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Sky Sports debate the impact of COVID-19 on women's sport

Bethany Hushon
Authored by Bethany Hushon
Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2020 - 12:58

One thing this pandemic has highlighted is how women's sport has made strides over the years yet there are still barriers and restrictions - especially with many in society still having a socio-political outlook and negative perception. It is a reflection of education and culture, yet we can challenge these stigmatisms to create accessibility for all.

During the Sky Sports Main Event Live TV Event 'CANCELLED: Women's Sport and the Impact of Covid-19', former England rugby union player Will Greenwood called people with such negative outlooks on women’s sport as 'muppets', saying: “Anyone with a fingernail of common sense can see the role women’s sport plays in society”.

The people who know the importance of women’s sport know the need to inspire others, not just to watch the sport but for physical and mental health.

Utilise the data

Ebony Rainford-Brent, former England cricketer, pointed out that women's sports don't concentrate on the data enough to help growth. "We need to make women's sport commercially viable on its own," she said. 

According to Nielsen Sports Women's Sport Research 2018, 66% of the population is interested in at least one women's sport. Using these figures will attract brands and capitalise on investment.

"What is going to make you come to the game, unpick our audience".

Be commercially viable

Investment and funding in women’s sport is still an area which needs improving. It needs to become commercially viable by creating an attractive entertainment business proposition that sponsors want to be associated with. Women’s sport has the opportunity to be more agile, flexible and innovating, all traits that can benefit the business objectives for a sponsor. See it as a start-up business looking for investment to create the perfect product with sponsors open to influence and support, seeing the long-term benefits to them and women’s sport.

And don't forget your fans

Another business angle is the fans themselves. The sponsors that have the vision and want to understand will connect with these new fans, which are becoming more fluid in their approach in consuming sport. Tamsin Greenway, former England netballer, stated it is getting into the audience's mind and how they talk and engage in sport: "Women don't tend to watch women's sport in the same way as the men's game".

It is a separate product and governing bodies need to look at other ways to 'dress-up' the coverage to provide a more appealing entity for the fans. This is not just in terms of matchday and live games, also look at how you keep the conversation going, such as social media and unique content.

Education, education, education

Women's sport has a long way to go to get anyway near the level of coverage of their male counterparts. Having these conversations is a start for growth insisted Angela Ruggiero, Co-Founder Sports Innovation Lab: “Rules are being rewritten and education is key.”

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