Don’t back the bias: Women’s sports are here to stay

Don’t back the bias: Women’s sports are here to stay

Gwen Henry | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

As Iowa hero Caitlin Clark walked off the court for the final time in Sunday’s women’s NCAA National Championship game, a sellout crowd and a nation of people sitting on the edge of their seats from home experienced the power of a game built on empowerment.

The game between Iowa and South Carolina peaked at 24 million viewers and averaged 18.7 million sets of eyes throughout, making it the second most-watched non-Olympic women’s sporting event ever on television, behind only the 2015 Women’s World Cup final. Putting women’s sports aside, it was the most watched sporting event since 2019, including all men’s or women’s college or professional sporting events.

Still not a believer? Well, welcome to the minority.

As former NBA superstars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce bickered on a podcast episode prior to the National Championship weekend, they came to the conclusion that more people could name five women’s college basketball players than men’s. The crew realized that turnover in the men’s game has made superstars somewhat irrelevant, while the “electric” environment of women’s basketball has become more entertaining and engaging than ever before.

“It is blowing the guys’ game out of the water,” Garnett said.

For the longest time, the gripe against women’s sports was silly. In 2016, women received just 4% of sports media and television coverage. Yes, that is all women’s sports.

However, even with the boom in the sport, not everything has been good. During the entertaining March Madness season, along came an LA Times preview article whose depiction of LSU basketball as “villains” and “dirty debutantes” flashed the lasting issues of sexism, racism and bias surrounding the sport. The since-edited column attacked not only the character of head coach Kim Mulkey but also the character of her players and fans. At the end of the day, a story like this would never pass an editor’s desk if it used such terminology when depicting a men’s basketball game that would surely break TV ratings records.

When the game grows, so does the criticism. As people who take in the content, we need to start holding others accountable for the way they talk about the game and people above all else.

Sure, Clark and LSU star Angel Reese were one of a kind and put women’s basketball on the block, but their flashy and fun style of play has inspired a generation of players who will continue to spark excitement within the game. As they head for the next level of basketball, a new age begins. Don’t count out the storylines: Women’s basketball is here to stay.

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