Ash Barty’s Victorious Return to Tennis, The Fan Project, & ECU Restores Women’s Sports Teams Under Threat of Lawsuit
Ash Barty’s Return to Tennis and Victory
By Kate Kissell
Coming back from a long tennis hiatus, Ash Barty amazed the world by winning the first grand slam match she played in a year. By staying at home throughout the pandemic to avoid COVID-19 exposure, she was able to escape many of the quarantines that other athletes faced.
Beaty commented on her return to the game saying, “I missed tennis every single day.” She continued “the competitor in me missed what this is all about, missed the last hour before you come out on court. The bonus particularly for us players in the next few weeks is we’ve got crowds, we’ve got people to enjoy it with us and that’s really, really special.”
An Australian Open title is more than possible for a 24 year old player, as she impressingly won the 2019 French Open and had a 6-0, 6-0 result against the tough player, Danka Kovinic. To achieve the goal of the Australian Open, Barty will have to face Daria Gavrilova next, who recently beat Sara the spaniard Sorribes Tormo in straight sets.
In February 2020, in Qatar, Beaty beat Garbiñe Muguruza in the Yarra Valley Classic, and now 12 months later in the Rod Laver Arena she impressingly was able to improve her form further. Her average speed for her serve was 9km faster than last year’s tournament and her backhand significantly cleaner and more powerful.
After 11 minutes Kovinic appeared worried, winning 0 of the 16 points to date and being four games up. Barty’s seemed unstoppable with her two unforced errors to Kovinics 14 and by the end of the second stanza she was the clear leader with only 5 errors compared to Kovinic’s 28 errors overall.
Marketing Firm is Working to Increase Investment and Media Coverage of Women’s Sports
By Zac Cornell
It is widely acknowledged that there is less media coverage of women’s sports and less money put towards promotion and marketing for women’s leagues. The market intelligence firm Sports Innovation Lab wants to change that. The firm believes that a tremendous amount of interest in women’s sports exists and has in turn launched “The Fan Project” to increase investment in and media coverage of women’s sports. The project, which is supported by major leagues including the WNBA, NWSL, WWE, LPGA, UFC, as well as organizations Positive Coaching Alliance and Goal 5, will research and compile statistics and data about fans of women’s sports to prove market value and help illustrate to brands and media why supporting women’s sports would be a smart business investment.
Sports Innovation Lab CEO and 4X Olympic Medalist Angela Ruggiero explained, “the same statistics around the high engagement and tremendous interest but lack of coverage and lagging investment in women’s sports continue to permeate the industry with zero impact.” She continued, “With The Fan Project we’ll be able to finally give those responsible for investing in broadcast rights and sponsorship of women’s sports data they simply can’t ignore.”
In 2019 Australia saw interest in women’s sports rise almost 50% as a result of increased TV coverage of women’s sports. The increased exposure of top female athletes also spurred more young girls to participate in sports. Clearly, more money and promotion of women’s sports has a powerful and positive impact on the next generation of female athletes.
In order for The Fan Project to evaluate the value of women’s sports, they need sports fans to download and share their social media archives which will reveal what sports the fans are interested in, what they watch, and what they buy. The data will be kept anonymous, with personal details automatically scrubbed when people upload their data by Sports Innovation Lab’s technology. The more fans who participate, the more accurate and successful the report on the business potential for investing in women’s sports. The project hopes to be able to publish a report by this summer.
Stephanie McMahon, WWE Chief Brand Officer told Beyond Sport, “In 2015 our audience started a movement on social media using #GiveDivasAChance that trended worldwide for three days and hastened what WWE now calls the Women’s Evolution, creating equal opportunity for our female Superstars. The numbers and the sentiment from fans show there is a clear market for women’s sports, and it is up to brands, networks, and media to invest and help move the industry forward.” You can participate in The Fan Project by clicking here: https://thefanproject.co/
By Ana Wilmer
East Carolina University, located in Greenville, North Carolina, had announced its decision to restore two of the University’s women’s teams that were cut last spring due to budget problems as well as issues that arose as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; The University is willing to pay more than $189,000 in order to avoid a gender discrimination lawsuit. Athletes at East Carolina threatened a lawsuit just weeks before the school made this announcement. Not only is the University restoring the women’s swimming, diving, and women’s tennis teams, but it is also directing this large sum of money toward an attorney’s office to avoid the litigation.
On December 6, according to The Daily Reflector of Greenville, after the East Carolina University received an ultimatum from attorney Arthur H.Bryant of a class action lawsuit in federal court against the University, this East Carolina school panicked and decided to hold multiple closed-session board of trustees meetings as a result. Bryant, who represents the athletes of the eliminated teams, announced that the settlement agreement will “prevent the need for class action.” Meanwhile, Jon Gilbert who works as ECU’s Athletics Director, stated himself that the school was expecting to save roughly $2.6 million from the elimination of the two women’s teams, and he claimed that reinstating them will in fact leave the department with only $1.2 million in savings. However, Gilbert shared that despite this information, ECU currently has no plans to make any further additions or cuts to any other sports teams in the near future.