Women’s sports includes amateur as well as women’s professional sports, in all varieties of sports. Female participation and popularity in sports increased dramatically in the twentieth century, especially in the last quarter-century, reflecting changes in modern societies that emphasized gender parity. Although the level of participation and performance still varies greatly by country and by sport, women’s sports are widely accepted throughout the world today. In a few instances, such as figure skating, female athletes rival or exceed their male counterparts in popularity. In many sports women usually do not compete on equal terms against men. Although there has been a rise in participation by women in sports, a large disparity still remains. These disparities are prevalent globally and continue to hinder equality in sports. Many institutions and programs still remain conservative and do not contribute to gender equity in sports.
Until now, how and why working women integrate sports and fitness activities into their personal and professional lives has been the subject of speculation and not much research. This study is the first to explore the role of sports and exercise in the lives of women who work outside the home. Among the more significant findings of the research is that most working women participate in some kind of sports activity. And they believe that these activities have positive effects that help them on the job.
Media coverage has slightly increased and this is mostly due to social networking. Social media has further exposed women sports out to the public world, and often at a much greater rate than traditional news media. Traditional media has also improved its coverage of women’s sports through more exposure time and using better equipment to record the events. Recent research has shown that in the past twenty years, camera angles, slow motion replays, quality and graphics regarding the presentation of women sports has gradually improved.However, mainstream media still is far behind in its showcasing of female sports in comparison to that of men’s. A study has shown that ESPN, which began airing women NCAA tournament in 2003, aired eleven women tournament segments in comparison to one-hundred men’s tournament segments.ESPN and other sports outlets are airing more female-oriented sporting events; however the length of the segments are very small. This representative data is showcases a main part of the minimal interaction the media has with women athletes. Media coverage of women sports in the United States has further justified the divisional hierarchy faced by women athletes in terms of popularity and coverage. Scholarly studies (Kane, M. J., LaVoi, N. M., Fink, J. S. (2013) also show that when women athletes were given the option to pick a photo of a picture that would increase respect for their sport, they picked an on-the-court competency picture. However, when women athletes were told to pick a picture that would increase interest in their sport, 47% picked a picture that sexualized the women athlete. The UK is more representative than the United States with the BBC giving women’s sports about 20% of their sports coverage (BBC spokesperson). Many women athletes in the UK do not see this as adequate coverage for the 36% of women who participate in sports.
Today, women compete professionally and as amateurs in virtually every major sport, though the level of participation typically decreases when it comes to the more violent contact sports; few schools have women’s programs in American football, boxing or wrestling.There are exceptions to this, such as the Utah Girls Football League and Professional Girl Wrestling Association. However, these typical non-participation habits may slowly be evolving as more women take real interest in the games, for example Katie Hnida became the first woman ever to score points in a Division I NCAA American football game when she kicked two extra-points for the University of New Mexico in 2003.
Modern sports have seen the development of a higher profile for female athletes in other historically male sports, such as golf, marathons or ice hockey. These significant participation rise, has allowed more women to participate in traditionally male dominated sports and increased the sports popularity globally.
As of 2013, the only sports that men, but not women play professionally in the United States are football, baseball, and Ultimate Frisbee. Although basketball, soccer and hockey have female sports leagues, they are far behind in terms of exposure and funding compared to the men’s teams.
Recently there has been much more crossover as to which sports males and females participate in, although there are still some differences. For example, at the 1992 Winter Olympics, both genders were allowed to participate in the sport of figure skating, previously a female-only sporting event. However, the programs for the event required men to perform three triple jumps, and women only one.