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The women's games are expanding, let's get ready

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

For anyone who truly cares about sport the expansion of the women's game in our three main team sports, football, cricket and rugby, is a hugely positive development.

For so long the women's games have been starved of the same exposure that the men's games get which has robbed them of the ability to develop as quickly as those within the games would like.

In cricket 8 regional teams will compete in the televised Hundred tournament live on national television this summer, the England women's rugby team will have their finale Six Nations game broadcast live on BBC Two and the exciting Sky Sports and BBC deals with the Women's Super League in football means that the average casual sports fan is much more likely to happen upon, watch and enjoy the women's games there.

The attention of the casual observer means that the women who play at this level will also catch the attention of the casual misogynist. Many of the women playing will have grown up as little girls not expecting to be able to make a career in their sport. Many will have, until recently, have been ordinary students and employees. They will all have been playing just for the love of the game until recently.

What that means is that these players will be used to the echo chambers that we all usually enjoy on social media. Like-minded, and largely pleasant, people who share our views. Their followers will be teammates, fans of the women's game, allies and, generally speaking, those they can trust not to abuse, creep, stalk, screenshot, complain and make their lives difficult. That will soon change.

We are proud to work with a number of sports organisations and clubs in the women's games and, we are afraid to say, a big part of that help, support and education we give is to help prepare them to understand that they will need to: do a tidy up of your social media, treat the positivity and negativity online the same (don't get carried away), be more aware of the likely impact of your online activity, be prepared to protect yourself and to protect your legal rights when creeps seek to sexualise, objectify and abuse you and, generally, be robust and ready for the challenges ahead.

At the same time, though, don't forget the positivity. The women's game will grow enormously and social media will be an important battleground. There will be many clips online of women's games. It's a sad reality that this will often manifest in the sexist tropes and "jokes" about equal pay. It will be a painful growth but, I am sure, it will be worth it.


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