It is hardly a secret to say that, when it comes to sports in the news media, a disproportionate amount of attention is given to the men’s half. For reasons historical, cultural and societal, men and boys have always been more pressed into sports, and celebrated for their achievements when they did; while women and girls, not so much.
There are signs that trend is changing today, however. And hoping to help those changes along is Kitchener resident Jessa Braun, founder of She Scores, an online news website dedicated to telling the stories of women in sports.
“Growing up as a female athlete, I was always questioning in the back of my mind, ‘how come I never got the opportunity to watch my female athlete role models on TV?’” says Braun. “And the guys in my class all had that opportunity to go home and watch their favorite NHL players on T.V. that night.
“I think that just subconsciously bothered me growing up, that I never really had those role models in the media to look up to.”
Those questions stayed with Braun, unasked and unanswered, throughout her childhood, and it was not until she reached university that they at last came to the fore.
Studying at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford campus, Braun became the sports editor for the school’s newspaper, the Sputnik. It was there, she says, she realized both some of the problems facing women in sports, and some of the solutions as well.
“Just being in the sports journalism field made me realize – and really opened my eyes to – just how ignored women’s sports are. And it’s frustrating because there are professional women’s leagues happening all over North America, but nobody really pays attention or talks about them in the media,” she says.
As the paper’s editor, Braun had the opportunity to present those often neglected stories to the tight-knit campus community. But she realized that to really give those athletes the attention they deserved, and raise the awareness of their accomplishments, she would need to reach a wider audience.
The result of that realization was She Scores, which Braun founded in December of 2017.
The organization has been growing steadily these past few months, with a team of about six volunteers currently bringing the latest and greatest in women’s sports around the world. The website itself regularly publishes articles across a variety of different sports (www.shescores.ca), while their social media carries weekly update videos, keeping viewers abreast of the most important sporting events around the world.
“The main goal is to shed more of a light on female athletes and women’s sports leagues,” says Braun. “[And] the main way to do that is to just give them more media attention.”
There is still a long way to go before women achieve that kind parity with their male counterparts. Consider that everyone has heard of a Gretzky or a Beckham or a Ruth or a Bolt, while, by the numbers, men’s sports consistently draw the larger crowds, gain the greater recognition, and earn the superior endorsements (even right here in Waterloo Region). Forbes 2018 list of the top 100 highest paid athletes, for instance, had not a single woman.
“I think it’s a bit of a cycle,” she says. “Like, the fans need to create that demand for media, but also the media needs to provide that information to get that fan base started, because fans aren’t going to go out of their way to go looking for the information that’s not just easily presented to them.”
Anyone hoping to get their latest sports fix can head over to www.shescores.ca for a look. She Scores, a not-for-profit, will also be hosting a Sports Yard Sale on July 28 and 29 to fundraise for the website. The fundraiser is being held at 4 Brembel St., Kitchener, and runs both days from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.