Thoughts and prayers for the crowd who insist no one cares about women’s sports

If you’ve heard a wail coming from a man cave or heard a boy complaining that a normally adventurous person doesn’t understand, give it some thought and a prayer.

Tuesday “No one cares about women’s sports!” It was a difficult day for the crowd

Within an hour it was announced that the women’s college basketball title game would be shown on ABC and the NWSL championship would be broadcast in primetime on CBS. That’s right. National exposures for two of the biggest events in women’s sports without the need for a cable or streaming subscription.

“A historic announcement for our league and our game,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman.

And one that is long overdue. Not out of charity or kindness, but rather, because the female players earned it.

Advocates have long insisted that, contrary to what the naysayers would have you believe, there is a market for women’s sports. They need the right platform.

Evaluations over the past few years have proven that to be true.

The national championship featuring South Carolina and UConn was the most-watched college basketball game, men’s or women’s, on ESPN since 2008. The 4.85 million viewers represented an 18% increase over the 2021 championship game and a 30% increase since 2019.

The Women’s College World Series averaged 1.1 million viewers, the third year in a row it topped one million, while the Championship Series averaged 1.6 million viewers. It set ratings records last season, after the Women’s College World Series and the College Cup, the National Football Championship.

The WNBA announced that ratings for the playoffs are up 39% from last year, with Sunday’s game between the Dallas Wings and Connecticut Suns the most-watched playoff game in 15 years.

It followed the league’s ratings across all networks up 16% in the regular season, building on last year’s 49% increase. The regular-season finale between the Seattle Storm and Las Vegas Aces, a glimpse into a playoff semifinal matchup, was the most-watched WNBA game in 14 years, peaking at 1.1 million viewers.

National TV games are rare for the NWSL — expect that to change when the league’s three-year contract expires next year — but the league has averaged more than 400,000 viewers for its four games on CBS so far this season. That includes 456,000 for a preseason game between the San Diego Wave and Angel City FC, both expansion teams.

Last year’s NWSL title game drew 525,000 viewers, despite the noon Eastern start.

Oh, and Fox announced last week that it will air the U.S. Women’s Oct. 7 friendly against England on the main network. The Three Lionesses’ victory over Germany in the European Championship final attracted 17 million people, making it the most-watched TV show in England so far this year.

“I was told, ‘Oh, it doesn’t rate, Carol. There are no eyeballs.’ And I go, ‘It doesn’t rate because no one can see it!’ “Carol Stiff, who oversaw women’s sports programming at ESPN before retiring last summer, told USA TODAY Sports earlier this year.

“I keep using the saying, ‘If you build it, they will come,’ ” Stiff said.

Now, men are committed to trashing women’s sports — and it’s almost exclusively men — pointing out that even with improved ratings, women’s sports audiences still don’t compare to men’s sports. And that, to a large extent, is true.

But it’s also a pleasure to win the 100m race after giving a 60m head start.

Title IX celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this summer, and the NCAA held its first women’s basketball tournament 10 years after the landmark law was enacted. The WNBA is in its 26th season, the NWSL its 10th. Of course they won’t be in the NFL, NBA and NCAA men’s tournaments, which have all been around for 75 years or more.

Those leagues are not where they used to be. It wasn’t until the NFL merger that every team had all its games on TV. It wasn’t until 1968 that the networks showed serious interest in broadcasting the NCAA men’s tournament. NBA games were still being shown on tape delay in the 1980s.

The potential for women’s sports is vast, and Tuesday’s announcements are a reflection of that. If someone says differently, that’s their reflection.


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