On Sunday, January 19, 2020, history was made at the Super Bowl LIV. Various women, who were a part of the biggest day in the NFL franchise broke down gender barriers. Katie Sowers, the current San Francisco 49ers offensive line assistant coach, was the first woman in NFL history to coach in a Super Bowl. As well, Laura A. McCabe with the San Francisco 49ers, Tiffany Morton and Julie Frymyer with the Kansas City Chiefs were the first female athletic therapists to provide medical care at the Super Bowl.
Athletic therapists are the team behind the teams, and have to be ready for anything at any time. They are the first responders on the scene of an injury and, from that moment on, they work to get the player back to the game. They work one on one with athletes, and collaborate with coaches, doctors, and other team personnel to create personal programs for prevention and recovery from injury and other health issues. Unless someone has been an elite athlete themselves or worked in the therapy industry, the public does not understand the important role and demands that athletic therapists contribute to team and athletic success.
Currently, women are underrepresented in positions within the NFL, as the industry continues to be male-dominated. However, women make up nearly half of the NFL audience. Therefore, more women should be given the opportunity to hold positions and careers within the sporting industry. According to the National Athletic Trainers Association, women make up more than 50% of athletic therapist positions, however, there are only eight full-time female athletic therapists within the whole NFL franchise. Women are continuing to break down gender barriers by changing these numbers, and making history for female professionals.
According to Mazerolle, Borland, and Burton (2012) young female athletic trainers face challenges within the professional sporting world by not being taken seriously or heard. The study found that when teams, coaches and medical professionals communicated clearly, addressed their expectations and philosophies, and had a supportive head athletic trainer, gender bias was reduced within the sport environment. Female athletic therapists need to be assertive when addressing their role’s importance, and their importance to the team, as more and more positions continue to open within the sporting industry. Having the support from those in powerful positions, women feel empowered and will continue to take over the medical sport industry.