The book ends at the end of 2022, a landmark year for women’s sport, filled with triumphs and turmoil.
We’ll always remember the Las Vegas Aces, Portland Thorns, and South Carolina Hoops and other champions’ title fights, just as we’ll never forget the NWSL abuse report and Brittney Griner in Russian detention The response was the same.
However, as 2023 approaches, just women’s sports Look ahead as our writers and editors make New Year’s resolutions for women’s sports.
Healing and Progress
Women’s sport has given us plenty to celebrate in 2022, but hanging over all the small victories is a resounding heaviness.
The NWSL is reckoning with years of systemic abuse and cover-ups as multiple investigations reveal a power imbalance that allowed coaches to sexually and emotionally harass players. Meanwhile, the WNBA is keeping Brittney Greener on top through the 2022 season after she was wrongfully detained in Russia on drug charges. Both cases have been addressed in recent months, with the release of two detailed reports on NWSL abuse and Griner’s return home via prisoner swap. The NWSL has plans in place to support its players and fix systems that lead to abuse, and Griner said she intends to play for the Mercury in 2023.
The league is moving in a positive direction as we head into the new year, but that doesn’t mean the next steps will be easy. The players will deal with their trauma, the league will be held accountable for their decisions, and may we all continue to respect their humanity as much as they do on and off the field. — Hannah Witim
The women’s movement took a big step forward last year, both from a product and business standpoint. The player pool and the game itself were better than ever, and the results showed in record attendance and ratings. NWSL expansion clubs Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC are living proof that a good investment in women’s sport pays off on and off the field. The NWSL plans to add two more teams through 2024. We are ready for more.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert recently pushed back the timeline for league expansion, expecting one team to join the league in 2025 instead of a maximum of two in 2024. Expansion has never been more urgent in the WNBA, as strict salary caps continue to limit roster size and the preseason becomes synonymous with a revolving door of draft picks and seasoned veterans. As Engelbert mentioned, and what we’ve seen this year in Angel City and San Diego, it takes due diligence to get expansion right. Hopefully the WNBA fixes this before wasting any more good talent. — hardware
More annoyances — and a chance to watch them
The 2022 NCAA basketball tournament proved to be a distraction, as No. 10 Creighton’s Lauren Jansen hit a 3-pointer to help her team beat No. 2 in the second round. iowa. In 2023, let’s keep our fingers crossed for an even crazier March Madness and regular season. Unranked Michigan ended 2022 by toppling previously undefeated No. 4 Indiana, which could bode well for a chaotic 2023.
Yet while women’s college basketball is more equal than ever, a lack of TV time may prevent us from enjoying it. Some top 25 games are already airing on local channels, apps or shoddy online streamers instead of the prime time they deserve. By 2023, I want women’s college basketball to get the attention it deserves on national television. — Eden Rice
women’s sports on tv
Women’s sports broadcast issues aren’t limited to college basketball.
The world of sports is going through an interesting moment in its relationship with television. Some broadcasters have secured alliance rights to support streaming catalogs, while others have worked to spread assets across all platforms, from flagship channels to exclusive social media streams. As the landscape continues to change, it’s important that women’s sport doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
The NWSL’s current deal with CBS expires in 2023, so it will have an opportunity to negotiate a new contract that reflects rising viewership and the potential of women’s sports over the next decade. Whether the league is renewing mixed games on the CBS platform or going through a bidding war to find a better partner, strong TV deals lead to big investments. The next step is bigger and better production standards, making it easier for fans to enjoy games and showcase obvious talent on the pitch. — Claire Watkins
When discussing U.S. women’s soccer, we often refer to “the moment of 2019,” as the USWNT’s World Cup win in France ushered in a new era of popularity for the sport in the United States. NWSL attendance rose as new football fans became addicted to watching their favorite players each week, and the momentum continued over the next four years.
The 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand may not have quite the same impact, as time zones limit accessibility for casual viewers in the Western Hemisphere. Still, each year’s championship is a new opportunity to grow the sport.
With the tournament expanded to 32 teams, the 2023 moment could – and should – be further away than the US’s debut country, with more equal top teams and growing support for women’s football around the world, it should be. Creating the most competitive World Cup we’ve ever seen, with new opportunities to develop a loyal female football fan base. The next step, then, will be to turn our energies towards the domestic club game, continuing to forge a new cornerstone of the global game. — continuous wave