Nina Herceg -- "I believe that girls and women’s sports and athletics should be broadcasted more"

Nina Herceg, with Long Island Lady Islanders 

Nina Herceg, with Long Island Lady Islanders 

14 year-old hockey player, Nina Herceg, wrote a letter to NBC Sports asking that they provide more coverage to women's sports, making her our
Major League Girl of the Week

 

Mark Lazarus
Chairman for NBC Sports
NBC Sports Group 

Dear Mr. Lazarus: 

I am writing to you to address an issue that has existed for generations. This is the well-known issue of gender stereotyping, or more specifically, gender stereotyping in the sports industry. It’s obvious that it’s seen more being targeted on women’s athletics. I believe that girls and women’s sports and athletics should be broadcasted more often on sports networks, and that they should be appreciated more in the sports industry.

Even in the youth sports industry, girl’s sports organizations are thrown in the dust because “no one wants to watch women’s sports” tackling that biased opinion that men’s sports are more competitive than women’s.



It’s time to change that opinion and to bring a new generation of athletics into the mix and to break the stereotypes that hold a lot of people back. We are hoping that NBC Sports can help us with this problem and be the first to broadcast women’s sports like the NWHL (National Women’s Hockey League) the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League.) as well as many other women’s sports associations. In doing so, we can finally try to establish gender equality in the sports industry. 

The choice to ignore women’s sports has existed for decades now. It could be because no one wanted to actually start women’s pro sports teams until the mid 1990’s. Maybe it’s because they weren’t popular at first. One example of this could be the 2016 National Women’s Hockey league’s Winter Classic. According to Kate Hemming and Paul Wheeler, editors for he Stanley Cup of Chowder , the NHL (National Hockey League) and many other sports networks refused to broadcast the event,  claiming that “they didn’t have the facilities in place to broadcast any kind of live coverage of the women’s game - despite previously showing live practices from the NHL teams in the hours before and broadcasting the alumni [Women’s All Star] game live and with the full broadcast treatment immediately afterward.”

This is wrapped around the continuous and tiring trope that women’s sports is not praised because they are claimed to be less competitive, or that women’s sports aren’t popular, or that they have less strength than men. This stereotype was lso seen when the U.S Women’s Soccer team won the 2016 world cup. But they were actually payed less for their success than their male counterparts (The U.S Men’s soccer team) who didn’t even medal in their world cup, even though the women’s team has joined to win four gold olympic medals and a world cup title. (As a matter of fact the same pay gap is also happening to the U.S women’s national hockey team as well!)

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Yes, the championship game had over 23 million viewers, (According to he Atlantic) and yes, they were broadcasted on several different sports networks. But only would ome viewers care to watch the championships for women’s sports, and could care less about their overall season. Isn’t it just unfair that there are only very few women’s pro leagues across the nation, while we have the NHL, the NFL, the NBA, MLB and so on, and that doesn’t even cover their olympic and minor league teams as well? 

Maybe if these women spent more time on the television screens at home, more teams could’ve been funded and started sooner. 

This biased opinion is even worse for youth sports. We have over 36 million kids participating in youth sports worldwide. However, high schools today provide 3.2 million fewer chances for girls to play sports. But it doesn’t start at high school sports. Girls are constantly being turned down because they don’t have the same athletic abilities as boys. But actually, a recent study from Indiana University found “no gender difference in the performance of six to eight-year-olds and a negligible difference between 11 and 12-year-old boys and girls. Around puberty from ages 13 to 16 — the accelerated growth and muscle development of many boys meant they began to surpass the performance of female counterparts.” Girls still have the same athletic ability as boys; it’s just that girls start to play with other girls once they reach a certain age. But the competitiveness is just as intense as it is for boys. It’s only that some are less likely to see that. How does this tie into broadcasting women’s sports? If a young girl sees that the outside world would not care to watch women’s sports, it’s most likely to discourage them to know that their passion is not worth working hard for. Now people can be entitled to their own opinion; they can say that men’s sports has existed longer than women’s sports. The NWHL is just finishing up their second season, while the NHL is on their 100th. 

When it comes to gender stereotypes in sports, many think that it’s just “scientifically proven that men are stronger than women.” In some cases, yes. But not all. And it still doesn’t mean that sports networks like ESPN, MSG or NHL network just can’t broadcast or support these associations and teams, because then they can become something better. 

In a recent school project in my English class, my student group was assigned to create a Public Service announcement. My group decided to tackle on the general idea of stereotyping and labeling. In our PSA, we asked some of our classmates to share any stories they might have about a time they have been doubted because of stereotypes. Our PSA goes beyond the idea of just gender stereotypes, and more into the idea of how stereotyping has shaped society. 

Being a girl who plays and loves the sport of ice hockey, I enjoy watching NBC sports and broadcasted hockey games, and I think NBC sports is a wonderful association and network,

but I think it has the potential to become better if we include women’s sports to inspire young girls across the country that they can break stereotypes and follow their dreams.

It would definitely make NBC sports more popular and earn more money. I invite you to view our PSA and use it in any way to show how stereotyping has affected our younger generation today.

Thank you for your support as we try to change the face of athletics for future generations to come. 

Sincerely, 
Nina Herceg

Anya Alvarez