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Episode 3: Women in Sports

Episode 3: Women in Sports


Hi again everybody. This Rick Burton from
Syracuse University, and this is our Massive Open Online Course. We’ve been talking about
the SUbject is Sports. And one on the topics that I don’t think
gets enough attention is the role that women play in sports
and the opportunities that we see coming in the future associated with women in sport. So if you haven’t
thought about it before I think this is going to be a great
class for you, and I think there’s a tendency, and it’s really almost a sexist
tendency, for most people to talk about male-based sports. They tend to be the
largest leagues, the English Premier League in England, with football and the National Football
League in the United States, or the National Basketball Association. But in reality, women in sports is a huge
concept and a great opportunity for not just advertisers and sponsors, but really for businesses that want to
associate with fifty percent of the world’s population.
So here’s a context point kinda as a jumping-off for us that I found really
interesting. This took place a couple years ago. I read about it in 2011, and it was that the IOC, the
International Olympic Committee, had actually approved women’s ski jumping to be added to the Sochi 2014 Winter
Olympics. Now depending on when you’re watching
this, but assuming that it’s sometime between now and Sochi in 2014, you know that those Winter Olympics were
gonna take place in the Black Sea region of Russia, and that
they’re gonna be probably, arguably, the most expensive Winter Olympics or Summer
Olympics that have ever been staged. A massive sporting event.
But here we were in 2011 and the IOC was only then announcing
that they were gonna add a category of sport– women’s ski
jumping– that was actually going to bring women into equality with men. And it made me
actually wanna go back and look at really what’s been happening with women’s
sports over the course of not just the last 100 years
but really the last three thousand years.
So, let’s go back in time, what I call, before the beginning.
Many of you all know that the ancient Olympic Games, which
were staged in Olympia, that’s in Greece, date back roughly, arguably, probably specifically, to 776 BC. So 800 years before the
modern era begins– let’s call it at 0– and back then in 776 BC,
women were not allowed into the stadium let alone to compete. We had
a very male-based society at that time, and women were not allowed to
participate in sports. Interestingly enough now, if you shoot
forward more than 2500 years to the birthplace of the modern Olympics
in 1896, women were still again not allowed to
compete in what we now call the modern Olympics. Now, no women in the ancient games, and no
women at the birth of the modern Olympics. But obviously as you know today, women in
sports is a massive part of the sports world, and a significant business opportunity
for everyone who’s involved with sport. We say significant because we shouldn’t
be thinking about just men as athletes and men as spectators, we
should be thinking about humans as athletes and humans as spectators,
and women are such a key part of our human experience. So, women in the
late 19th century, to give you a little bit a historical background,
were generally– and it may depend on what country you’re
in that you’re watching this from, but certainly in a lot of the Western
countries in the world– women were shielded from activities that
were thought to inhibit or jeopardize what many felt were a woman’s primary
function, which was to reproduce. Now some of you
right away may be offended that I might even be saying that, and I don’t wish to
get into the politics of your own specific country, or your beliefs. All I’m trying
to say is historically, women were not really allowed to participate
in a lot of sporting activities in a number of countries around the
world, because it was felt by people who may have had the most
influence that it could potentially inhibit a woman’s ability to bear children. Competitive sport was very much thought to
interfere with a woman’s reproductive system, and was therefore too dangerous for
widespread participation. However now as we go into the
late-1800s, around the late-1870s, one of the first examples we
see of women in professional sport were women race walkers. These were women
who could walk incredibly long distances and would do them more or less against
the clock, essentially proving that they could walk a particular distance in a set amount of time. And there were some
women who actually started to make some handsome sums of money by being
professional race walkers. In 1896, frenchmen Baron Pierre de Coubertin will actually launch the modern
Olympic Games, and the first games will be staged in Athens in 1896, and he’s gonna design a
sporting concept where women are not going to be allowed
to compete. This is kind of interesting because he was probably of a Victorian era
where everything was being focused on the male. The males were allowed to become part
of religion, women weren’t. Males were allowed to go to war,
women weren’t, in general. And men were allowed to participate
in sport, and women weren’t. However– and this is a really interesting
piece of history– for the staging of the men’s marathon in 1896, two female runners reportedly created
their own history by actually taking part in the marathon
in two different ways. A woman named Melpomene actually is believed to have run the entire
marathon course before the games took place, and another
woman, Stamata Revithi, ran the marathon to Athens course during, and really after, the official race. So let
me read to you a piece here. This will come up on the screen, it’s just easier for
me to kind of make sure that we get our historical accuracy right. …and that would be in 1984 in Los Angeles. So, coming back now to de Coubertin and the
creation of the modern Olympic Games, de Coubertin actually suffered a kind
of a family illness, so he wasn’t as involved with the
1900 games in Paris. And at those games, women were
now finally allowed to compete in two particular sports: tennis and golf,
although golf was classified as an unofficial demonstration sport. But here’s an
interesting piece of trivia that almost no one knows about.
And this is a really small piece. Britain’s Charlotte Cooper won the first
gold medal event in tennis. However, we have a German historian who’s
suggested that a woman named Countess de Portales actually crewed on the men’s yacht Lérina, and based on the time the event finished,
was technically the first woman ever to win a gold medal and to have it issued. And that was in
the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris. De Coubertin came back in 1904,
and actually was involved and, not surprisingly, because of his
beliefs about women in sport, women were again not allowed to
participate in the 1904 Olympics. But they started returning again in
1908, and by the year 2012, the London Games that just took place 104 years later, for
those who’ve you might be familiar with the American team, there were more female athletes entered
in the Olympic Games than there were men. American female athletes actually won
more medals in the 2012 London Olympics than their
US male counterparts. So, we know that much has been made about
de Coubertin holding women out of the Olympic Games, but I think it’s valuable for you to perhaps
understand where he was coming from. Again, you won’t agree with his
politics perhaps, but I think it’s important to know. You’ll see
a quote on the screen and it says, and these are de Coubertin’s words: Now this is de Coubertin writing in 1912, which for many of you,
you would realize, is only 101 years ago. So interesting that this is where we were not that long ago.
De Coubertin’s reasoning included– and this is from the same 1912 Olympic review– “Can one grant women access to all
Olympic competitions?” In de Coubertin’s mind, and I’m now away
from his quote, he didn’t think that it could be done. Of course we know that that’s just happened,
the very last sporting event, with the ski jumping. In my opinion, de Coubertin could not have
been more wrong. And of course we know that because women
now play every sport there is imaginable. They wrestle, they’re involved with auto
racing, and as we’ve talked, are involved with ski jumping. So let’s then talk about the use of
female athletes as heroes, because this is a huge part of really
what’s been going on. We know that a lot of people buy
products because they see other people like themselves buying it. And we know that women have been used as
athletic endorsers for a number of years. The first that we know of is
Babe Didrikson, who was a tennis player, a golfer, a basketball
player, and a track and field athlete, who in the late-1930s, actually signed
a number of deals and was the first woman ever featured on the
famed Wheaties cereal box. North American advertiser use of female
athletes has increased dramatically since 1972 with the creation of the federal omnibus
that’s known as Title IX. You may not be familiar with Title IX
depending on where you live or how old you are, but Title IX is a
federal act by the United States government that talks about if there is funding, there has to be
equal funding and equal opportunity for men and women in federally-supported activities.
Universities and schools at the American level, are actually areas where there needs to be equal
opportunity for women in sports. Therefore, since 1998, when America hosted
the FIFA Women’s World Cup and given that it was then 16,
sorry 26 years after the advent of Title IX,
we know that more and more female athletes have been
featured in advertising and have been really prominent as spokespeople. Soccer players Mia Hamm and Chamique
Holdsclaw– Chamique’s a basketball player– actually did advertising for Gatorade.
Soccer player Brandi Chastain worked for Power Bar. Stacy Dragila for Visa, Sheryl Swoopes, Dawn Staley, and Marion Jones
for Nike. Venus Williams for Reebok, and Anna Kournikova for Lycos,
Charles Schwab, and many others. Today athletes that you may be familiar
with could include auto racer Danika Patrick, whose done all
kinds of advertising for GoDaddy, frequently seen on the Superbowl.
Downhill skier Lindsay Vonn for Visa and Russian tennis stars like Maria
Sharapova, and even still Anna Kournikova, are highly evident in
how they are featured in advertising. One of the reasons for that, is that
effective sports marketing in a lot of cases, depends on creating a matchup between the image of the celebrity,
and the image for the product. And social adaptation theory, which I
won’t go into for this class but, has a discussion that actually implies
that information is processed in fundamentally the same way for purchase decisions that we make, that are
both high- or low- involvement information. Let me try and put some context on that. If I go
to buy a car, I may need to really think about a number of things that are involved
with the car. How fast it goes, the safety equipment that is involved
with the car, how quickly it can brake in an emergency, There are a lot of issues that may go into me
thinking about whether or not I wanna buy a particular type of car. A low-involvement situation, though, could
involve maybe me wanting to just buy a cold soda. I may not think about anything other
than, I’m thirsty and I’m gonna buy the soda right now to quench my thirst. In high- and low-
involvement situations, and on lot of occasions,
who also uses the product, may influence the way in which
I get to my decision. And therefore it’s not surprising that
we see more and more female athletes being used to feature products, because there are so
many women, and so many men, who are inspired by
these female athletes. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s MOOC, it’s
just been kind of a quick overview on women in sports, but I think it should give you some new
ways to think about how we see equality in sport and the opportunities
that may exist going forward. You know, in the segment that we
were just finishing, I was talking about women in sports but
particularly focused on women participating in sports.
A completely different place for us to think about women in sports is as
administrators or executives in the sports world. Now, in this moment I’m standing in the
Carmelo Anthony Center at Syracuse University which is down at our sport administration facilities, what’s
called our athletic department. And there are a number of women who work
in the athletic department at Syracuse University, and athletic departments
all over the country. And what I want to take the next few minutes
to talk about is the fact that increasingly in the sports industry, which for
so long has been dominated by men, there’s a real hue and cry to bring women into positions of authority, and positions of
responsibility, in our industry. And I’m all for it. And I say that not just as
the father of daughters but also as someone who believes that the more diversity
we see in the workplace, the better. So the fact that sport had traditionally been
dominated by men doesn’t make it right, and the opportunity to have women
serve as Chief Marketing Officers, or as commissioners of leagues, or to be in charge of sponsorship,
or to be in charge of operations, are really a wonderful opportunity for us to
explore in terms of how you think about, if you’re a female, the opportunities
that may exist out there for you. Now, not all countries are the same, and
it’s easy enough for me to say that America, because of Title IX, which has really put an
emphasis on gender equality, has made it possible for a lot of women
to consider careers in the sports industry. It’s not the same everywhere else in the
world. So what I’m talking about may not have yet come to your country, depending
on where you’re watching this from. But I can promise you this: going
forward in the future we will see more and more women as the heads of sport organizations. And they will be the
owners of teams, they will be the general managers, they will be
in charge of running everything. And I think that that’s great because
it allows us to see sport as an evolving entity that has opportunity for all. And in particular
for the women who are watching this, I want you to know that most
organizations right now– at least in the United States, but I think also in
Australia, and the United Kingdom, and a lot of parts of the world– are saying,
we wanna find qualified, talented women, and we want to give them an opportunity.
We want to bring them into our organization. Now what are they looking for in those
situations? Well it’s probably no different from what they’ve looked
for in the past from men. They’re looking for people that are
bright, articulate, intelligent, but they also want people who are
competitive, people who are honest, people who are really going to get after it. And they want people who know the
industry. So it’s never gonna be just enough to be a male or a female,
or to be black or white, or to be from Asia, you’re going to have
to be a little bit more than just who you were born. You’re gonna have to be
someone who actually brings a great deal of knowledge and enthusiasm
and commitment. Because the sports world is a
high-profile area and we have a joke here in the United
States that “NFL” stands for “not for long.” If you’re not able to actually bring
kind of that commitment to the game. And because of the high-profile nature of
sport, a lot of people sometimes think that it’s all fun and games. It’s a very cutthroat business and so for the
women who are watching this, who are thinking about going into the industry, it’s a huge time commitment, but I can
promise you this: the opportunities are gonna be there. And I sincerely hope that if you’re a
woman watching this you really consider the sport industry
is being a place where there’s a possible job for you in the future. I’m gonna end it here, but let me say thanks
for watching this segment. I’m Rick Burton, the David B. Falk Professor of Sport
Management at Syracuse University, and as always it’s been great kind of
being connected with you as part of this Massive Open Online Course. I look forward to seeing you in the
next segment, and we’ll talk to you then.

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