AFTER THE WHISTLE | SteamboatToday.com

AFTER THE WHISTLE

Broadening horizons

— I left work on Thursday afternoon knowing that in just a few hours my wife would give birth to our second child.

I must admit that I was more than a little nervous my wife was about to give birth to our daughter and we were still searching for a name.

The good news is that my daughter will be born into an age where opportunities for women are constantly expanding and improving.

A few years ago, at least in the world of sports, we needed laws just to make sure that women were given just as many opportunities as men at the high school and college levels. But the days when women were expected to go to home economics classes instead of gym are quickly fading.

Today, innovators in the world of sports are starting to see women’s sports as an opportunity to broaden our horizons and big companies are starting to offer lucrative sponsorships to female athletes. There are even a few entrepreneurs out there hoping that women’s basketball, women’s soccer and even women’s football will someday be big money makers.

Top female tennis players and golfers are already starting to cash in, and in some rare cases are making almost as much as their male counterparts. However, the sports world still has work to do.

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Even in relatively new popular sports like mountain biking, female athletes are paid less than the men who race the same course. This was the case with the

Mercury Tour a few years ago, as I listened to the top female riders quietly complain about receiving smaller checks than their male counterparts. Don’t get me wrong, this race was not the exception to what women face, but more likely an example of the challenges women athletes face in any professional sporting endeavor.

I’m sure that in time the elite women athletes in our county will be paid more, but in the male dominated world of sports change comes painfully slow.

However, I also have to applaud this new breed of businessmen and businesswomen who are willing to invest in women’s sports and gamble that they will someday turn a profit. The XFL proved that it’s hard to make money with new sporting ventures whether it involves men or women.

The fact is whether the new leagues succeed or fail, this new breed of investors is sending a message to young women around the world that they should compete in athletics. Young women should be able to compete and they should be able to look forward to profiting from it someday that is if they are good enough to make the cut. These new companies are also saying that women’s athletics are just as entertaining as their male counterparts and maybe, just maybe, a new breed of sports fans will want to invest in a ticket to watch it.

So, I sit here in the hours just before my daughter enters the world, nervously contemplating a name. It’s comforting to know that I can dream of the day she might take to the court to play basketball, hit the gridiron to play football or possibly reign as the next Mia Hamm if she so chooses.