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Saint Leo 360 Podcast

Episode 35: A Roundtable on Women in Sports

Posted by Greg Lindberg on May 11, 2021
Episode 35: A Roundtable on Women in Sports

Download Episode 35 Transcript

Speaker 1:
Saint Leo 360: a 360 degree overview of the Saint Leo University community.

Greg Lindberg:
Hi there, and welcome to another edition of the Saint Leo 360 podcast. My name is Greg Lindberg. On this episode of the podcast we are featuring a recording from a recent virtual event that we held here in Saint Leo, and this was on the topic of women in sports, and I think you'll find this to be a very thought provoking, very interesting discussion here. I should mention that this event was held in recognition of National Women's History month, in addition to the Recharge with Reading initiative going on here at Saint Leo University. This was a collaboration between academic affairs, athletics, as well as the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library, here at Saint Leo.

Greg Lindberg:
So I'd like to turn it over to Barbara Wilson, who is the Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine here at Saint Leo University. Barbara?

Barbara Wilson:
All right. So we're going to get started. We're doing a presentation about women in sport for National Women's History month, and have with us Caitlin Hansen who is our women's lacrosse coach, and Emma Crafton, who plays on our women's lacrosse team and has a great lacrosse background, and then Dene Williamson who is the Associate Professor for Sports Business. So, I am going to let these guys introduce themselves, and I was going to start out with Emma. Go ahead Emma.

Emma Crafton:
Hi. I'm senior goalkeeper and captain on the Saint Leo lacrosse team. I've been playing lacrosse since I was eight, and I'm studying History with a minor in Criminal Justice here at Saint Leo.

Barbara Wilson:
Awesome. Caitlin?

Caitlin Hansen:
Sure, thanks Barb. My name is Caitlin Hansen, I'm the head women's lacrosse coach here at Saint Leo. This is my fourth season here. Prior to moving down to Florida I was a head coach for four years at a division three school in Providence, Rhode Island called Johnson Wales University. Before that I was an assistant for three seasons where I played, and that was at Bryant University which is also in Rhode Island, and before I went to college I grew up playing multiple sports in New Jersey. But definitely happy to be on this tonight, so thanks for having us.

Barbara Wilson:
All right, thanks. And Dene?

Dr. Dene Williamson:
Hi guys. My name's Dene Williamson, can you hear me okay?

Barbara Wilson:
Yep.

Dr. Dene Williamson:
Good. I'm Associate Professor here at Saint Leo. My career started at the University of Miami when I moved to Florida to get my Master's Degree, and I worked in the athletic department there and then proceeded to work at the United States Tennis Association for a few years. Eventually I landed back in Florida after teaching at the University of Missouri and starting their Sport by New Management program. So, I have had a well rounded career.

Caitlin Hansen:
So, I am going to talk a little bit about the 1999 Women's World Cup, and the reason that I picked this is I'm totally a product of the Women's World Cup run in '99 and everything that led up to it and followed. It was the summer before I started eighth grade in 1999, and so this was a big, pivotal time for me and I don't think that I would be where I am right now as a coach, or certainly not had an athletic career that I had, had it not been for this. So I'm going to give a little back story on that, and talk about some of the legacy that this particular event, and the women that played in it, have left for us.

Caitlin Hansen:
But I'll start with how it all started. Obviously Title IX was passed in 1972, so a lot of the women who were part of this event were the kind of beneficiaries of that law, because the first national team was started in '85, and definitely your typical thrown together group. Most of them were wearing hand-me-down uniforms from the men's team that they're trying to sow together and make fit before the first match.

Caitlin Hansen:
They didn't do so well initially, and then U.S. Soccer made a big investment and hired Anson Dorrance who was, and still is, the head coach of University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Then this group went on to compete in the first ever World Cup, that was in 1991, and they were able to win that and a large amount of the players in that '91 World Cup were kind of the veteran players in '99, but they were teenagers at the time in '91 who had grown up... yes, they were competing on boy's teams, and yes, they were still facing a lot of adversity, but they had the opportunities. They had the opportunities that the people before them didn't really have, because they were born right around the time that Title IX passed.

Caitlin Hansen:
Coming up through prior to... so they had the World Cup in '91. We competed again in '95, we did not win in '95 we finished third, but the big momentum shift for I think women's sports in general was that we hosted the Olympics in 1996. That was in Georgia, and this photo here of the team is with their Olympic gold medals. We won gold in '96, and that really started some momentum, the big thing being that the games were on... Well, they weren't completely televised, all 90 minutes. They were definitely cut up, but I definitely remember watching them, and the big reason why was they were in normal time slots. It wasn't like the Olympic games you watch where they're starting at one in the morning, or they're starting at one in the afternoon and everybody's in school. It was super helpful that it was in a normal time slot and that we won.

Caitlin Hansen:
That kind of spurred some momentum leading up to, okay, where are we going to host the 1999 World Cup, and as you can see in this newspaper clipping, that was about it. That was the amount of attention that we got, that we were hosting in '99. It wasn't a front page headline it was a side column, and if you actually read the text it wasn't super enthusiastic it was kind of, well we're hosting because nobody else is. I do remember I actually had a scrapbook of all the different newspaper articles that came up during this time, and most of them were centered around the fact of, well, what if we host this World Cup and nobody comes to it. That was the big fear. Our men's soccer has not performed traditionally well on the World Stage, and we had the momentum from '96, but we weren't sure if it would actually translate into fans in the stand in '99.

Caitlin Hansen:
So, they went to a really grass-roots marketing campaign, and they made the commitment that we're going to make it work and we're going to host this event in big venues. We're not going to use college stadiums, like they had originally planned, they were going to use big venues like Giants Stadium, Foxborough, what's now Gillete Stadium. They were going to play in Chicago, they were going to play in Washington D.C. and the final was going to be held in the Rose Bowl.

Caitlin Hansen:
That was a really big commitment, but to make that happen, they needed some help along the way. And, fortunately, people like Billie Jean King really stepped up. The first picture you see is Julie Foudy in the black shirt, who was one of the Team USA captains at the time, and she became good friends with Billie Jean King because there was a lot of external forces they had to deal with, like legal, things that had never been an issue before because they had just been playing soccer, and now they were trying to make something of this and create something with it. She, Billie Jean King, was a huge force for them imparting her wisdom from having blazed her own trail, especially by herself, earlier in women's tennis. So, she was a big component for what they should be doing behind the scenes, and one of the things was getting out there and talking to people.

Caitlin Hansen:
I was fortunate enough that, at the age that I was, I was able to go to their camps. They were so accessible. You could watch their practices. Obviously times are very strange now, but how many professional teams are you able to just sit there and sit on the field and watch them compete? That's not something you'd be able to do today, but fortunately in the late '90s that was something you could do. And they stayed after, and they signed autographs, and they really did a great job of marketing themselves as a family event.

Caitlin Hansen:
They decided they were going to package the tickets. Every game was going to be a double-header. So if you went to one game it was a true day experience, you got to see two games. I was at the opening game at Giants Stadium growing up in New Jersey. I went with my dad and we watched two games, and it was awesome. The US won and at the time they had filled this stadium with 70,000 people which was the most people, at the time, that had watched a women's sporting event. That number was later shattered with the final, but that campaign, that getting out there and just being ambassadors for the sport really started to gain some traction.

Caitlin Hansen:
Then it got bigger traction when sponsors like Gatorade, McDonalds, Coke, Dunkin' Donuts, they started featuring the players. And the ultimate advertisement, that I still remember watching the whole thing, was when Nike decided to do a "Anything you can do I can do better" commercial with Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm. That really put them on a national level, and they were comparing who was, at the time, the greatest goal scorer in soccer history, male or female, to the greatest basketball player in history at the time. It was a really cool boost, and it definitely made people want to know what was going on and decide to go to these games, and they bused in loads of soccer teams, huge soccer teams, male and female to go watch these games.

Caitlin Hansen:
So, it turned out to be an awesome event, because it ended, well one, with a US victory, but it also ended in the Rose Bowl with over 90,000 people in the stands, and over four million people were watching it live. It was July 11th, I still remember it, and I was definitely somebody who was watching that game live. It went into overtime, and then it went into penalty kicks, and then what's probably the most remembered and certainly iconic image from the day, Brandi Chastain, who's the image you see on the right of the screen, ripped off her shirt in celebration.

Caitlin Hansen:
That was on the cover of basically every magazine, because it was an awesome image and it was one of victory. I think that it was one of relief too, because all of these women understood that if they didn't win it would have been for nothing. There was the added pressure of, okay, well we have to get fans here, which is enough pressure and enough outside work, but then they also had to win it and they had to play. And on this particular day, it was over 100 degrees, and not only did they play for 90 minutes, they then played the full amount of overtime, and had to shoot the penalty kick.

Caitlin Hansen:
So, I don't think it could have been more dramatic, but it definitely made a lasting impression, and the effects of that, we still see them today. Our women's national team kind of had a slump for a little bit and they weren't able to win gold for a while, from 1999 to 2015, when they won again, there was a long drought. We won some Olympic gold medals in there, but the World Cup is kind of the highest thing there is in women's soccer in general. We won in 2015 and we won again in 2019, and a large reason that we were able to stay on top is because post 1999 we started the first women's professional league in the USA.

Caitlin Hansen:
It was called the WUSA. It folded after three seasons, but it gave people an opportunity to understand how a league would work, and to have a opportunity to be professional athletes. I think it influenced other leagues like the WNBA and certainly US Hockey, and now the NWSL is kind of the main league, and that's been around for a significant amount of time with branches in various parts of the US, and international players come to the US to play in it. It's keeping soccer alive, and it's allowing players an opportunity to train year round.

Caitlin Hansen:
But the ultimate, I think, culmination, the coolest thing to me as a coach and someone who's super invested in women's soccer, is a large amount of women decided that they were going to invest in a club called Angels FC, which is a new club that will debut in 2022 in the NWSL. And, the whole leadership board, the whole ownership, are women. Serena Williams, Serena Williams' daughter, Eva Longoria, Natalie Portman, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, some of the big names from the '99 team, they're all really giving back to the sport to continue what they started, which was making sure there was a future for female athletes in the United States in this sport.

Caitlin Hansen:
And so, for me, I think this is just the absolute coolest thing, and I think it's a great illustration of this full circle moment that all really started in 1999. It had been years in the making, and I think when it finally debuts in 2022, it will probably be the start of more things like that to come. I think if we're talking about women in sports and women's history, for me there's no more impactful moment in women in sports, and certainly the history here is really rich, so I was excited to get a chance to talk about it tonight.

Barbara Wilson:
I couldn't agree with you more. That was a great, great game, and certainly changed things for women in sport.

Barbara Wilson:
Okay, Emma, you're up next. Are you ready?

Emma Crafton:
Okay, my PowerPoint was about my senior thesis paper, which was about women in sports and sports history because that's kind of my area of expertise and study here. My paper was Gender Politics, Inequalities, and Female Empowerment in Women's Sports. The second half of my paper was really focused in on comparing the fights of the United States' national soccer team, the WNBA, the Women's Basketball Association, and just kind of comparing and contrasting and seeing all that they have to fight through and put up with. There we go, okay.

Emma Crafton:
Historically, there has been a struggle for equal pay, equal treatment, and non-biased media coverage in women's sports, and for female athletes personally. This is due potentially to male homogeny, poor marketing and perceived disinterest which leads to minimal media coverage so it's kind of that cycle. Much of the media coverage that these athletes and these female teams do receive is through a super heteronormative lens, so it kind of puts them in a box of like, you're a female athlete, and the emphasis is on the female here.

Emma Crafton:
And so, both the United States women's national soccer team, and the Womens National Basketball Association, the USWNT and WNBA, have consistently been two organizations whose athletes have been pushing for equality since day one. And they both have incredible successful male counterparts, which really makes it evident that you can see how different the media coverage, and the pay, and everything involved in it is, because you can just easily compare and easily see how the men are treated. Actually within these two teams there is different media coverage as well, because of the make-up of each league. The USWNT is more white and heterosexual presenting, compared to the WNBA which has a lot of people of color and a lot of non-straight athletes.

Emma Crafton:
The reason I chose this topic is because I am a female athlete, and I feel that this is pervasive in society. Sports are super important for the future development of girls and women, and female athletes are no different from their male counterparts in terms of talent and hard work, so media coverage and pay shouldn't be an issue there either.

Emma Crafton:
Okay, so Megan Rapinoe, this was a first hand account of the coverage that the US Women's National team and the WNBA get. Because she is dating Sue Bird, and when the WNBA have their finals in the bubble she was there the whole time with her, so she really got to experience the lack of media coverage and the difference between her team and their team. And a lot of it is because she recognized that there are a lot of women of color in the league, and a lot of open LGBT on the WNBA.

Emma Crafton:
Then I had another source that talked about how and why there is inequality and a huge pay gap between the WNBA and the NBA, and it is mainly due to poor marketing for a majority of the teams. They market women's basketball as really family friendly, which they don't do for WNBA at all. WNBA they really emphasize the bad boys, the hardcore athletes, these tough guys, and then the WNBA is all about, oh yeah, look at these women, they play basketball and they have families. It's like the basketball is kind of secondary, and they're marketing to women and children, who aren't always the primary sports viewership. They don't really market towards men at all, so they're really missing out on that.

Emma Crafton:
There's also been a lot of mismanagement of the teams. Two teams, the New York Liberty and the Washington Mystics were both at the major stadiums. The Mystics are from New York and they were playing at Madison Square Garden, and they weren't selling out but they were filling that up to enough capacity that they were selling out of tickets. And the Washington Mystics were also in a large stadium, and they moved both of them to smaller stadiums further away from the city, more in the suburbs. So then, of course, that tanked their ticket sales and their viewership, so just another inequity there and mismanagement.

Emma Crafton:
My last one is actually an analysis of the US Women's National Soccer Team wage and gender discrimination. It just was examining why there's a wage and gender discrimination in US Soccer, FIFA, and the National Women's Soccer League as well, and it's because there's a differing pay structure and salary for the National Women's Soccer League and the US National Women's Soccer Team, which, kind of messes up the way they have to collectively bargain. Their collective bargaining is often compared with the US men's national team collective bargaining agreement, but the pay structures are so different in the regular soccer league that the female athletes, like on the US women's national team, have to make up for that within their collective bargaining. They're on a completely different pay structure, whereas the men are a pay-to-win, the female athletes are on salary. And so, there's just always an argument about that.

Emma Crafton:
All of the national women's soccer team players are on the regular club teams, the football club teams, and they don't even get paid from the club team. They get paid from US Soccer and FIFA themselves, because they know that the pay structure doesn't work, and there's not enough money. The US women's national team makes $46,000 a year or less playing for the regular soccer league, the NWSL, and then some of those players in the NWSL are making as little as $16,538, which is just above the poverty line and that's all they'll ever make. So, that's an issue as well.

Emma Crafton:
Then just some analysis in conclusion... Oh the WNBA has jersey sponsorship, and they've led the way in that. Jersey sponsorship is really common in international sports, especially soccer, but in American sports it's really not common. The WNBA started to use it to make up for a lack of profits from media coverage and television deals. That then turned into the NBA wanting to have it like the WNBA, but the WNBA has had it for seven years, so they kind of led the way for that. Unfortunately, it was for a bad reason because they just needed more revenue.

Emma Crafton:
And then pay structure is different than the US men's national team and the US women's national team, as I explained. The WNBA and US women's national team are two of the most progressive leagues in speaking out for social justice causes. Both of these teams have spoken out about Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ rights issues, and the WNBA in 2020 dedicated their whole season to social justice and Black Lives Matter, and with that, because of the COVID 19 season, they still saw a viewership increase of 63% from the 2019 season, because of an increase in the number of games televised. So in a way COVID kind of helped them, because they were like, well we need to put more sports on TV, sports, sports, sports.

Emma Crafton:
Even with that, with their increased media coverage, they were still competing against the NBA finals, and the world series, and they still saw an increase. So that was really awesome, and it just showed that when you put women's sports on TV at regular hours people will watch it, and they don't put it behind the crazy pay wall. The US women's national team also were really outspoken about pay and equity and they filed that lawsuit, several lawsuits, a couple of them have been struck down, and there's just a lot of inequity perpetuated by US Soccer and FIFA, so it's not just in America it's international.

Emma Crafton:
One example of that is the 2019 World Cup prize money for men was $400,000,000 compared to the women's $30,000,000. And they claim it's because the women's team just doesn't make enough money, but if you put it on TV they'll make the money. It's ridiculous, and there's been a bunch of studies that prove it. Then both the WNBA and US women's national team are outspoken supporters of LGBTQ+ rights, the WNBA has pride games. Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe are both, one from the WNBA and one from the Women's national team that are really outspoken about LGBT rights, and then the WNBA 2020 season did have record high viewership because of the record high number of games being televised on major television channels.

Barbara Wilson:
Thank you so much for sharing all that, that's amazing. Dene, are you ready to go?

Dr. Dene Williamson:
Yeah. Hey, guys. I am at the lightning game right now, it's actually LGBTQ, just by chance, this evening. I think I'm going to take a little different route. I didn't put together a presentation. I really wanted to focus on a bit of, I think my motto that I received from a good friend of mine, is that, if you can see it you can be it. My focus is really getting women involved in the front office for sport organizations, and it is truly a male dominated world. But, again, I think the mentors that you can find for yourself, the people that you surround yourself, and the people that you work with, are truly going to assist you with development within the industry. We obviously can't all be professional athletes, so for those of us that still want to be involved in sports, this industry has tons of opportunities, and there are truly some great role models in the front office that we can surround ourselves.

Dr. Dene Williamson:
Probably one of the biggest and most important things is to truly continue to work together and uplift each other as females in the industry. There's a number of organizations that people in the industry can join, one of them is the WILD Women in Leadership, and I can't remember what the D stands for, but it's part of the facility management industry. Getting yourself involved in organizations on a national level is super helpful. And I want to just say that I went into teaching because I didn't see enough females in this industry, and I worked hard to ground myself with good people. When I did get those jobs at the University of Miami, the United States women's association, and made a true point to learn from women working in the industry. So I think I've definitely taken it a different route as far as women in sports in the industry, and working in different facets of the industry.

Dr. Dene Williamson:
And again, if you can see it you can be it. Reaching out and finding someone to look up to. Reaching out at different organizations and seeing the females that are involved in the front office staff of those organizations. We all want to help each other, and all it takes is an email, and better yet a phone call. So, finding someone that can bring you along, we are again, everyone that I've experienced in the industry has been very welcoming around that facet. So, thus the reason why I teach sport business, and I hope to be a person that can be, I guess, a push for us females to become more involved in the industry.

Barbara Wilson:
I know the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are doing really good at hiring women. I'm not really sure about the Lightning-

Dr. Dene Williamson:
The Lightning-

Barbara Wilson:
but I obviously was, with the Super Bowl and everything...

Dr. Dene Williamson:
Well, the Lightning are just as amazing of an organization as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We're fortunate that at Saint Leo we have some alumni working at the organization, for the Bucks. The Super Bowl committee is a different entity. It just so happened that the Bucks made it into the Super Bowl this year which was great for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, not so much for my Kansas City Chiefs, but it is definitely a way to see different facets and what happens in a city when a big event comes into town. But I think the biggest thing is not to be hesitant to reach out to people. If you go to a specific organization, you see someone that might fit a role that you want to look into, send them an email, make a phone call, send a thank-you note, and start the line of communication.

Barbara Wilson:
Yeah, absolutely. All right, I have some questions for you guys. Caitlin, I'll start with you.

Barbara Wilson:
What do you think can be done to continue to increase visibility for women in sports?

Caitlin Hansen:
I think that's a really good question because it's one, women's lacrosse specifically, we have meetings every year about how our sport in particular can get more visible. We're still a growing and evolving sport, but one of the challenges we face is there isn't enough air time allocated to women's sports. Even with sports like women's soccer, the WNBA, that do have fan following, and people do know about, they're kind of snuck in there in between or at odd hours. I think that an awesome thing that's happening for college sports is that most networks like for example, [inaudible 00:28:01] airing games for free, and I almost hope [inaudible 00:28:06] there to make money, but it'd be really helpful if Big Ten, Pac-12, some of these really big power conferences could let people have easier access to them, maybe not charge us $60 to view a game.

Caitlin Hansen:
I think that putting it out there in whatever platforms are available. I think social media's been awesome for visibility, because not only do I see all the clips from all the sports on there, but it also starts a dialogue. You see some of these players, there's two freshman stand outs right now in women's college basketball, and people like Lebron James are tweeting about them and tweeting at them, and or making [inaudible 00:28:44]. And I think Kobe Bryant started a lot of this by him taking women's sports because he had daughters, and I think that dads that have daughters, putting that out there has been really good to keep growing the sports. But I'd put as much as we can in the public eye, whether it's little clips or full length games, it's going to keep building and growing some traction, and then it just starts to kind of go viral from there.

Caitlin Hansen:
I do know that it's a big conversation every year at our coaches convention. What can we do. How can we maybe even simplify some rules, so when people are watching a lacrosse game they're not as confused by all the whistles. I know that's conversations they have in other sports too in different ways. I think just giving us the opportunity to put it out there, because I totally agree with Professor Williamson, "If you can see it, you can be it." You don't know what you're capable of if you can't see people doing it. And I'm certainly, like I said, a product of being able to see people doing it. So, I think any possible source we have is what we should be pursuing to get games and athletes out there.

Barbara Wilson:
Absolutely, couldn't agree with you more.

Barbara Wilson:
Emma, what are your thoughts on what happened with the basketball tournament this year.

Caitlin Hansen:
Oh, okay. Well, I don't know if any of you guys are familiar with TikTok, that's actually the reason it really got out there super fast and super prevalent. I think that's an awesome way to use a free media app for college athletes, even pro athletes, and especially athletes who aren't necessarily on a team like single US sport athletes, lower level kind of players, stuff like that. I think it's a great way for them to spread the word and get out there, and really promote themselves in their sports. The original video from the woman, Sedona Prince, from Oregon women's basketball, I actually had seen it on TikTok that day that it happened before I'd even seen it anywhere else, and I was like "Oh my gosh, that's just insane."

Caitlin Hansen:
I think that was great that her and a couple of her other teammates, and other girls from other teams, were then able to pile on and say "look it's not just the weight room. It's the food, it's the hotel accommodations, it's the gift packages they're giving us, it's the time that they're giving us to spend with our teams, none of it's equal." And you can easily see that because the men's side was just as much posting on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, wherever, so it's not even like the NCAA could try and hide it.

Caitlin Hansen:
The fact of the matter is that they tried to say they just didn't have enough space, and then they proved that they had space, and then they said, "oh we're staying at a different hotel," and they're like, "we're literally staying next door, they are essentially the same hotel, and if we're not getting equal accommodations you're violating Title IX and we'll file a lawsuit." One of the coaches, I honestly can't remember what team, but she said "you have three weeks to show how much you cared about the women's basketball, and you just showed that you don't care, it's an afterthought, it's always been an afterthought." Now these girls are stepping up and using their voices and showing you just how much of an injustice this is.

Caitlin Hansen:
There was another video, I think also from TikTok, of the son of the people who run the NCAA basketball tournament, they're just strictly for the basketball tournaments. He was trying to say that the reason why the women weren't getting equal accommodations and stuff, is because they don't make the same amount of money when they're on TV. And then a lot of people were fact checking him and saying look, this is a non-profit organization. They have Title IX for a reason. That doesn't matter. They can't be doing that. And, you can allocate the money from the men's tournament and split it with the women's tournament, or you can put the women's tournament on TV more. They're really simple fixes, and the way that they just threw it together, and thought that they were going to get away with it is just the same thing that has been happening, and it's the reason why we even have Title IX. And, the fact that we even have to have Title IX is also another issue.

Caitlin Hansen:
So, it was just a culmination of everything I've been researching happening, and just ridiculous. It was really upsetting, but I was super glad that they were able to speak out and actually get things changed, and hopefully next year they won't even have any issues like that.

Barbara Wilson:
Yeah, absolutely. Obviously we're talking about history in sport, and hopefully next year, in a few years, this will be changing history in some of those sports. So, we can cross our fingers for that one.

Barbara Wilson:
Dene, how about you, did you have any role models that influenced you when you were growing up?

Dr. Dene Williamson:
I played basketball, and then I played college basketball, and I think we're all familiar that we're missing the South Carolina with Dawn Staley who wrote that letter that was just referenced, and Texas is playing right now. I was fortunate to have very supportive people, and I had no idea that a career in sport management existed until a friend of mine, their brother said, "oh, you should go look at sport management," which I had never heard of. I think from that moment on I was able to go "wow, I can buy myself a little more time by getting my master's degree, and there is a career in this."

Dr. Dene Williamson:
Growing up in a small town, in the middle of Missouri, which is where I'm from, you're just a little bit limited. Again, I'm going to age myself before social media, before cell phones, before the internet, I know it's hard to believe. I think that finding out that there was a degree program that was another step to become and receive a specialized degree in this area, was huge for me. Then my mom dumped me off in Miami, and I was more than culture shock, but I was fortunate that my very first boss was a female, Stacy Bunting Thompson, who is now Associate Athletic Director at Princeton, she was at university of Miami. She really took me under her wing, and she showed me what a great boss should be like that.

Dr. Dene Williamson:
Being able to work in the industry, and then I thought you know what, I want to do something for students such as myself, and being able to go back and sort of represent from an academic standpoint and, maybe I'm not a boss of anyone, but I love surrounding myself with my students and seeing their successes.

Dr. Dene Williamson:
So, I don't want to consider myself a role model by any means, but I think when we surround ourselves with good people, good bosses, and that helps you lead by example. Even the poor experiences you might have, will still be treated as a learning experience. Being able to surround yourself around good people has been huge, and I would say my biggest role model over the last 20 years has been my very first boss at University of Miami. She has climbed the ranks, and she's amazing, so yes, absolutely.

Barbara Wilson:
That's great. Yeah, and I look back at my history in sport, I'm older than all of you, and I thought, I guess my parents did a great job of never making me feel like I couldn't do anything, because I just I never felt like, oh, I'm a female and I can't do this. The only thing I really wish I could have done is play ice hockey, because that really wasn't available. So, in my next life, whether I'm male or female, I'm going to be a professional ice hockey player.

Barbara Wilson:
But, other than that, I still played hockey with my brother. I had hockey skates my whole life, and I did other sports. Then even getting into my profession, I'm the Athletic Trainer at Saint Leo and SWA, Senior Women's Administrator for those that don't know what that is, but, I just never felt like being a woman held me back, and I guess that came from just my upbringing of never feeling like it should have.

Barbara Wilson:
I need to thank our librarian here, Doris Van Kampen, for putting this together, and I was going to ask her a question if she's available to answer. And what started her interest in sports, and why she wanted to put this together for us for tonight.

Doris Van Kampen:
Well, my interest stems back to high school. Barbara I'm probably closer to your age than anybody else's, probably a tad older even, and I started playing volleyball at a small high school, and up until that point I never thought I was athletic. That just really changed my life, and gave me a lot more confidence. I've been a big women's, and really sports in general, fan since that time. I kept playing sports of some kind, mostly volleyball, really right through my 30s and 40s, until I got too slow. I really still love watching girls grow, and seeing how sports opens up their eyes, and their abilities, and their confidence, and you don't get that with a lot of other things for girls. It just really is amazing to me, how much and how quickly they can grow when they're involved in a sport.

Barbara Wilson:
Absolutely. Obviously we all are big in athletics and we want to support it, so I think that's great. Any final words from anybody before we close this down?

Dr. Dene Williamson:
Yeah, I just wanted to say this was wonderful. You guys all did a wonderful job. I'm glad I was able to attend, great job. I just want to make a comment to Emma, I'm a little bit older than you, and I did see a Liberty game at Madison Square Garden. Being someone who grew up in the '70s and '80s, it was great to see Rebecca Lobo there, but to see guys wearing women's names on their jerseys, and it was packed. I was like, this is amazing. It was really eye-opening to have that much attention, and people gathering to see women's sports was fantastic, but that's all I wanted to say. Also, I'm kind of sad that they moved the venue. That kind of shows something right there, that we have a lot to go as far as equality is concerned. Thank you guys.

Emma Crafton:
Yeah, it's super unfortunate, but that's really cool you got to go the games. I actually have a WNBA vintage Miami Sols hat because we used to have a WNBA team down here. It was super before my time, but I really wish we had a WNBA team closer because I would love to catch some games, but maybe they'll come back around. That's been an issue too, is how often they change cities. It's been a real big issue for marketing and stuff too, but that's really cool that you got to see it. I know the mismanagement is just ridiculous, but they got a new overall head commissioner for the whole WNBA, so I'm hoping she'll really lock it in and get it together, because she's a little younger and more with stuff. But, that's super cool.

Dr. Dene Williamson:
Oh, I hope so. Thank you.

Barbara Wilson:
All right. I appreciate everybody's time and putting stuff together for us. I think this was a great way to end women's history month. So, thank you very much.

Doris Van Kampen:
Thank you all for coming. Thank you so much, for presenting and for coming, much appreciated.

Speaker 1:
To hear more episodes of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, visit saintleo.edu/podcast. To learn more about Saint Leo's programs and services, call 877-622-2009, or visit saintleo.edu.

 

 

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, we feature a recording from a virtual event held on March 30, 2021. This engaging panel discussion focused on women in sports. Panelists included Caitlin Hansen, head coach of the Saint Leo University women’s lacrosse team; Emma Crafton, a student-athlete and lacrosse player; and Dr. Dene Williamson, an associate professor of sport business in Saint Leo’s Tapia College of Business. Barbara Wilson, the assistant athletic director for sports medicine, served as the moderator. They talked about:

  • The 1999 U.S. women’s World Cup soccer team and how the U.S. women’s team winning the championship was a critical moment in helping to bring more awareness to women’s sports
  • Inequities in women’s sports media coverage, salaries for females in both individual and team sports, and other areas of the sports world compared to their male counterparts
  • The lack of women in front offices of sports franchises and ways to increase these opportunities
  • How female athletes partnering with male athletes has brought more awareness to women’s sports
  • How social media has positively impacted women’s sports by giving female athletes a platform to be heard

This event was organized by university librarian Doris Van Kampen-Breit and was part of the “Recharge with Reading” initiative, sponsored by Academic Affairs and the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library in recognition of National Women’s History Month.

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