February 5th 2020 marks the 34th National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD). It is held annually in the United States during the first week of February since its declaration by former President Ronald Regan in 1987. The day celebrates female athletes, acknowledging their accomplishments and the positive influence of participation in sport. NGWSD was initiated as a day to remember Flo Hyman for her athletic achievements and work towards equality for woman in sport.
NGWSD is used to honour the progress and acknowledge the continuing struggle that is equality for females in sport. Historically, support for female athletes has been an uphill battle due to serious inequities in access, quality, and availability of female sport. Over the years participation has increased dramatically with new opportunities arising, equal rights legislation, and the global women’s rights movement. Unfortunately, despite changing times the gender hierarchy in regard to sport has remained fairly consistent demonstrated in limited media coverage of woman’s sport today.
Coverage of women’s sport is minimal compared to their male counterparts. When examining popular sports networks such as Sportsnet and Sportscentre, women’s sports were hardly given recognition, if at all. In a one hour segment from Sportscentre from 2017 there was no time allotted for women’s sport. Women are also excluded behind the scenes as sport reporters and commentators are overwhelmingly male. Women who wish to make it in the sports industry must work hard to break down the walls that have been built. Walls that have been built to exclude them from sport in many facets throughout history. Even when a woman manages to defy all, there is a high chance she is not taken as seriously as she would be in she were a man.
Equality for women in sport is a continual struggle. Limited media coverage reaffirms that women’s sport is far from a priority. Despite progress that has been made, there is still a world to go in regard to equality for women in sport. Fortunately, we continue to observance events such as NGWSD to recognize the brave woman who have overcome oppression in sport, and those who have yet to come.