This is an interesting time for women in sports, including baseball. Some consider this time somewhere between the worst being behind, but the best having yet to arrive.
It’s a weird transition period from finally breaking through into traditionally male sports and getting their own space in it, to struggling with still are viewed as an aside to the main events, which is male leagues. Sports such as surfing and tennis have a range of celebrated individual athletes who became household names on par with their male counterparts. But it appears the team sports, such as football, rugby, cricket and, still to this day, baseball are still a niche.
There are a great deal of factors that go into why all-women teams in sports are exceptions rather than the norm. One of the most evident ones is pay. The way women in team sports are paid represents a vicious cycle. It seems completely natural for a male to want a professional career in baseball as their central life goal, but the girl will still be looked upon with some pity if she should dear harbour the same aspiration. Because of this, pro sports league owners, organisers and sponsors don’t pay pro female players pro money. After all, why should somebody get rich off a hobby, or an activity that is actually just an elaborate feminist statement? It seems that just loving the sport is impossible – it has to be a political ploy. This makes the sponsors nervous, thinking that the sport might fall out of fashion for females. Why invest in a long-term gathering of fanbase, advertising networks, television deals and so on, if it will all crumble in a couple of years? This isn’t sexism per se, it is more a way to avoid risk. The male teams are a much safer bet from the perspective of return on investment. This leads to the new female talent being reluctant to dedicate themselves to going pro, knowing that they will not be taken seriously nor paid swell.
It will take time to break the cycle, but it is possible through deliberate action aimed towards normalization of female participation in the sport. Much of it needs to begin on a grassroot level before it will get the attention of big-dollar executives, who only follow the momentum the sport has created for itself. Having male and female teams in schools on par with each other is key. Local and regional competitions should have equal attention and coverage dedicated to male and female leagues. The athletes themselves need to feel normal from a young age to have counterparts of the other gender being respected and taken seriously in equal measure. This means the struggle to fit into predominantly male sports, which, unfortunately, baseball has been for quite some time, must be replaced with a real identity. It is high time to get out of the mentality of resistance against the system and into having an expression of the sport that is feminine, whatever that expression will end up being. Once it becomes real in the minds of athletes and fans, the leagues and sponsors will follow.