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Amid women’s sports reckoning, are media outlets looking in the mirror?

Texas v South Carolina

For 24 hours a few weeks ago, possibly for the first time in history, the eyes of the entire world were on the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. You know why. 

It wasn’t because of Aliyah Boston or Paige Bueckers, Baylor’s title defense or Stanford’s dominant run through the Pac-12 tournament. 

It was because of the “training facilities” the NCAA had set up for its female athletes, which paled in comparison to those it supplied the men. The outrage was swift, fierce, and absolutely justified. 

But now here we are, a week and a half later. The Women’s Final Four is shaping up to be must-see TV. Yet how many outlets are talking about the contrast of style in play between South Carolina and Stanford? Why aren’t Aari McDonald or Evina Westbrook household names all across the country? 

After Oregon forward Sedona Prince posted that now-infamous video of the women’s weight room and the backlash began, every single media outlet jumped on the bandwagon. They shared photos and videos taken by players, critical statements from coaches and analytics, all while soaking in the likes, shares and retweets for as long as the topic was trending. For 24 hours, everyone agreed that the women deserved to be treated as equals, rather than second-class citizens. 

But since then, have any of those same media outlets increased their coverage of the women’s tournament? Did anyone assign additional reporters to cover the games? Are highlights being shared more widely? How many podcasts and debate shows are talking about the women’s tournament at all, let alone with any regularity? 

The answer is not much. According to data from sports analytics firm, Zoomph, between March 15-30, the biggest sports media outlets sent out more than 5,000 organic posts across their social media channels, yet only 98 of them revolved around the Women’s NCAA Tournament (less than 2%!). And nearly half of those posts surrounded the weight room situation. By comparison, the men’s tournament has seen more than double the number of posts from those same outlets, with the focus overwhelmingly on the games. 

The NCAA deserves all the criticism it got this past month. But piling on the NCAA is easy. 

How many of us in the media industry have looked in the mirror since then and asked ourselves what we’ve done — and continue to do — to help enable and perpetuate this disparity? The NCAA clearly undervalues its female basketball players. But how many media outlets have implicitly told them this is OK, given that they, too, underinvest in covering the women’s game? 

It was precisely this disparity in media coverage that led me to create Just Women’s Sports. Just 4% of sports media coverage is devoted to women’s sports, and so long as men’s sports remain the bread and butter of mainstream platforms, these outlets will continue to sideline women, or only give them coverage when a story of inequity breaks into the mainstream. 

It’s long past time for women’s sports to have its own spotlight. By building a platform that exclusively invests in women’s sports and gives them the space and attention they deserve, we can build a superior experience for current fans while also creating the content necessary to attract a new audience. It’s our genuine belief that every sports fan is a potential women’s sports fan — but they need to see more stories than just those highlighting inequity. They need to understand that this is a dynamic space full of dynamic individuals with incredible stories. 

It’s fair to say that there has been slightly more coverage of the women’s tournament this year than in years past, but it still pales in comparison to the level of attention given to the men’s tournament. Interestingly, that data from Zoomph also showed that social media posts about the women’s tournament have garnered more engagements, impressions, and a higher engagement rate from fewer posts. If anything, seeing Paige Bueckers and UConn trending on Twitter multiple times in recent days is further proof that the audience for women’s sports exists. It just isn’t being fully served on a regular basis. 

A world in which women’s sports are only given token verticals on websites and irregular media coverage is the same world in which these women are given dumbbells and a yoga mat while their male counterparts receive a fully-equipped weight room. So long as women continue to receive inferior coverage, they will continue to receive inferior treatment.

Since launching last year, we’ve already proven that an audience for this content exists, and that it’s passionate and hungry for more. We’re not the only ones trying to change the game, but I can promise you the game is being changed. 

Haley Rosen founded Just Women’s Sports in 2020. A former professional soccer player, Rosen was named to the All-Pac-12 team while playing at Stanford. 

Nelly Korda ties LPGA record with fifth-straight tournament win

Nelly Korda of the United States celebrates with the trophy after winning The Chevron Championship
Nelly Korda poses with her trophy after acing her fifth-straight tour title at The Chevron Championship on Sunday. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

25-year-old American pro golfer Nelly Korda secured her spot in LPGA history on Sunday, notching her fifth-straight title at this weekend's Chevron Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.

Ranked No. 1 in the world by Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Korda joins Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sörenstam (2005) as just the third LPGA player to rack up five consecutive tour wins. She is also the third No. 1-ranked player to capture The Chevron Championship victory since the rankings debuted in 2006, accompanied by Lorena Ochoa and Lydia Ko.

The Florida native shot three-under 69 in Sunday's final, besting Sweden's Maja Stark despite Stark's valiant come-from-behind attempt in the 18th. Korda finished with a four-day total of 13-under 275, celebrating her two-stroke win by cannonballing into Poppie's Pond, much to the crowd's delight. She left The Club at Carlton Woods with $1.2 million from an overall purse of $7.9 million.

It wasn't long ago that the two-time major champion's current winning streak seemed unimaginable. After maintaining her No. 1 position for 29 weeks, Korda underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from her left arm in 2022. She returned to the course not long after, but failed to win a single tournament in 2023 before seeing a surge in form during the first four months of 2024. As of today, she hasn't lost a tournament since January.

Korda will attempt a record sixth-straight win at next week's JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, where she'll vie for a cut of the $3.75 million purse.

Smith and Swanson shine in action-packed NWSL weekend

sophia smith celebrates after a goal for the portland thorns
Sophia Smith's 27th-minute goal paved the way for Portland's first win of the season. (Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports)

USWNT regulars Sophia Smith and Mallory Swanson furthered their cases for Olympic inclusion with their respective club victories on Saturday and Sunday.

After a roller coaster of a week that saw former Thorns head coach Mike Norris reassigned and a flurry of last-minute roster reshufflings as Friday's trade window closure loomed, the NWSL sprung to life over the weekend with standout performances from ninth-place Portland and third-place Chicago, among others.

After her blocked attempt at goal set up a volleying sixth-minute opener from veteran Christine Sinclair — now the only player in history to record a goal in all 11 NWSL seasons — Smith swiftly netted her own in the 27th minute off a breakaway run that eluded Houston's backline. The goal represented Smith's third of the season as well as her 35th for the Thorns, ultimately leading to the home side's first win of the season in a 4-1 routing of the Dash.

But that wasn't Smith's only stat of the evening. The star forward also lapped former Chicago Red Star Sam Kerr to become the youngest player to reach 50 NWSL goal contributions across all games, chalking up 40 goals and 10 assists at the age of 23 years and 254 days.

"Obviously it feels good to get a win," said Smith in a post-match press conference. "But this is the standard the Thorns have always had. So a win is great, but a win is the expectation — we're hungrier than ever after the way we started."

170 miles up the road, Lumen Field similarly showcased some promising Olympic prospect footwork on Sunday. In Chicago's 2-1 victory over the lagging 13th-place Seattle Reign, striker Mallory Swanson racked up an impressive counterattack assist on fellow forward Ally Schlegel's fourth-minute goal. Swanson went on to find the back of the net herself before halftime, lacing an explosive ball into the top corner in the 31st minute, her second of the season after returning from a lengthy sidelining injury.

Speaking of injuries, fellow USWNT favorites Alex Morgan and Tierna Davidson were not as fortunate as their national squad teammates this weekend. Each exited their club matches early, Morgan with an ankle knock in San Diego's loss to Orlando and Davidson with an apparent hamstring incident early on in Washington's win over Gotham.

LSU takes first-ever NCAA gymnastics title

Kiya Johnson of the LSU Tigers reacts after winning the national championship during the Division I Women's Gymnastics Championships
Gymnast Kiya Johnson celebrates LSU's win at the NCAA Division I Women's Gymnastics Championships. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

LSU came out on top at the 2024 NCAA women's gymnastics championship in Fort Worth on Saturday, besting Cal, Utah, and Florida to capture their first-ever title.

The Tigers' win was far from a landslide. LSU took the first rotation handily thanks to 2024 All-Around winner Haleigh Bryant's team-leading 9.9375 backed by four additional 9.9+ scores from her teammates. But Utah then responded with three strong beam performances of their own, causing the Red Rocks to slide confidently into second place by the end of the second rotation.

By the halfway point, all four teams fell within .288 points of one another before Utah overtook the pack with a dominant floor showing after three rotations. LSU then went on to ace the beam event with Konnor McClain's meet-leading 9.9625 score, coming away with the highest collective score ever awarded to the event in NCAA championship history. The achievement propelled the Tigers to victory, ensuring them the title after the final rotation.

"This team is full of individuals that have incredible character and integrity and love for each other and all the things you hear from coaches when they sit at a podium like this in a moment of victory, but I promise you it's a real thing," said LSU coach Jay Clark in a post-meet press conference. "I'm just so happy for them."

Contributing to Saturday's atmosphere of excitement was the absence of last year's champion and this year's heavily favored Oklahoma Sooners. Hot off earning the highest team score in NCAA history just last month, the top-ranked Norman squad suffered a shocking loss in the semifinals, where five major mistakes contributed to a third-place finish and a season-low team score of 196.6625.

With Oklahoma out, it was truly anyone's game.

"Every team was out there fighting for their lives — all four teams, it could have gone any of four ways out there," Clark told reporters. "As much as I feel for what happened to Oklahoma in the semifinals, I think it made for a championship that became so packed with emotion because every team out there believed they could do it. It was just tremendous."

LSU is now the eighth program in the sport's history to earn an NCAA women's gymnastic championship.
They share the honor with Georgia, Utah, UCLA, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, and Michigan.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

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