The Rise of Women’s Sports: More Popular than Ever in 2023


Welcome to the first installment of our five-part Women in Sports blog series, where we celebrate the incredible achievements, inspiring stories, and unwavering passion of women in the world of sports. From the pioneers who shattered glass ceilings to the rising stars who continue to redefine the game, our Women in Sports blog series will be a powerful tribute to their indomitable spirit and resilience. Alongside honoring their remarkable journeys, we aim to provide insightful perspectives that contribute to the broader conversation around women’s sports, shedding light on their extraordinary contributions and the lasting cultural impact they have made on the world.

If you’ve heard that watching women’s sports is like watching paint dry, I’m fairly certain whoever you heard it from was someone who hasn’t followed college or professional women’s sports in the past 20 years. There have always been outstanding, groundbreaking women from Wilma Rudolph, Babe Didrickson, to Billie Jean King to name a few. But, suddenly, in the past 25 years, there has been a striking change. From the moment Brandi Chastain kicked the winning penalty shot in the 1999 Women’s World Cup to the 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Finals, women have taken the spotlight to show diversity, strength, personality, and beauty in sports.

Women’s sports include a dizzying combination of strategy and strength. Serena Williams’ first steps on the court redefined what a tennis player should look like and play like. She played with power, speed, finesse, and fashion. Michaela Schiffrin arguably skis better than anyone else ever. Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie, and Diana Taurasi ushered in a new level of basketball prowess.

This year’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament broke records with the highest viewership of NCAA women’s basketball (peaking at 12.6 million viewers) and was the highest streamed sporting event (any sport – women’s or men’s) to date on ESPN+. Why? Because unlike in the past, when there was one definitive great team and a handful of great players (looking at you, UConn and Tennessee), there are now multiple teams packed with spectacular starters who are driven, and bench players who stepped into the game ready to make a name for themselves. Of note, LSU’s Jasmine Carson’s smile, agility, and 3-pointers stole the show even when her teammates Aliyah Boston and Alexis Morris were unstoppable.

Additionally, individual NCAA female basketball player personalities shone brightly as they embraced their own style of play and showed swagger and sass on the court and in the media. Virginia Tech’s Georgia Amoore hit 24 3-pointers in the tournament. Iowa’s Caitlin Clark set new NCAA tournament records for most points scored (191), most assists (60), and most 3-pointers in a national championship (8). Clark also posted back-to-back 40-point games – something no other collegiate player, male or female, has done. Title-winning LSU’s Angel Reese recorded her 34th double-double of the season. And to top it off, these are quality student-athletes who are maintaining high grade-point averages while obviously having a great time on the court smashing records, talking smack, and drawing in fans.

If you want to know how spread out the talent in women’s NCAA basketball is, look no further than this year’s WNBA draft. Of the first 11 picks in the first round, only a few players were from teams that were in the Final Four. First-round picks came from South Carolina (3), Maryland (2), Villanova, Iowa State, UConn, Stanford, Indiana, and Tennessee. And of course, there’s the majority of players who have finished basketball and are going on to other careers in medicine, business, education, and almost any other field you can name.

Look across the sports: soccer, tennis, golf, basketball, lacrosse, softball….you’ll not only see talented, smart, athletic women, but you’ll see women with style and personality. Gone are the days of trying to act like a guy and dress conservatively if you wanted to be seen as “serious” about sports. That’s over. The days of individuality — plain or glitter — are in, and may they remain so from here on out. If you have the strength and ability, sports can provide a platform for your unique personality.

Up next, we look forward to the 2023 Women’s World Cup in July and August. Will we see Costa Rica’s Raquel Rodriguez Cedeno light up the world stage? Will the New Zealand team show respect to their opponents with a traditional Haka? What will USA’s Ashley Sanchez have up her sleeve that will bring the crowds to their feet? Will we see an unprecedented three-peat win for the defending USA champs? Can the Brazil team live up to the hype and expectations?

Most soccer/football fans can’t make it to the world stage to watch their favorite teams, but consider checking out your local collegiate squads. They are the breeding ground for these great international players and the matches are competitive, physical, exciting, and often free admission! (But, if you are in New Zealand for the tournament, make sure to take time and go black water rafting. You’ll thank me for it while you sing Glow Worm.)

This is only the beginning of women’s sports coming into their own. I can’t wait to see what surprises the next generation of female athletes bring to the field. I think we’re sure to see great physical feats and surprising strategy very soon on the pitch for the 2023 Women’s Soccer Championship. Stay tuned for more in this series on how Data Skrive helps spread the power of women’s sports through compelling and relevant sports content to be seen by fans when it matters most.

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