These Rio 2016 Statistics Crush The Idea That People Don't Care About Women's Sports
The Rio Olympics may be over, but the legacy of feminism from these games will be remembered for a long time. Search data provided to Bustle by Google shows that there was significantly more Google searching for Olympic female athletes than for male athletes for most sports in the games -- an astonishing shift in the traditional paradigm of sports which could have a permanent impact on how the world views female athletes. This data shows that the foundation for real change within the elite sports world is finally here, and the Olympics could be a lot different now that women are leading.
Google compiled the results of searches throughout the duration of the Olympics, and found that out of 40 events, there were more searches for female athletes in 29 of them. Women received more searches in many of the most popular sports, including soccer, diving, beach volleyball, judo, and gymnastics. Swimming was the number-one searched sport, and men did dominate that category, with 74 percent of searches, but it was a very unusual year for swimming. Between Michael Phelps' last Olympic performance and #LochteGate, there was a lot going on with male swimmers, which could explain why they had more searches. There were more searches for male track and fielders as well, the second-most-searched sport, but women won the number-three sport, artistic gymnastics, at a margin of 78 percent to 22 percent.
This pretty much blows a hole in the theory that people don't care about women's sports or female athletes. Although Google did not provide concrete numbers about how many people completed these searches, it's safe to assume it was a lot, given that NBC recorded 3.3 billion total streaming minutes online. That's an enormous market of people who were invested and interested in women's sports, and because of that, different sports could receive a lot more coverage, and more female-centric coverage, in coming Olympics.
That's not to say that some of those search results weren't problematic. NBC got slammed for its sexist coverage of multiple female athletes throughout the games, and many other outlets didn't do such a great job covering the women of the Olympics either. But that could change as outlets realize the immense interest there is in women's sports. Now, the next step for promoting women's sports is translating this Olympic love into year-round interest.
Gymnasts have frequent international and national competitions, women's soccer is regularly shown on television, and beach volleyball plays tournaments throughout the year that you can watch online. For the less popular sports, there's the new Olympic Channel, which gives sports fans the opportunity to follow Olympic sports more easily between Games.
Not only can you follow news from all your favorite sports that seem to only be around during the Olympics, but the channel also produces original content that will make you even more informed about the past and future of the Olympic games. By supporting women's sports throughout the year and not just during the Olympics, it provides even more of an incentive for media outlets and sports governing bodies to treat female athletes with respect.
The incredible women of the Rio Olympics gave their blood, sweat, and tears for their sports, and now people are giving back. Supporting these female athletes creates an active shift in the traditional male-centric dynamic of sports and allows more opportunities for young women to participate in sports in the future. With this change in how the world treats and perceives female athletes, the 2020 Olympics will hopefully be a fairer, more supportive environment for women.