The Princess Points: ESPN may finally provide legitimacy women’s sports deserve

By Princess McDowell, shades magazine

With the secret meeting at Torrey Pines, the buzz was born.

Women’s sports executives, iconic female athletes, journalists and enthusiasts all descended on the Lodge in La Jolla, California, the weekend of Sept. 30 to meet, fellowship and announce the creation of another subsidiary of mega sports media outlet ESPN – this one dedicated to women’s sports.

Billie Jean King spoke at the opening ceremonies, and espnW Vice President Laura Gentile talked about the channel’s mission to “serve, inform and inspire the female athlete and fan” at the espnW recent retreat.

In a transcript of Gentile’s opening remarks, which was posted to espnW’s Facebook page, she said, “There are precious few places that recognize and cheer for women who achieve great things in sports.

“There is a real need out there.”

That need alone is a great reason to create a women’s sports channel. And if the network does it right, espnW will successfully do all the things Gentile mentioned and legitimize women’s sports and female sports fans in the process.

Currently, there aren’t many places to get intelligent coverage and analysis of women’s sports. The dominant websites aren’t backed by any large organization and mostly consist of contributors pooling their postings together to comprise one large site. Quality women’s sports coverage is a grassroots movement at best.

espnW – mostly because it is backed by the ESPN brand – will be by default the center of the women’s sports universe. It will attract new and old fans, longtime followers and interested viewers simply because of the network’s history in the sports industry.

And it will even bring in the stragglers who never bothered to try to look and find women’s sports information on their own.

Women’s sports not being regularly shown on ESPN is one reason why it’s not as popular as it should be. With this channel’s creation, there is a reason to watch – hey, its on ESPN.

Of course, there are many other reasons for people to watch women’s sports, including, but not limited to, the athleticism and purity of its role models. However, those reasons haven’t garnered nearly enough attention. So I’m just being realistic … people will watch something if it’s on ESPN.

espnW would also put a face on the fans of women’s sports. Currently, there isn’t a general consensus of what the women’s sports fan looks like.

One stereotype, which is not the prototype in most cases, shows women in pink glittery jerseys pumping pom-poms at the screen. Another, and much more accurate one, is filled with extremely savvy women talking about a sports’ intricacies and strategies. And the last one is a mixed bunch of men and women, just, to plainly put it, talking sports – who’s hot, who’s not and how crazy they are.

There is a large misconception that there aren’t many women’s sports fans around, like we are an endangered species. Well here’s a dirty little secret: more people than you think can tell you about Lisa Leslie or Serena Williams and they aren’t all female.

As I see it, there really isn’t a downside to ESPN adding espnW. The brand, set to launch next spring as a blog – but currently still in infantile stages of a new social network user – won’t pull from the flagship’s content or resources because there is such a large contingent willing to make this happen for future generations. That was proven with the response from the retreaters that attended the conference to announce the launch.

Several contributors relayed how much its attendees wanted this concept to not only happen, but to expand and even become a broadcast channel, including Megan Hueter, co-founder of

And if it is run correctly, little by little it will bring credibility and legitimacy to women’s sports.

One Response to “The Princess Points: ESPN may finally provide legitimacy women’s sports deserve”


  1. The Princess Points: ESPN may finally provide legitimacy women’s sports deserve « shades magazine - October 20, 2010

    […] Read more … […]

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