ESPN recently released its World Fame 100, which showcases the most famous athletes the world has to offer. It holds players from various different sports and contains sportspeople from dozens of countries. At first glance, it looks to contain diversity that represents the global, multifaceted, culture that sports have created.
And yet, it is sorely lacking in one key category: women.
Out of the 100 athletes on the list, only twelve are female. Only Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, and Saina Nehwal are in the top fifty. Serena is the only woman above twenty.
It is known that a massive gap lurks between men’s and women’s sports, but the main division is in the amount of media coverage they receive. A Forbes article from March 2018 revealed some chilling facts: 90% of sports editors are male; only about 10% of sports coverage is even created by women. Women’s athletics receive only 4% of all sports coverage — media outlets are more likely to write about animals than they are women.
However, in December, Adidas began a campaign called “She Breaks Barriers”, designed to bring more light to this issue of media representation. In addition to a film, Adidas has partnered with various others to fulfill its promise. One is the Global Sport Institute, which works to identify obstacles toward women’s achievement in sports and create a solution. Adidas has also begun to sponsor the Women’s National Football Conference, partner with Jen Welter to host girls’ flag football camps nationwide, and join with Girls on the Run.
Furthermore, Adidas will be broadcasting women’s high school volleyball and soccer teams across the United States on their twitter account, @3stripelive, beginning in April 2019.
More recently, Adidas published a new series of videos depicting various women throughout the sports industry. Their one minute film, entitled “She Breaks Barriers. More Visibility. Bigger Dreams.” sums up their campaign, stating that, “If girls don’t see women in sport, they won’t stay in the sport. They won’t learn that we can call the shots, that we are stronger together.”
An athlete featured in one of the films is Layshia Clarendon, a gay, black, gender-nonconforming WNBA player for the Connecticut Sun. She highlights the importance of Adidas’s campaign, saying that “I want to be the kind of person I wanted to see on TV when I was younger… I wish I could have looked up an interview or Youtube and been like, ‘Wow! There’s a gay black woman who’s gender non-conforming, a Christian!’”
Adidas is one of the few corporations in today’s world that is highlighting the serious problems of sexism in the sports industry. What makes “She Breaks Barriers” especially potent is the effort that Adidas makes to put women in the centre of the campaign, and the attempts that they are making behind the scenes as well.
Clarendon sums up the goal best: “There hasn’t been representation like that…. Deal with it, or don’t, but it’s who I am.”
Featured Image via Adidas