Professional Sports And Women
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Professional Sports And Women

The NWHL Isn't a Joke.

Professional Sports And Women

Let's be honest, women's professional sports are a class-A joke.

The National Basketball Association literally has to support the Women's National Basketball Association. A quick Google search and skimming of a few sports articles will allow you to easily learn facts like these:

- During the mid-2000s, the NBA spent more than $10 million per year to keep the WNBA afloat financially.

- In 2007, WNBA teams were estimated to be losing $1.5 to 2 million a year.

- In 2011, only three teams were profitable, and in 2013, only half of the league's 12 teams reported a profit. (Sports Media Watch)

- For winning the Women's World Cup, the female USA team will receive $15 million, which is just about 1/40th of the $575 million that the male USA soccer team received (People).

- Buzzfeed published an article about how there are 52 NBA players that make more money in a year than the combined salary of the 140+ players in the WNBA. (Sports Media Watch)

- One of the only sports where women are the stars is tennis, "Women tennis players earn more money, endorsements, and TV face time than any counterparts in terms of prize money and skill" (Time Magazine).

Let's not even talk about how women's fastpitch softball isn't even in the Olympics anymore, or that football leagues with women usually have gimmicks like lingerie or bikinis attached to them to accrue a larger male audience. The WNBA, women's tennis, and women's soccer are the only three sports leagues that have established a halfway decent foothold in the professional sports world, but that's all about to change.

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The women of the newly formed National Women's Hockey League, proudly holding up pictures of their first paychecks as professional hockey players.

I'm not sure if you're aware, but this is a big deal. And guess what? Nobody is talking about it!

Nobody is talking about the National Women's Hockey League. I am a HUGE hockey fan, and the only way I found out about it was deep in the Twitter-sphere a while ago, looking into tweets about my favorite female Olympic hockey player, Hilary Knight. Eventually, I stumbled upon the NWHL website, followed them on Twitter, and found myself perusing their merchandise. Their slogan is #HistoryBegins, and it's true: This is the first time in history that women are being paid to play hockey professionally. The NHL has been one of the most successful pro sports leagues since its beginning in the early 1900s, but we've always known that men can be successful at sports. We need to recognize that women can be successful, too.

The NWHL is important because it's not showing that women can be professional athletes in theory, but that we are, and we need a platform to show it. The fact that there wasn't a single platform for women to play hockey professionally for pay shows the insane gap between male and female professional sports that is often swept under the rug.

No more sweeping. No more cover-ups. No more smoke screens, women working two jobs to pay for their goalie pads, preseason football getting the cover story in the newspaper sports section instead of the Women's World Cup, and no more empty seats at stadiums for women's sports. The seats were filled to capacity at the first NWHL game. People want to see these women play, they want to give their money away to help them succeed, want their daughters to have somebody to look up to. A little girl shouldn't be saying her favorite hockey player is Patrick Kane, Zdeno Chara, or Sidney Crosby. She should be saying Hilary Knight, Julie Chu, and Amanda Kessel. She just doesn't know any better yet, because these women are only televised once every four years at the Winter Olympics.

That's all over now. Games are happening and these women are playing. They're getting paid, getting endorsements, jerseys are sold, and seats are filled. This is it. This is the beginning of feminism in professional sports, the beginning of people openly speaking about the change that has only just begun.

The NWHL is where #HistoryBegins.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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