Week 4: Women in Sports

Day 1: 6×4 minute AMRAP

In the United States, only 1% of almost 400,000 swimmers registered with USA Swimming are African-American, according to the USA Swimming Foundation. A swimmer is 60 times more likely to be white than black.​
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If a random citizen were to walk into the pool area of a swim meet, they would see an extreme representation of the white community among the swimmers, coaches and parents.  Even watching the Olympics on TV, viewers will see a drastic amount of white athletes and spectators, with the occasional colored participant.

In the sport of swimming, black representation is slim to none. Black swimmers rarely have a professional athlete to look up to, as they might in predominantly black sports.  Simone Manuel and Cullen Jones are two of the few professional swimmers around for black swimmers in the United States to look up to.  

According to USA Swimming registration statistics, only 1% of 400,000 competitive swimmers are black within the United States.  There are various reasons for this racial disparity.

There is an idea around the sport of swimming, as with any other sports, that it is a white person’s sport.  This mentality is common among both the white and black communities. There is an unspoken expectation that black people should not know how to swim, or do not need to know how to swim, amongst many communities.  That stigma deters black people from becoming involved in swimming, because there is an expectation in place that they do not belong.  

Another deterrence from the sport of swimming is the need for a pool to be involved.  A pool involves a membership, and a membership to a pool is usually more expensive than it might be to buy a basketball and a pair of sneakers, or a pair of cleats, or spikes for running.  If the average household income of a black family is significantly lower than the white community, there is a lesser ability to pay for sports that require memberships and registrations for sports like swimming. 

With countless years in which the black community has not been involved in swimming, there has not been a sufficient amount of education around the importance and use of the sport that would help promote more involvement.  The issue is circular, therefore, because as long as there are so few black people involved in swimming, the education about the sport will be limited, and the involvement will be limited.  So, as with many issues, without education, there can be no positive change.    

The information outlined above, along with more detailed explanations, can be found in the following websites:

Where Are All the Black Swimmers?

Challenging the Myth that ‘Blacks Can’t Swim’

Here’s Which Youth Sports Cost the Most

Examining the Black-White Wealth Gap


6×4 minute AMRAP

  • 10 tricep pushups
  • 10 streamline pike ups
  • 10 sumo breaststroke squats

Day 2: 29 minute cardio

The early entry rate for black girls in sports (ages 6 and below) is 29%, compared to a rate of 53% among white girls.
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Exposure to sports at a young age opens up countless opportunities for young athletes. Unfortunately when it comes to early involvement among young girls, the entry rate for black girls is 29%, compared to 53% for white girls. This is disappointing because of the enormous potential of African American girls in the athletic community- according to the National Women’s Law Center, African American girls express the highest interest in leadership opportunities out of any racial group. This can be attributed to factors such as discrimination, lack of representation, and various socioeconomic factors. There’s already a lack of representation of Black girls in sports such as lacrosse, swimming, field hockey, and softball, and the low entry rate is yet another barrier for the female African American community to overcome. 

Black girls and women in sports also face a number of biases and stereotypes unique to this community, including the idea that black girls are only useful for their speed, rather than their skill. In soccer, black players are often never asked what position they would like to play, and are instead placed at forward by default- coaches make the assumption that their black players are designed for the position requiring the most sprinting. Crystal Dunn, a black defender on the USWNT, says that she has always been commended for her athletic abilities, but never for being the intelligent, versatile player with vision that she is. Additionally, many black female athletes have reported struggling with being told that they are too angry, too emotional, or aggressive, a stereotype that already exists regarding all women, but the effects are amplified when looking at black women in particular. This type of bias against black female athletes starts at a young age, and likely plays a role in keeping black girls out of sports that they have the potential to excel in. 

To learn more about exposure to sports among young girls, visit the following websites, where the information was found: 

The Women’s Sports Foundation Report Brief: 


The struggle is real: The unrelenting weight of being a black, female athlete


29 minute cardio workout

Ideas: running, swimming biking, rowing

Day 3: HIIT workout

Although women make up approximately 40% of all athletes, they receive just 4% of sports coverage.
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Despite the growing number of female athletes and women’s sporting events being held around the world, media coverage of women’s sports is incredibly low. In 2013, Cheryl Cooky, an associate professor at Purdue University, conducted research showing that media coverage of women’s sports has actually decreased over the past 20 years. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation in 2019, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys, often because they do not see female athletes being given the media coverage they deserve. The media’s lack of quality coverage of female athletes is just another example of the American societal idea that generally speaking, women are inferior than their male counterparts. 

The lack of media coverage of female sports is blatantly obvious when looking at the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team, and their inspiring 2012-2013 season. The Gophers, as they are known, won every game in their conference, achieving what many teams can only dream of accomplishing. But when it came time for the final games of their perfect season, the team and many of their fans were disappointed to find out that the games were not televised. Media coverage on women’s sports is mostly evident during the Olympics, and in “feminine” sports such as gymnastics and ice skating.

 Even when female athletes receive media coverage, it often overexualizes them rather than focusing on their athletic achievement. Female athletes, when compared with their male counterparts, are much more likely to be covered off the court and out of their uniforms. Many female athletes who excel at their sport often find their sexuality and femininity questioned, leading them to choose to pose in these hypersexualized shots. In a documentary titled “Media Coverage & Female Athletes”, Cheryl Cooky stated, “If I’m [a female athlete] conforming to this image, no one’s going to question my femininity, and therefore no one’s going to question my sexual orientation or my sexual identity.”

So what message does the current media representation (or lack thereof) of women in sports send to young female athletes? It tells them that they should pick another activity, that sports are for boys. It tells them that if they choose to play a sport, their image and how they are portrayed to the world will no longer be their choice alone. Their achievements will be diminished and their successes will be forgotten.

An Adidas global initiative called She Breaks Barriers seeks to remedy this issue. This campaign aims to “provide better access to sports for women and girls, remove gender stereotypes, and create greater visibility for female athletes at all levels.” By dismantling phrases like “don’t throw like a girl!” and ensuring that Adidas has equal gender representation across all social media channels, She Break Barriers is working to give young female athletes the visibility they need to succeed in their sport and learn how powerful they truly are. 

To learn more about media coverage of women’s sports, utilize the sources listed below, where the information above was found:

Lack of media coverage for women’s sports 

Female Athletes Receive Only 4% of Sports Media Coverage—Adidas Wants to Change That 

Media Coverage and Female Athletes | Media Coverage & Female Athletes 

Women in Sports — Issue on Pay Gap, Media Coverage and Women Representation in Sports 


4 exercises, 40 reps each

  • 40 burpees
  • 40 pushups
  • 40 jump squats
  • 40 crunches

Day 4: 17.5 minute core

Female athletes of color only receive 17.5% of female athletic opportunities despite representing more than a quarter of the population of female athletes.
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Female athletes already receive a significantly lesser amount of attention and finances than their male counterparts in the United States.  Within the gender, though, black women receive fewer opportunities than white women in athletics.  Specifically, black women receive 17.5% of athletic opportunities, while white women receive 75%. When the black female student population is 26.2%, and the white is 68.5%, the opportunities very obviously favor the white female students.

Studies have shown an extensive list of positive effects on people’s health, both mentally and physically, with involvement in athletics.  Women who are involved in sports are less prone to heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, anxiety, and more health related issues.  Also, women involved in sports have shown to have greater success in academics and job application processes.  Women who were involved in sports in college usually have a higher graduation rate than those who weren’t.

Now, if access to said sports, which are supposed to have so many positive aspects and outcomes associated with them, is limited due to the color of one’s skin- an uncontrollable, the advantages of the sports are lost to those who cannot access them.  So, as a result, black women experience more health issues that might have been prevented with their involvement in athletics. 

More information regarding female access to athletics can be found at the following website:



17.5 minute core, 5 sets of the following:

  • 30 seconds front plank
  • 30 seconds left plank
  • 30 seconds right plank
  • 30 seconds crunches
  • 30 seconds V ups
  • 1 minute rest

Day 5: Lower Body and Abs

African American female athletes are heavily concentrated in a limited number of sports, with close to 68% participating in two sports: basketball & track and field, compared to only 28% of white females participating in these same sports.
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Black athletes seem to be concentrated in a select few sports, with some outliers on predominantly white athletic teams.  For men, the predominantly black sports are football and basketball.  For women, most black athletes participate in either basketball or track and field. In each of those sports, the white members of the teams are the minority.  However, there are so many more sports in the United States alone in which white athletes are the majority.  

At Penn State, there are 15 male and 14 female Division 1 level athletic teams.  Of those 15 male teams, there are two predominantly black male teams- football and basketball.  That is roughly 13 percent of the men’s teams in which the majority of the members are black.  On the women’s side at Penn State, there 2 out of 14 teams that are predominantly black, or about 14 percent.  Overall, the predominantly black teams at Penn State are about 14 percent of the athletic teams on campus.  There are teams at Penn State where there is only one black athlete on the whole team.  This is not unique to Penn State either.  

If those percentages were extended to the professional level of sports, the percentages would most likely be similar. Of the NFL players, roughly 70 percent are black.  Black NBA players comprise around 75 to 80 percent of the athletes in the NBA.  Around 69 percent of WNBA players are black.  Comparatively, the owners of professional athletic teams, and the coaches, are predominantly white.  

This power dynamic hinders the financial freedom of professional athletes to speak their minds on topics that involve their own safety and community. Around 75 percent of NFL coaches are white.  Although there are white allies throughout the nation, and some coaches are in fact allies, there are other coaches who hinder their black players’ abilities to speak or act on their beliefs regarding their community’s struggles as mistreated citizens of the United States, and threaten players’ job securities.  This issue was seen with Colin Kaepernick, although it occurs behind the scenes when outsiders cannot see. 

Until this power dynamic, and control over black players’ abilities to speak their minds is lifted, the predominantly black sports will not have access to the amount of powerful positive change and education they can provide to their communities- their ideas will continue to be suppressed. Predominantly black sports, without the suppression, would have the ability to further encourage involvement in athletics to their community, which might help increase the percentages of black athletes involved in predominantly white sports, and allow for a more diverse and accepting athletic nation.

The information above, and more, can be found at the following websites:


Dealing with racism and pain two constants for African-American NFL players

Racial breakdown in the NBA

WNBA scores high on Racial and Gender Report Card


6 minute choice abs: alternate every 28 seconds

Then: 8 minute choice squats: alternate every 28 seconds

Day 6: Sprint Workout

Less than 10% of all sports news anchors, commentators, and editors are female. Not until 2017 did a woman announce a men’s March Madness or Monday Night Football game.
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Though interest in women’s sports has certainly grown since Title IX, less than 10% of sports editors, commentators, and anchors are female. In fact, it took until 2017 for a woman to announce a March Madness game or a Monday Night Football game. The lack of representation within sports coverage, especially in women’s sports, has been linked to the oversexualization of female athletes, particularly women of color. One study notes that less focus was given to the athletes’ physical ability on the field, focusing on their emotions instead. 

According to reporter Lesley Visser, in NFL AFC and NFC championship games, there’s typically about 2000 credentials in the press box, and usually about three of those are female. This number has hardly changed since the 1980s. Lesley Visser also recalls her experiences as a young sports reporter, even saying that many of her early media credentials told her “No women or children allowed in the press box.” Since she wasn’t allowed to enter, Visser would wait in the parking lot to interview players. This was obviously extremely humiliating, and said that she was once mistaken for a fan by QB Terry Bradshaw, who took her reporting notepad and signed his autograph. 

Having equal representation in sports reporting will allow for more equitable coverage and diversified stories within the sporting community. It will require more pioneers like Visser to confront the issue and strive for the creation of more opportunities for female reporters. 

The information listed above can be found by visiting the following sources: 

Female sports journalists still face rampant sexism on the job

Reflections on Communication and Sport: On Women and Femininities – Toni Bruce, 2013

TV pioneer Lesley Visser combines grace, style and humor


10 sets 100m sprint

Day 7: 900 second (15 minute) HIIT

Though US Soccer continues to pay female athletes less than their male counterparts, from 2016 to 2018, women’s games generated about $50.8 million in revenue compared to 49.9 million in revenue for the men, a difference of 900k.
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The difference in pay between the US men’s and women’s soccer teams has placed US soccer in the middle of an ongoing lawsuit debating the circumstances surrounding unequal compensation. The US Soccer Federation claims that the pay differential is “based on differences in aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex” and that the two teams are “physically and functionally separate organizations.”In this statement, the federation admits that there is a difference in pay, however fails to recognize that the US Women’s National team actually brings in higher revenue than their male counterparts. From 2016 to 2018, womens’ soccer games generated about $50.8 million in revenue compared to $49.9 million for the men, according to US soccer financial documents. The women brought in about $900,000 more than the men over the examined time span. 

The salaries of the players can be difficult to compare, as the collective bargaining agreements are structured very differently. Women are guaranteed a base salary, whereas the mens’ salaries fluctuate based on minutes played and minutes on the bench. Despite the differences in contract structure, if both teams win all 20 of their yearly friendlies, women’s team players would earn a max of $99,000 ($4,950 per game), while men’s team players would earn $263,320 ($13,166 per game). It would be a stretch, though, for the men’s team to reach this level of performance, as they failed to even qualify for the last World Cup while the women have successfully won the last two consecutive World Cups. For the US women to even approach the salaries of the men’s team members under the current collective bargaining agreement, they must continue their trend of world class performance. 

The mens’ team has issued a statement in support of the womens’ team’s lawsuit against US Soccer. Players have called for a revenue sharing model that guarantees equal pay, where salaries remain the same regardless of gender, even if one team is bringing in more revenue than the other.  With such overwhelming support in favor of equal pay, there is hope for a more equitable future. 

More information on this topic can be found at the following websites, where the information above was found:

Analysis | Are U.S. women’s soccer players really earning less than men?

US women’s soccer games now generate more revenue than men’s

US Women’s Soccer Games Outearned Men’s Games


900 second (15 minute) HIIT workout: 3 sets of the following

  • 1 minute mountain climbers
  • 1 minute skaters
  • 30 seconds high knees
  • 30 seconds squat jumps
  • 30 seconds right side lunges
  • 30 seconds left side lunges
  • 1 minute rest

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