Changing the game: accessibility is the key to further progress in women’s sport

Changing the game: accessibility is the key to further progress in women’s sport

Charity Williams, Canada’s Olympic bronze medalist in rugby, believes people would attend and watch women’s sports a lot more if women were marketed in a way that allowed them to be visible to a wider audience.

Williams, who took part in the “ Change the Game: The Future of Women’s Sports ” panel discussion hosted by Andi Petrillo of CBC Sports on Wednesday, acknowledged that progress has been made in commercializing the product for women, but is keen to see more new heights.

Being in Victoria, BC, with the Canadian Rugby Team, she mentioned that people weren’t very aware of who they were and that they were playing for Canada at the Olympic level, using it as example of the work that could be done in terms of visibility. .

“Sometimes I feel like for some reason people don’t think we can get that much attention or generate income or whatever. But we don’t,” Williams said. . “It’s just that people don’t know. I think if people knew about me in rugby that we were there [in Victoria, B.C.], people were watching and showing up to the games.

“I think it’s about accessibility. If you know, then you want to see. But if you don’t know, then we’re just a varsity team at this point.”

Williams was joined by hockey player Laura Stacey, baseball player Claire Eccles, The Gist co-founder Jacie deHoop and Curling Canada CEO Katherine Henderson.

Social media impact

Across various popular platforms, including The Gist, Eccles believes social media is a viable option for amplifying the visibility of women’s sport.

“I think social media has been a huge thing. Just same with all of the NCAA [inequality] question, Sedona Prince of Oregon – her social media presence really helped the numbers for the women’s basketball tournament, ”Eccles said.

“I think giving women that platform and getting them to be seen and seen more, and The Gist for example, having these kinds of platforms that are more of a broadcast of what’s going on in women’s sport helps everyone see. more of what’s going on. “

Part of the growth required for any product is accessibility to potential fans in other countries. When assessing the growth of other popular leagues, deHoop says that scaling up is a crucial part of improving audience size.

“We’ve found that with the American and Canadian audiences – just the fact that our Canadian audiences can’t watch the NWSL or the WNBA very easily, there just isn’t a fan base,” deHoop said.

“It’s really hard to get real interest in these sports and athletes. … I think that [accessibility is] a big step forward and it is very important to grow [women’s sports]. “

“ People want to watch women’s sports ”

Another hurdle is the way women’s sports are treated from a timing perspective in TV programming, Stacey explained.

“A women’s event won’t be watched if it’s in the middle of a Wednesday when everyone is working,” Stacey said. “I think it’s been very obvious lately that people want to invest, that people want to watch women’s sports.

“I think for us as girls hockey players we see it at all the Olympics. The women’s final, even the matches throughout the preliminary rounds of the Olympics – everyone is watching. The numbers are huge. The three years in between, no one exists anymore. . “

In Henderson’s eyes, the media landscape could only benefit from greater integration with women’s sport.

“Make women an integral part of your sport – you have a lot more to talk about, you have a lot more interesting athletes to see, more events that make you more money,” said Henderson.

“You have more people interested in what you have to say and our women are so good that the men are just as interested in their performance as they are with the male athletes.”

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