Sporting events are being canceled from left to right.
From professional sports to college to little kids, sports have been impacted significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems however that the effect the pandemic has had on women's sports is greater than it has had on men’s.
Across the pond, England’s women’s cricket team returned to action two and half months later than the men’s team. Additionally, at the top tier of football, the FA Women’s Super League returned for the start of the 2020-2021 campaign — after the controversial cancellation of the previous season — seven weeks after the men’s Premier League was allowed to restart its 2019-2020 competition. This is problematic for many reasons.
The inequality of this goes deeper than just cancellations and fewer games played. The women affected by this earned less money and had limited access to sports equipment than their male counterparts. This impacted their ability to train effectively and put some women in a tricky financial situation.
In the United States, the media has put significant attention on men’s sports being canceled. Everyone knows when an NFL game is canceled or postponed, but few people are aware when a significant NCAAW basketball game is canceled or postponed. For example, the UConn women’s basketball team had their 4th straight game canceled on January 5. This did not receive the same attention as male sports. Though this has become the norm for women’s sports, it is still quite impactful.
Hayes Anderson, a junior lacrosse player at Georgetown University, has noticed the impact the pandemic has had on her and her team. From being put in bubbles to having games canceled, Anderson has felt the effects of the pandemic.
“I think in regards to a larger scale other than Georgetown, there has definitely been differences between how rules have been enforced between women and men’s teams, such as in basketball,” Anderson said. “I do not think that our two teams in particular at Georgetown faced noticeable differences, though among different collegiate teams and other levels of sports there has definitely been noticeable differences.”
Women’s sports have also been disproportionately affected because of the preexisting pay gap in men's and women's sports.
"Salaries for female athletes are, on the whole, lower than men, and because in many cases their opportunities for major sponsorship deals are fewer, they are economically not as well-positioned to handle the sports world being put on pause," Sports Illustrated senior writer Jenny Vrentas said in her interview in SI's The Point After.
This will make it harder for women’s sports to pick up where they left off and female athletes will be impacted more significantly than men.
While Anderson did not notice any extreme differences in men's and women's sports at Georgetown, the overall injustices women’s sports are facing are affecting how women's sports will be able to bounce back from the pandemic.
Having an awareness of the impact COVID-19 is having on women’s sports and female athletes will bring more attention to their struggles and perhaps lead towards a possible change in these injustices.