Women’s sport is the new currency in town

There’s a new currency in town: Women’s Sports. No new league, sports format, or major sports announcement is complete without trumpeting what it will do for women.

Big! Is not it? In a world where what matters is how something looks rather than the substance underneath, good PR is everything. Certainly where there is profit to be made in sport. Philanthropy has always existed; For some successful people, giving back is right, for others, it helps put your conscience at ease. And it’s looking pretty good for almost everyone, too.

At company level, this is “Corporate Social Responsibility”. Anything that relies to some degree on public investment is committed to CSR, be it supporting underprivileged children or investing money in local communities. And now gender is in fashion.

which is great. Or at least a spirited size. The term “sportswashing” has become familiar to us recently: sport to whitewash a tarnished reputation, especially when it comes to human rights violations. Now we have gender washing. Because despite this new interest and the intention to invest in women’s sport, the actual benefits for women are often not thought through enough.

Take the two lines reserved for the women’s game in the recent ill-fated European Super League announcement. “As soon as possible […]A corresponding women’s league will also be launched, which will help to advance and develop women’s football,” it said.

The respective women’s teams were not even consulted; Any advantage for women’s football is an afterthought. A handy sweetener for a controversial big-money deal in men’s sports, which is increasingly being bet on the PR benefits of being seen as gendered.

Just not so excited that you realize how transparent some of these gestures seem. That same month, Leyton Orient Football Club announced that it would sever ties with its women’s team in favor of establishing a girls’ academy with a separate, lower-level women’s team. The statement framed the decision as “a new direction for her activities in women’s football”.

However, the women’s team was again not consulted. Worse once they were informed about it accomplished fact and returned with an alternative proposal, the men’s club reportedly declined to even consider or discuss that option. The reality was that this was an easy way to save money.

In cricket, the Indian men’s Premier League has 26 million paid TV subscribers and 31 million social media followers. The sport’s most lucrative tournament has used these platforms to publicize campaigns to fund feminine hygiene products and even a one-off mixed-gender match (though silently axed with no explanation). But the IPL has never hosted an equivalent women’s tournament, although it has held 14 of the men’s versions annually.

Even The Hundred, which begins in July, has found women a comfortable buffer in the controversial launch of an entirely new format of cricket. That this is the first cricket tournament to have a men’s and women’s version from the start is a big and real step forward. Also the fact that marketing and sponsorship have tried to achieve a balanced gender ratio.

Yet as much as the ECB may trumpet the same prize money and platform, enforcing double-header games and maintaining a staggering wage disparity (a female player can expect 15 percent of men’s wages), much of the underlying systemic inequality persists .

Maybe all part of the gradual evolution of women’s football. However, insiders at the ECB have conceded that without the women’s portion of the tournament it would not have happened at all. The very premise of The Hundred was to showcase a sport that is accessible to all; The salaries of these high-profile men actually depend on their female counterparts.

Cynicism, of course, should not guide all our impressions. The benefits The Hundred could bring to women’s football are real and could change the financial landscape for women cricketers. It won’t hurt the ECB if there are more paying punters and gamblers, aka consumers, if nothing else.

Still good to be careful. When the secretary of the Indian Cricket Federation tweeted on International Women’s Day that his women’s team would play a Test against England this summer, India’s first in seven years, it was the first time the ECB had heard of it. Talks had begun, but confirmation and its logistics were a long way off. The pressure of the optics prevailed.

Anyone who works in women’s sport has long since accepted that good things often happen for the wrong reasons. However, it is up to all of us to ensure that these good things create real and lasting change. Women’s sport is the new currency in town

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