THE ATTACK: Uncovering Myths About Women’s Sports


Contributing Writer

Sports Terms

Through ball – in soccer, is a forward pass which goes through the opposing team’s defense.

Head on it – the striking of a ball in the air by a player’s head.

Break away – when an attacker with the ball approaches the goal undefended.


Is it true? If more women watched women’s sports, a critical mass of fans would be reached, and the media would have to pay attention. 

This is an old myth. In 2003, the New York Times ran a piece titled, “Why Don’t Women Watch Women’s Sports?” Two years ago, sportswriter Frank Deford spoke directly to women when he said, “Ladies, want women’s sports to get more attention? Pony up.” 

This is a weirdly limiting way at trying to fix an already limited issue. The move to cut off a huge chunk of a potential audience and force women to continue to shoulder the burden of why women’s sports aren’t popular enough is a strange one and assumes, incorrectly, that men aren’t interested in women’s sports, which is also untrue.

ESPN’s Graham Hays offered a litany of reasons why men don’t watch women’s sports, including the spelling of WNBA team names and the prevalence of commercials for feminine hygiene products. And, in June, Sports Illustrated writer Andy Benoit let Twitter know that “women’s sports in general [are] not worth watching.”

But the numbers aren’t on Hays and Benoit’s side. In general, more men than women follow sports, outnumbering them two to one among viewers of major events. In 2013, ESPN said, men accounted for the majority of its WNBA audience at 66 percent. In my opinion, at any college women’s basketball game, the crowd has male fans as crazed as those at the men’s games. Men also dominated the TV audience for the 2011 Women’s World Cup: 61 percent of the 13.5 million viewers for the U.S.-Japan final.

It isn’t the women alone who are going to change the world of women in sports. Currently, the majority of the audience is male. So, don’t be ashamed men, we know you’re out there watching women compete in sports, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Why do you have to be a fan of men’s sports or women’s sports? Can’t we just be sports fans?