Today is National Girls and Women in Sports Day. The hashtag is trending on Twitter, and social media is flooded with photos and stories of women who are kicking butt and taking names in the sports industry. Women in the industry are sharing about their journey into the sports world as well as flashback photos of them as children in a variety of team uniforms and sports gear. Some are posting advice and even reaching out to women who may one day want to pursue a career in sports to send DMs asking for advice.
For every photo of a women clad in business attire holding a microphone on a field or a court, and for every woman in sneakers holding a camera, and for every woman with a cell phone posting to official team social media — for each of those posts, there are also posts of women recounting the times they’ve been harassed by a male co-worker or asked to do something that wasn’t in their job description. For every woman posting their success, there’s a woman who has walked away from the industry she loved and never looked back because she was made to feel that she didn’t belong there. Each story of triumph and perseverance also has a counterpart of pain and unfair treatment.
There have been some big stories in the media recently about women in sports being harassed or treated inappropriately by their male counterparts. Those brave stories are bringing to attention what almost every female in the sports world has experienced personally, but what many men are unaware of.
In honor of Women and Girls in Sports Day, a clip of Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard has been posted to social media. The Portland guard talks about how men who want to discredit women in sports should “take a step back and reevaluate themselves.” He says, “Women in sports are often overlooked, undercompensated, and we don't have to live that reality.”
I’ve been very fortunate as a woman in the sports industry to work with really great people here at Blazers Edge and in my other sports endeavors. Even being surrounded with really supportive encouraging men, I have stories. Most women in sports have them — an interaction that didn’t feel right, an inappropriate DM, a text message that crossed a line. Most of the time these things aren’t talked about. They’re pushed to the side and ignored while the women dealing with them start second guessing our clothing choices, and the photos we share on Instagram. We take a longer route to get where we are going or do what we can to avoid dealing with a man who made us uncomfortable in a place where we belong. For all of time, sports has been a male dominated world — in the players, the support staff, and the media. But women are making moves and filling roles that we haven’t previously had access to, bringing to the table a fresh perspective and a new voice.
Women belong on the field and on the court. They belong behind a camera shooting footage and images, and they belong in front of it, too: giving analysis, interviewing players, and talking about the sports they love. Women belong at a keyboard, reporting on games and telling stories. They belong in radio rooms, podcast studios, training facilities, and on the bench in coaching roles. Women belong in sports.