Women’s college sports get boost in TV ratings, visibility

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“There were enough places where that story was told this time around that she’s reached a certain critical masse,” said Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture. “She’s penetrated the culture. That is the important part of that story.”

Alexander’s story resonated on various levels. She’s a Black player in a largely white sport who knocked off the eventual national champion while playing for an upstart school.

“I’m sure there have been great stories filled with all of these great narrative flourishes like hers that have been going on in women’s sports for years,” Thompson said, “but people who would have loved those stories never hear them because there hasn’t been a lot of space given.”

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The average number of viewers for the three championship final games between Oklahoma and Florida State was a record 1,840,000, up 15% over 2019. The average for the 17-game WCWS was 1,203,000, up 10% over 2019 and numbers comparable to those from the men’s College World Series in 2019.

“Finally, there is this recognition that if you show it, people will watch it,” Thompson said. “And there’s been a lot of resistance to that to women’s sports, probably because a lot of the people managing the media outlets, a lot of the people managing the various sports venues and so forth just assumed they couldn’t get the kinds of numbers that they wanted.”

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