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

NV: The responses we received helped shape the tangible ideas behind She Breaks Barriers—our global commitment to inspire and enable the next generation of female athletes, creators, and leaders. Since then we have been actively addressing some of these challenges and barriers through our athletes, with our TV and social campaigns, and in communities.

There’s a lot of talk happening on the subject of equality in sports right now. What does that mean to you? What do we need to see to make that happen?

NV: We believe that through sports, we have the power to change lives. For us, it’s about providing better access, removing gender stereotypes, and creating visibility.

By inspiring and empowering girls to play sports, providing equal access, and increasing visibility in the media, there are several stereotypes that we can help break down. Things like: Don’t throw like a girl; sports are for boys; sports are not something that girls do; if I play sports I’m going to become [too] muscular; I don’t have role models around me.

Sports provide life lessons—they teach you how to win and how to lose, they help you concentrate, they instill the art of perseverance and resilience, and they give you the confidence to succeed in life.

On top of the scientifically proven physical and mental health benefits, research shows that women in leadership positions have played sports, so it’s also about building leaders of the future—whether on the field or in the boardroom. Through research we’ve found that females who play sports have two times more confidence, and globally 96% of female C-suite executives participated in sports as teenagers.

Why is advocating for equal airtime for women’s sports so important?

NV: You need to see her to be her. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, only 4% of sports media coverage in the U.S. is dedicated to women’s sports. Girls need and want role models that they can see around them, and in the media, so they can aspire to be them.

We believe a lack of visible role models means fewer girls being inspired to start, and stay in, sports, and we want to empower girls to make sure they can gain confidence, develop leadership skills, and reach their full potential and be successful both on and off the field.

We can make a tangible difference with our actions and programs like @3StripeLive—the first-ever globally livestreamed series of girls’ sports on Twitter.

What does that mean for Adidas’s own portrayal of sports?

NV: The first step in change is looking at how we approach content creation and our own channels. We are committed to ensuring that we have equal gender representation across our owned social channels and will be moving toward having more gender-neutral campaigns.

What has been your biggest victory?

NV: We are really excited about the launch of @3StripeLive. The six-event series kicked off at the Windy City volleyball tournament in Chicago in April. The first livestream received over 3.7 million video views, and our features of the teams leading up to it received over 7 million video views. The stream was viewed by over 2 million females aged 13 to 24 in the United States. For context, that’s more total viewers than an entire episode of Riverdale reaches on the CW.

The second livestream featured an ECNL Midwest Region soccer match between two grassroots soccer clubs [@EclipseSelectSC at @Michigan_Hawks], and it received over 2 million video views.

When it comes to advocating for women in sports, what do you hope your legacy is?