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What to Look for in Women’s Sports in 2024

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal Poly chapter.

There is no doubt that women’s sports had a phenomenal moment in 2023 with the Women’s World Cup smashing previous records as 1.98 million fans crowded into stadium stands, or University of Nebraska’s volleyball team pulled 92,003 people as the largest crowd at a women’s sporting event. The success does not stop there, however. As we jump into the new year, here’s what to keep your eye on when it comes to women’s sports.

PWHL inaugural season

The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) kicked off its inaugural season on New Year’s Day and has since broken the attendance record at a women’s hockey game…twice. The opening game between Toronto and NYC also drew 2.9 million television viewers across Canadian networks, tackling both the NHL Winter Classic and College Football Playoff semifinal games for highest-viewed sports program of the day on the respective networks. The PWHL comprises six teams total in Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, and Toronto. Defender Micha Zandee-Hart of NYC and forward Hilary Knight of Boston are some of the top stars to watch. You can see them tear up the ice on Saturday, January 20 at 12:30 pm EST. It’s time to add watching women’s hockey to your list of resolutions this year!

NWSL expansion league

Women’s Soccer is a leading powerhouse in sports. Hello! USA women’s soccer has won 4 World Cups while the men have zero. The NWSL will grow even more with an expansion this year that will draw more fans from the respective areas and consequently, increase revenue. With the addition of Bay FC and Utah Royals FC, the league will top out at 14 teams total. The draft occurred on Friday, January 12 at 8 pm EST. Most notable is that Bay FC swiped veteran Katelyn Rowland from the Carolina Courage as their goalkeeper, which will make for a very interesting matchup. Although the league lost household names such as Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz to retirement in 2023, familiar faces and newcomers like Alex Morgan, Lindsey Horan, and Alyssa Thompson continue to light up the pitch. 2024 is the year of women’s soccer and you do not want to be left behind!

Equality at the Olympics

This summer, Paris will be filled with more than just museum goers and baguette enthusiasts as patriotic fans flock to see their favorite athletes compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics. However, this is no ordinary Olympics because there will be a 50:50 ratio between male and female athletes for the first time in history. The International Olympic Committee also highly encouraged teams to have both a woman and man carrying their flag at the Opening Ceremony on July 26. Gender equality at the Olympics has been a long time coming, and although there are still steps to take like seeing more female coaches, this is a monumental record for women and girls around the globe. We need to continue to uphold these standards at future games.

A New Dream Team

There is a plethora of incredible female athletes at the 2024 Olympics, but you definitely will want to keep your eye on the USA Gymnastics team as a new “Dream Team” is brewing. If anyone can take a 3 year break from their sport and come back better than ever, it’s Simone Biles. After the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, she took a hiatus and has returned like it was nothing. Biles has 37 World and Olympic medals (raking in five medals in 2023 alone), making her the most decorated gymnast in the world. However, it does not stop there. Gabby Douglas with 3 gold medals and Sunisa Lee with 1 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze will also be competing alongside Biles. This trio will be the one to beat and you do not want to miss it!

WNBA Commissioners Cup

The WNBA had its best viewership in 2023 (the best in 21 years to be exact) and decided to spruce up its in-season tournament to keep the streak going. Taking inspiration from the NBA’s own success with their 2023 inaugural In-Season Tournament, the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup will include 30 total games with 5 matches per team. Each of the eight teams will face an in-conference rival and play for $500K in the final. Hopefully, the condensed time of the tournament will generate buzz for the league overall as it does for the NBA. Originally, the in-season tournament was the WNBA’s idea, but the men refined it for success, so it’s time to reclaim the ingenuity and break more viewership records. Remember to tune in from June 1 through 13 to see your favorite players battle it out for the Cup!

$1 billion Revenue Growth

With record breaking attendance, league expansions, and fresh superstars, 2024 will be a pivotal year for women’s sports, especially in a business aspect. It is projected that elite-level women’s sports should generate a revenue of nearly $1.3 billion, a 300% growth than Deloittes’ analysis in 2021. Commercial sales, merchandising, gameday revenue, licensing, partnership deals, sponsorships, and broadcast rights all add to the booming business. It just shows when you invest in women, you will see an obvious and successful return.

Women’s professional sports is on the come up and that needs to be recognized. As these phenomenal athletes break more ceilings, they can serve as inspiration for little girls who are picking up their first basketball or lacing up their first pair of cleats. We need to stop treating women’s sports as secondary to men and see it for what it truly is: a force to be reckoned with.

Sam is a first-year Economics Major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She is currently involved in Her Campus as an editorial writer and a part of other Cal Poly clubs such as Investing and Waterski. Sam loves traveling, The Princess Diaries, strawberries, reading, and winning at card games. If she's not making a new Spotify playlist, you'll catch her working out or hanging out with friends!