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Speaking of the big game…Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day!

February 3, 2010

[caption id="attachment_3079" align="alignright" width="156" caption="The 1999 U.S. Women's Soccer Team"]The 1999 U.S. Women's Soccer Team[/caption] Almost 100 million Americans will watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, to see the top two men’s football teams go head to head for one of the most coveted championship titles in the nation. Perhaps the least surprising part of the game is that the only women participating will be ever-more-minimally-clothed cheerleaders on the sidelines. Besides the obvious issues of sexism laden throughout the Super Bowl and its advertisers – GoDaddy, anybody? – one major and often neglected issue is the lack of female participation and in sports generally.  The National Association for Women and Girls in Sport (NAGWS) reminds us that, “Despite the stunning advances made in the 38 years since Title IX was enacted, high school girls still receive 1.3 million fewer participation opportunities than do boys, and evidence suggests that the money spent on girls' sports programs lags significantly behind the money spent on boys' programs.” Lack of fair media coverage of women’s sporting events doesn’t help. Remember the 1999 World Cup?  A decade ago, the US Women’s National Soccer team changed the face of women’s sports. Their undeniable talent, public appeal, and grassroots efforts to connect with fans forced the media to pay unprecedented attention, and the team became the most talked-about athletes in the world – of either gender. The World Cup Championship drew over 90,000 spectators – the highest attendance of any women’s sporting event in history. It seemed like a turning point, and one that might have staying power. But when the US Women’s team defeated China in the final match and became the reigning world champions, the only thing we heard about was Brandi Chastain’s sports bra.  Could this be attributed to the fact that virtually all sports journalists covering any significant sport are male?   According to Media Report to Women, “Sports journalist jobs are overwhelmingly white and male. Women are just 6% of sports editors, 10% of assistant sports editors, 6% of columnists, 9% of reporters and 16% of copy editors/designers.” [caption id="attachment_3081" align="alignleft" width="206" caption="Global Girl Media"]Global Girl Media[/caption] But don’t hang up yer cleats just yet! In response, Global Girl Media’s Kick It Up! Project is working to train the next generation of female journalists to cover the upcoming FIFA Men’s World Cup this June in South Africa. The project links underserved girls with seasoned broadcasters and filmmakers, providing journalism and media training, equipment, and exposure. Thanks to new digital media platforms, the World Cup reports that the Project’s girl-created content will be broadly distributed, leading to a greater appreciation and participation in the sport of soccer for female players and fans globally. The 2010 Winter Olympics kick off next week – so if you’re looking to check out some world-class female athletes, follow the Vancouver Games here. To learn more about where women and girls are in sports today and the important role it plays you can check out the Women’s Sports Foundation report. Click here to find out more about Global Girl Media. And why not become a member while you're at it?