Why Women’s Football Never Became As Popular as Men’s

ROTHERHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 11: (L-R) Alex Greenwood of England Women, Steph Houghton of England Women, Nikita Parris of England Women, Jordan Nobbs of England Women during the International Friendly Women match between England v Sweden at the Aesseal New York Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Rotherham United Kingdom (Photo by Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates/Getty Images)

The world of professional sports is – mostly – dominated by men. Just take a look at pretty much everything, from boxing to racing, any of America’s major sports leagues, and even football. Most of these sports seem like an exclusive gentlemen’s clubs. Even though there are female versions of many of them, including women’s football that has its own FIFA Women’s World Cup (organized the year after the ‘real’ World Cup), they don’t enjoy the same popularity – and commercial success – than their male-dominated counterparts. Why the divide between sports and their fans?

Why Women’s Football Never Became As Popular as Men’s

Aggression Sells

One of the reasons for women’s sports being less popular than men’s is the lack of aggression. Men, including male professional athletes, seem to have a belligerent spirit encoded in their genome that leads to a fierce, aggressive stance in the playfield. Which, considering that many sports were invented to mimic battlefield behaviour, is somewhat understandable.

And aggression seems to sell well. Men’s sports leagues, ranging from the NFL to the Premier League and beyond, are the most commercially successful ones, generating billions in revenues each year, no matter what currency you count them in.

Tradition

Back when the first Olympic games were organized – not the modern-day ones but the ancient version – they were, in part, a means of proving the Greek city-states’ supremacy without all the bloodshed of a full-on war. Most of the competitions were, in one way or another, related to fighting – wrestling, chariot races, running, javelin and disc throwing are all peaceful versions of the pretty lethal practices of the Greek warriors. And this tradition lived on for centuries after the first Olympic games, shutting out women from the world of sports entirely – the first Olympic games to feature female participants was the 1900 Games in Paris.

This tradition lived on for ages, with many sports lacking a female version even today – and even when they do get the chance to compete, their participation gets little to no publicity. Did you know, for example, that there were five female drivers competing in Formula One, with the latest being Giovanna Amati who competed in three Grand Prix races in 1992?

It’s About the Money

Last but not least, let us mention a fact that doesn’t make the lack of support for women’s sports a fair decision but an economically sound one: men’s sports make far more money. As we all know, sports is a big business – and sponsors put their money in places where they know they can make it multiply. There are enough companies endorsing female athletes in fields like tennis, athletics, track and field, and such – but they won’t invest too much in sports that lack the necessary following for them to consider them worthy. It’s a vicious circle that women’s sports can’t really break out of right now.

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