Women’s Sports: Deserving of More Recognition


Claire Peterson

(Design by Claire Peterson | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Max Lepore, Sports Writer


The fight for gender equality in the world has been going for hundreds of years. Women have had to deal with inequality in almost every area of their lives throughout our country. Sadly, the sports world is far from immune to these issues. Though progress has been made in many areas, men’s sports still tend to dominate most major areas. The pay gap, exposure to fans and media and overall recognition all heavily favor men’s sports. These problems are not limited to professional sports, either — collegiate sports deal with many of the same problems. Fighting for equal rights in sports at all levels is an ongoing issue, and it is a battle that athletes will have to continue to fight.

Women’s sports at the University of Utah have had to deal with these same struggles, despite some of the incredible successes they have achieved. Whether it is the incredible Missy Marlowe, one of only three gymnasts to ever win the Honda-Broderick Cup, which recognizes the nation’s best collegiate female athlete, the women’s basketball team and their elite eight appearance in 2006, or any of the other national titles won, the women’s section of the U’s athletics has always been achieving incredible feats.

Despite this continuous and consistent success, women’s sports at the U lack the recognition from fans and the media that men’s sports get. It isn’t fair to them, as they are setting records, breaking boundaries and overall doing noteworthy things at the same rate that men are. However, it is simply less likely for students and fans to hear about what happened to a women’s team than a men’s team in the same sport.

While inequality in women’s sports has long been an issue, the Olympics has been one of the best tools to bring attention and recognition to said issue. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics was the most gender-equal Olympics of all time, with a nearly even 50-50 split among women and men. Women’s sports at the U are no stranger to the Olympics too, with three different sports being represented at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Grace McCallum, MyKayla Skinner and Kara Eaker all competed on the United States Gymnastics Team, Hannah Flippen competed for the U.S. softball team while Anissa Utez competed for Mexico’s team. For women’s basketball, Leilani Mitchell competed for Australia and Kim Gaucher (née Smith) competed for Canada. Having seven different female athletes from the U is an incredible accomplishment, but it’s something that hasn’t been given the attention it deserves. Focusing on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics may be a good way to continue to bring more recognition to women’s sports at the U, and as a whole.

The NCAA has decided to start using their “March Madness” branding to promote the women’s basketball tournament, effective next March. While this is continued progress, one must wonder why it took the NCAA so long to do this. This is especially questionable when considering many of the recent accusations against the NCAA for their apparent lack of support for women’s sports. This extends to collegiate coaches too, as the average salary for a men’s assistant coach is more than $100,000 greater than it is for a women’s assistant coach. All of these things make it painfully clear that, despite progress, the inequality in collegiate sports is too strong to not be discussed.

Women’s sports at the U have been prevalent for decades. No stranger to success and achievement, various programs have to fight for the right to have high levels of exposure to the media and fans. As time goes on, women’s sports should receive more attention, because they deserve it just as much as any men’s team.

Ways to support women’s sports at the U include donating money, attending games and matches and simply talking about them in your social circle. Beyond the average person, focusing on promoting equal economic opportunities and presenting bias-free representation in the media are ways to further achieve equality in sports.

Working on all these things will help women’s sports reach the level and status they deserve, as an incredible part of the U community and leaders in athletics. While the issues of inequality in women’s sports in the past will continue to have lasting effects, it’s never too late to make an effort to give women’s sports the recognition and respect they deserve.



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