There is a safe haven in knowing you are surrounded, supported and preceded by your kind. An assurance in knowing you are not alone and that you have others to look up to. The ones that understand better from your point of view. This is what I find when I see celebrated women in various works of life. Great women who have lined the way for those who come behind them. But not nearly enough have been celebrated in the world of sports.
You don’t think so? Then tell me one popular sports woman you know, off the top of your head, excluding the William sisters.
Women put in so much in their lives and those of everyone else around them and it is high time we start celebrating them especially in sports. It is a lot more difficult for women in the world of sports not because they’re not competent enough, but because of misconceptions about women participating in sports.
But we must change this narrative and fight this stereotype. We must allow and encourage young girls to be the best version of themselves especially on the field. Let us provide support to our sisters, daughters and friends who have chosen to be active in sports.
Challenges women face in sports
There is so much that women have to fight in the pursuit of their sports dreams.
- Support: “it’s not a thing that girls do”. Nothing kills your morale like having to hide something you enjoy doing because you know you won’t get any support from the people you trust. The stereotype around what women should and should not do can limit our views in accepting the roles women take in the world of sports.
- Sexism: what law states that women are as good as any man in any sport they chose to play? Women have proven themselves to be just as athletic as men, or even more in some cases, and deserve to be treated as well as the men are.
- Lesser pay:“According to CNBC, WNBA players earn 20 percent of an NBA player’s minimum salary.
- To put everything in context, the minimum salary of a professional NBA player is $582,180, a $10,000 raise from last season’s minimum which was $562,493. As for NBA referees, salaries are $150,000 which goes to show that even refs — who aren’t athletes — make more than a WNBA champ
- Respect: “The biggest issues facing women in sports right now are visibility and respect. Women are still not given the same opportunities as men, and it does not seem like our accomplishments are viewed as being as impressive as men are.”
What they need
We all must take certain conscious steps to remedy the situations sports women have been placed in.
- Firstly, we must accept that we have failed in understanding that all females have the liberty to choose what or where they place their interest and efforts.
- Next, we must be willing to communicate with them and respect their choices.
- Financial and moral support are keys to helping them achieve their dreams. This applies to all educational institutions at all levels, at home and even to the government. Female sports teams should be given as much attention and support as the male teams.
- Investments should be made in coaches and equipment for training
- The achievements of female athletes should be awarded and recognized.
Women have proven to be adept in sports and have acquired awards and medals to their names to back up their efforts and commitments.
Asisat Oshoala remains the most influential woman in Nigerian sports. The Super Falcons forward continues to make steady strides towards becoming a legend. In 2017, the 23-year-old had an impressive year in her debut season in China with Dalian Quanjian.
She was voted the best striker in the Chinese Women’s Super League.
Oshoala was in January named the 2017 African Women’s Player of the Year third time she is getting that award.
She is the only Mozambican athlete in history, including both men and women, to have won a world or Olympic title. She is also the only athlete in history to have won four world or Olympic titles over 800 meters. She specializes in mid-stance, including 800 meters. Mutola won the Olympic title in 2000, three titles at the World Open-Air Championships, as well as seven victories at the World Indoor Championships.
Fought through kidney stone problems at a period in her career to become the most decorated female gymnast ever and is the first American to win a medal at every world event from 2011-2018.
Written by Lois Samari