Highlighting some of the bigger moments in sports for women this past year
With International Women’s Day on Mar. 8, it is a good time to examine some of the great progress being made for women’s athletics in North America.
Women sports have made great strides in the past decade, and so has the representation. This past year was especially important as women made some ground-breaking moves in some of the biggest sports leagues across the country.
Back in the fall, Sarah Fuller, student-athlete from Vanderbilt University located in Tennessee, was able to make history by becoming the first female to play in a professional football game. The 21-year-old championship soccer goalkeeper answered the call when the men’s football coach called. Displaying great confidence, Fuller stayed on the team for two weeks and was able to play in two games for Vanderbilt, recording a kickoff and converting on an extra point; she became the first woman to score in a professional football game.
The NFL has also made great progress in increasing their representation, as referee Sarah Thomas became the first woman to officiate the Super Bowl. Six female coaches were also a part of the most recent NFL playoffs these past two months. The NFL, along with numerous other leagues have also made it a priority to involve women in the gameday experience. The NFL has seen drastic increases in the number of women who have become sports reporters, announcers and have worked in the operations of the game.
Through this past NBA season, two female referees officiated a game between the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets, becoming the first game to feature multiple women. Just yesterday, the Toronto Raptors also announced the first ever all-female broadcast for an NBA game. Two weeks from now, the Raptors game on TSN will be play called and hosted by a group of five women.
In addition to many of the roles above, women have also seen an increase in front office positions. The Miami Marlins of the MLB had an incredible announcement a few months ago when they hired Kimberly Ng, who became the first female to hold a general manager position in the big-four leagues.
Throughout this past year, the MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL have made some great progress in improving the appearance of women’s sports an increasing the representation of women in sports. While significant improvements have been made, there is still a lot of work to do in order to increase the conversation surrounding women sports.
In the near future, we can expect there to be more female officials and coaches in many of these leagues; however that is not the main goal. Before Ng was hired in Miami, women had virtually never held the most important roles in a franchise such as coach, general manager or CEO. With the MLB starting the trend and many rising stars in both the NFL and NBA, the goal for these leagues should emphasise increasing representation in those roles, helping even the playing field.