The 2017-18 NFL season has officially started with nothing short of injuries, trades and acquisitions and team relocations. In other words, the NFL has experienced many changes in months leading up to this season. With the recent discussion of gender equality in the boardroom in Silicon Valley, will we see the same conversation and more change happening in the football industry?
Historically, American football has been viewed as a man’s game for male fans. Since 2009, that stereotype has shifted as the popularity of football for women has increased significantly. According to a study by Ohio University, about half of all American women are football fans as opposed to 69 percent of American men. In fact, women are the fastest-growing audience for the National Football League. Between 2009-2013, overall NFL female viewership rose by 26 percent, more than double the 10 percent increase among US men.
More women are not only watching football, they are playing the sport in great numbers as well. In fact, 1,715 girls played 11-man football during the 2013-2014 high school and college sports season. This means that female participation in football has increased by 161 percent since the 1999-2000 season.
This growing involvement at both the fan and participation levels, is driving the demand for women on the field in roles of authority. The Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills both made history by hiring women in coaching capacities: Jen Welter works as an Assistant Coach for Arizona and Kathryn Smith is a Special Teams Coach for Buffalo. Three NFL teams are owned outright by women, and others have female co-owners.
While women have made great progress in the world of football in recent years, there is still work to be done to continue to expand these opportunities. To learn more about football’s fastest-growing market and the women dominating the industry, checkout the infographic below, created by Ohio University.
Audrey Willis grew up playing basketball, baseball, taekwondo, volleyball, and was even the captain of her high school lacrosse team. Having a degree in journalism, she is passionate about writing and loves every chance she gets to pair it with her love for sports. Keep up with Audrey on Twitter or Linkedin.