Canada’s Sophie Schmidt tries to keep control of the ball during the Women’s World Cup Group E soccer match between the Netherlands and Canada at Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims, France, Thursday, June 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

COLUMN: It’s past time to let the girls play

Women in sports have been sitting on the sideline for too long

The Women’s World Cup came to an end a few weeks ago and it was great to see that it scored higher viewership ratings than the men’s in the United States.

But don’t get excited just yet. That is only in one country and not around the world, and that it is not the case for major sporting events.

In Canada, out of 35,000 hours of sports programming, only four per cent featured women’s-only coverage, half of which came from the Olympics, according to a 2016 report from the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport.

READ MORE: Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Women who perform in women’s leagues are treated like second-class citizens. Female athletes are paid less than their male counterparts, get less commercial contracts and make less of a national name for themselves.

We need to make bold moves for women to advance in sports and that starts at a very young age, and this is where community and high school sports come in.

For starters let’s start mixing men and women on the high school teams. Why not? Why do women and men have to be separated in their physical activities based on gender? Can’t sports just be co-ed until it’s time for the big leagues? (Although in my dreaming-in-colour world the big leagues, like NHL and World Cup, will all be co-ed one day.)

READ MORE: 200 pro women hockey players form union in step toward league

Now hold on boys, before you get your panties in a bunch and start complaining, let me break down a few arguments for you:

Women in sports will make for a more entertaining and dynamic team. Research shows that women have different talents and attributes than men such as better stamina and leg strength. They are also more tactful, not being able to rely on brute strength to get the job done.

In terms of meritocracy, women athletes have to work just as hard as men, if not more, to reach their level of athleticism, yet receive only a quarter of the recognition, money, and fame.

READ MORE: Recent hirings applauded, but not many women in sport leadership roles

Finally, can we start hiring some more female coaches around here? Women don’t need to just coach other women, they can coach men too. And all the camps that come to town send males to train our young athletes. Whitecaps are coming to town next week, what is the first image that comes to mind when you think of their athletes?

Sports in smaller, remote cities have a hard time getting their athletes to the big leagues, so why not make waves by being leaders for gender equality in sports, and developing strong women?

Are sports really about watching the biggest and strongest fight one another or is it more about uniting people under a common goal, to bring community together?

And community cannot be brought together when half of it is sitting on the sidelines.


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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