Women’s sports demonstrate the power of LGBTQ+ representation

Amateur and professional LGBTQ+ athletes revolutionizing women’s sports

Women’s sports are pulling ahead. 
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Sports are often stuck in the past. Large sports leagues are financial and social institutions. Like many other institutions, they sometimes change slower than the rest of society. This is especially apparent in men’s sports where few athletes have come out as LGBTQ+.
 
In contrast, women’s professional leagues are still quite young and therefore less encumbered by tradition and the past. Similarly, the rank-and-file nature of college sports makes them more connected to everyday people and better positioned to reflect the makeup of society.
 
Members of the LGBTQ+ community have been fighting for change in the women’s sports world for decades. They frequently find themselves at the centre of social justice cases in their sports, acting as trailblazers for their peers and future generations of athletes. 
 
Billie Jean King, one of the top tennis talents of the 1960s and 70s, founded the Women’s Tennis Association and fought for equal prize money at large tournaments. 
 
Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson and her 2021 suspension have amplified debate around the ban on cannabis use by athletes. These women have become trailblazers, not only for their own sports, but also for sports on a more general scale.
 
Another example is Megan Rapinoe, the face of the US Women’s National Team’s battle for a better collective bargaining agreement. She and her partner, WNBA star Sue Bird, are one of the most iconic power couples in all of professional sports. 
 
Likewise, Sedona Prince is paving the way for the next generation of student athletes through her TikTok account and NIL deals, while calling out the inequalities experienced by female basketball players playing in the NCAA. 
 
While professional male sports leagues having begun embracing new ideas, they need to adopt the ones more in tune with everyday people, starting with the athletes themselves. LGBTQ+ athletes have the skills, personalities, and perspectives needed to revolutionize their respective sports for a new generation of fans. 
 
Recent changes to name, image, and likeness rules, image, and likeness rules at the collegiate level have afforded LGBTQ+ athletes new opportunities to express themselves and support their families. Now is the perfect time for leagues to tap into their star potential. 
 
In many ways, male professional sports are falling behind. If they are to remain relevant by continuing to grow and reaching new fans, they must follow the trends in women’s sports by putting their talented LGBTQ+ athletes at the forefront of their brands and businesses. 
 

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