How the pandemic has affected women’s sports

Tara McGahan

There have always been clear barriers for women in sport compared to the men’s games, but the impacts of the global pandemic have exposed these issues further.

Women in sport have never had an easy ride and the appearance of the pandemic has been yet another pushback for women, and the difference between both men and women’s sports is more evident than ever.

A bias has always been given to males when it comes to sports. You only have to look at certain actions here in Ireland that favor male sporting events.

It isn’t too long ago since the women’s All-Ireland Final switched venues twice, a huge head wreck for players before a
massive game. Even then, due to the last-minute switch, live TV coverage was not available for the game.

Covid-19 has also continued to impact women’s sport around the world.

Recently, the National Women’s Hockey League decided to suspend their 2021 season. The league announced that its decision came as a result of new positive Covid-19 tests.

The 2021 season of the six-team league was set to finish up in February in the Isobel cup playoffs. The semi-finals and Isobel Cup Championships were set to be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.

Although the pandemic has caused a lack of uncertainty in games, this would’ve been the first time aside from the Olympics that women’s hockey was broadcast at a national level.

While an attempt is being made to broadcast the National Women’s Hockey League for the first time at the national level, a clear difference can be seen in the men’s game.

After an absence of 16 years, the men’s National Hockey League signed a seven-year rights agreement with ESPN that will begin with the 2021-22 season.

The agreement will see ESPN or ABC show 25 games and half of the playoffs each season. There will also be Seventy-five regular-season games each season streamed exclusively on ESPN and Hulu.

ESPN+ will also effectively become the N.H.L.’s out-of-market streaming package in the The United States and fans will be able to watch more than 1,000 games that are not televised in their area.

This is huge exposure for the National Hockey League and an agreement like this allows spectators to watch games no matter where they are, which is particularly beneficial given the Covid-19 restrictions.

Although attempts and improvements have been made in women’s sports over the years, the changes need to come quicker and more actions need to be taken to provide equality across the board in sports.

Tara McGahan

Image Credit: Irish Rugby