pointing out that not all sports have shown the same growth as soccer, tennis, and the others mentioned earlier. Indeed, it is noticeable that American sports such as baseball and American football have fallen behind in terms of the popularity of female teams and events.

Why do sports like these not show the same levels of growth as soccer? If we look at baseball, there is a level of debate about why there are no female professional players, coaches, or umpires in the sport. Baseball has always been marketed as being a masculine game with little place for women in it, so it is perhaps no surprise to see that it continues to fall behind.

As for American Football, there have been women playing the sport since the 1920s. Yet, there appear to be few real signs of it becoming anywhere near as popular as the male equivalent. The main problem appears to be that very few colleges have female football teams, although some occasionally allow a girl to play in a male team. So, it is highly unlikely that we see NFL matchups or MLB games featuring women anytime soon. However, the progress seen in other sports is likely to encourage advances in these sports over time too.

The growth in women’s sports in recent years isn’t a fluke or a temporary condition. Instead, it is a clear sign of a shift in attitudes that should see women take an ever-greater role in the sports world from now on.

Thanks to Tomas

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