Published on Elle Beaver – March 20, 2014
Close to 13 million Canadians tuned in to watch the women’s hockey gold medal game at last month’s Olympics, with a peak of 6.37 million viewers in the dying minutes when Canada mounted their incredible comeback against the U.S.
During the previous summer games in London, 3.8 million watched the semi-final soccer match between the same two nations.
So please, say again that women’s sports are boring. Or that the players aren’t as athletic or skilled. Or the games aren’t competitive.
The numbers don’t lie. It has been a slow progression, but Canadians are showing that such criticisms are outdated, and more to the point, founded in thin air.
With the Canadian Interuniversity Sport winter championship season in full swing, Rogers has reached out to provide Canada’s top student athletes a national stage. Two weeks ago, the men’s basketball championship was broadcast on Sportsnet, while the semi-finals were on Sportsnet360. This past weekend, the women’s basketball tournament had two semis and one final game on SN360, while the women’s hockey gold medal game was also broadcast on SN360.
Of course, the fact that Rogers’ SportsnetU programming is showing any winter championships is progress in and of itself, as broadcasting anything aside OUA football games of the week and national football playoffs was generally unheard of before this year.
Taking on a new direction, however, Sportsnet broadcasted the semi-finals and title games of the men’s and women’s basketball and men’s hockey championships, as well as the final game of the women’s hockey championship. It’s high time that our amateur student athletes get a greater national spotlight, but in a hockey crazy market that broadcasts the Tier II Junior “A” championship tournament across the country, the fact that the university championship for basketball is shown cannot be understated in itself.
When you add in the lack of media coverage for women’s professional sports (like the CWHL and WNBA), the fact that our female university stars can shine on such a stage is even more important.