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Women’s Sport is Changing Our Boys (Not Just Our Girls)

Matildas star Sam Kerr inspiring a generation of young boys. PHOTO: Rachel Bach, By The White Line.

We are in the midst of the biggest cultural shift ever seen in the history of sport. But while there’s plenty of talk about the effect women’s sport is having on the next generation of little girls, you can’t ignore how it’s also shaping our little boys.

There won’t just be visible change in our sporting culture, it will impact our social landscape as well.

Take a look at the kids in the stands at the AFLW, WBBL and Matildas matches, it’s not just little girls cheering on the female athletes, but young boys as well. They’re in the stadiums with the thrill of excitement etched on their faces, they’re waiting on the sidelines after the matches desperate for autographs and selfies with their favourite female stars. On social media, parents have posted photos of their sons collecting supporter cards of the women’s teams while a father stopped me in the street the other day to tell me how his son has posters on his wall at home of this favourite BBL player alongside a poster of his favourite WBBL player.

 

Heat WBBL star Holly Ferling signs autographs for both young girls and boys

I was at the Ashes myself over the summer and noticed two young boys in the stands with their Australian supporter t’shirts on with the names “Jonassen” and “Blackwell” printed across their backs. The shirts were in support of Southern Stars players Jess Jonassen and Alex Blackwell, but this wasn’t a women’s ashes match they were at, they were watching the men’s.

Sport is changing. It’s changing us and the world we live in.

Sport is changing. It’s changing us and the world we live in.

Growing up in the 80s, the only professional sport I was exposed to on a regular basis was men’s. I always felt like an outsider in sport, like a secret club I longed to be a part of and ironically now (as a sports journalist) didn’t think there was a future for me in. Now for little girls when they turn on the TV or go to a sporting match they can see women playing, reporting on, and involved with, the game they love. They can be inspired by the heroics of Moana Hope, Ellyse Perry and Sam Kerr and know this is a game for them as well, regardless of their gender.

But that inspiration and effect of women’s sports isn’t just limited to little girls, it’s inspiring a whole new generation of young boys as well.

 

PHOTO: Rachel Bach, By The White Line

We won’t know the full effect of this boom in women’s sport for another generation or so, but you can bet there won’t just be visible change in our sporting culture, it will impact our social landscape as well. 

You see these boys are too young to be affected by gender politics and when they go to a female sports match they don’t see women on the field, they see sport

You see these boys are too young to be affected by gender politics and when they go to a female sports match they don’t see women on the field, they see sport. They see the women playing as elite athletes, as stars, and they look up to them with the same awe and admiration as they do male players.

 

PHOTO: Cameron Grimes Photography

It means with these little boys growing up looking up to women in elite, enviable, high powered positions, they’re not going to think twice when they’re older about having a female boss, CEO or Board Director and hopefully (should it still be there) they’ll be scratching their heads about and wanting to change the societal pay gap as well.

Our childhoods shape the way we see the world. Exposing little boys to elite female athletes is providing them with amazing role models which will block the stigma of old stereotypes that have cursed women in the past. 

History will recall this time for Women’s sport as a turning point for incredible social change.

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