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5/1/2024 |  Cricket Australia reveals 10-year plan to bolster women’s cricket in Australia (Gist Sports, The)

The GIST: After investing millions in women’s soccer and restructuring the WNBL, Australia is turning its attention to women’s cricket. Governing body Cricket Australia (CA) unveiled a 10-year plan yesterday formulated with input from top playerson how to grow the game, which includes a goal to boost revenue by $65.3M to reach $79.1M by 2034. Getting her the (baggy) green.

The details: By 2034, the governing body wants $327M invested in women-specific cricket infrastructure and all domestic players to become full-time professionals. CA also wants at least 40% female representation in key off-field positions, 600K fans annually at women’s cricket matches, and for 100K girls aged 5 to 12 to pick up the axe.

The global landscape: Cricket is most popular in South Asia and India is its biggest market, where the men’s Indian Premier League was valued at $5.3B in 2017 and its cricket board is worth $2.25B— 28x more than CA’s $79M value. And while the International Cricket Council mandates equal payat its events, women cricketers receive a fractionof the media exposure and investment.

  • Despite this, India is investing in women’s cricket growth in historic ways — the Women’s Premier League sold its five initial franchises for $114.4M per franchise, is now valued at $150Ma year into operations, and recently inked one of the largest rights deals in women’s sports.

The context: Australia has historically been the top contender in women’s cricket, and a 2020 survey showed the national women's cricket team had the strongest emotional connection with Aussie fans, just ahead of soccer’s Matildas. However, in order for CA to reach its goal to make cricket Australia's leading sport for women and girls, it’ll have to catch up to soccer first.

Zooming out: The CA’s plan plays into an Australian trend of revamping women’s sports infrastructure and a global movement of women’s cricket investment, which is already paying off in India. The women’s game is only currently generating 5% of Australia’s cricket revenue despite its prestige, but Australia is hoping to change that by filling stands and TV screens. Winners all-round.

4/3/2024 |  Google Trends releases data for searches related to women’s sports in March (Gist Sports, The)

The GIST: March was a wild month for women’s sports, complete with a March Madness tournament that’s transforming women’s college basketball and an NWSL season kickoff garnering more media coverage than ever. To celebrate a Women’s History Month full of sporting wins, here are the latest Google trends in women’s sports.

🎟️ Indiana Fever tickets were the top trending topic related to the WNBA Draft, while Caitlin Clark’s official Draft declaration in February made "who has the first pick in WNBA Draft" a breakout search in the U.S.

🔎 The Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball team was the top-searched March Madness squad in the U.S. and the most-searched team in several states beyond Iowa, including Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, Maine, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Clark also topped the list of players searched with the term “March Madness,” followed by Angel Reese and JuJu Watkins.

🏀 Iowa had three of the top five most-searched women’s March Madness matchups, but the top game was LSU—UCLA. The highly-anticipated matchup drew 3.8M viewers and was at the center of a Los Angeles Times divisive (and widely deemed sexist) op-ed. Milk and cookies…really?

📺 U.S. searches asking “where to watch NWSL” reached an all-time high, likely thanks to the league’s new media rights deal. The top NWSL clubs searched in relation were the KC Current, Seattle Reign FC, the Washington Spirit, Bay FC, and Angel City FC.

✨ Expansion teams Bay FC and Utah Royals FC saw high search interest surrounding their NWSL debuts. Both squads saw an increase in interest through multiple breakout searches, including “Bay FC logo,” “NWSL expansion teams,” and “Utah Royals home opener.”

🏟️ There’s profound, widespread interest in the KC Current, which opened the doors to its innovative CPKC Stadium this season. Indexed search interest in the team maxed out on Google Trends, and while searches for other NWSL clubs primarily remained regional, the Current saw search interest in nearly every U.S. state. Making waves.

3/2/2024 |  Young And Ready, Amirah Boyd Leads Caldwell Acrobatics & Tumbling (First and Pen)

Head coaches come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but rarely do they come as young as Amirah Boyd, 22, the new head coach of Acrobatics & Tumbling at Caldwell University in New Jersey.

Amirah’s path to Caldwell began in Georgia when her parents, who watched her “flipping all over the house,” enrolled her in gymnastics at the age of 3.

Over the next 10+ years, she flipped and jumped all the way to level 10 gymnastics, the highest level in the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympics program.

Unfortunately, she suffered a devastating injury in high school that derailed her plans to pursue college gymnastics.

“I could still do gymnastics, but I wasn’t the same athlete that I was before,” Coach Boyd told me when we spoke in January. 

Despite the injury, she was still being recruited by many DIII programs. She was also getting messages about acrobatics and tumbling, but she had no interest as athletics were the furthest thing from her mind. 

“‘I’m not doing this. I’m just going to graduate,'” she remembered saying to herself. “I wanted to move to the West Coast, do college there and have nothing to do with athletics.”

But then she received a message from Presbyterian College in South Carolina that changed the trajectory of her young life.

Presbyterian’s DI acrobatics and tumbling program piqued her interest. It was less than three hours away and one of her friends played soccer there, so she decided to check it out.

And that’s when thoughts of moving West ended.

“I fell in love immediately. I loved the coach, I loved the atmosphere, and I was actually part of the inaugural team there,” she told me. “I fell in love with the idea of being a part of something new.”

It wasn’t just a new location and environment. It was also a new challenge that rekindled her interest in sports.

She competed in acrobatics and tumbling for the next four years, and during her sophomore year, she developed the coaching bug, a rarity for young athletes still competing and still in school.

That was proof that age didn’t define or limit Amirah’s future or career path.

So she started to learn about coaching, including practice plans and putting groups together. And since her head coach lacked an assistant coach, Amirah filled that void.

When her senior year rolled around, she started looking for jobs. Some suggested she should look for assistant coaching positions but Amirah was determined to be a head coach despite the doubts about her age and experience.

That February, she applied to Caldwell University and had a whirlwind romance with the school.

“I interviewed, I want to say, like four days before I graduated. I kid you not,” she said. “I graduated May 13th, I saw the campus May 15th and they hired me a day later.”

A week later, her bags were packed and she was in New Jersey.

It was a surprising move to many in her circle, but doubts didn’t phase her. 

“It’s been the best thing,” she told me. “This is what I wanted to do. I had it on my heart then, so I decided to take it.”

But as the joy and excitement of achieving her goal subsided, the reality of her new situation surfaced. 

She was now running a program in only its second year of existence and she was a first-year head coach who had literally just graduated from college.

That meant she would be learning on the fly, recruiting and coaching athletes around her age and the sport was still relatively new. 

Believing that transitioning from gymnastics to acrobatics and tumbling is easy is similar to thinking that moving from boxing to MMA is easy.

While similarities exist, they are very different sports.

But instead of letting it overwhelm her, Amirah simplified things to make it easier for her, her team and the uninformed.

“There’s floor, but there’s no bar and there’s no vault. But you are tumbling,” she said. “If you’ve ever seen a cheer routine, they have baskets, pyramids, tumbling and stunts all in a two-minute and 30-second routine. You break up each specific section, and that’s one event in acro [acrobatics].”

But what about the coaching and business side of the sport? 

Again, not a problem.

She started with scheduling and focused on local events and local talent. She also kept a tight rein on expenses, which is a challenge for any new program. 

Amirah was able to sign 12 players, giving her 20 rostered athletes. By hitting the minimum of 18, the team was eligible for its first full season in terms of meets and events.

Last Saturday, February 24th, the team began the season in the best way possible with a 190.115-189.270 victory over Stevenson University. That was the first win in program history, a goal the first-year head coach told me in January that she wanted to accomplish.

“My biggest goal this year was to come in and have our first program win because they didn’t get to have that last year,” she told me.

So now that she has her first win, she’s focused on the remaining five events, which entail more prep, more coaching and more focus.

And that’s on top of her also being an assistant SID (Sports Information Director).

Amirah Boyd has the program off to a good start and has her eyes focused on everything from coaching and winning to recruiting and becoming an officially sanctioned NCAA sport.

But she has a vision and refuses to be deterred.

“If someone wants to do acro, I want them to say, ‘Oh, Caldwell University.'”

It’s an ambitious goal, but one I have no doubt she will achieve.

“Y’all better watch out for Caldwell,” she told me.

I believe her, and you should too.

2/29/2024 |  Howard’s Figure Skating Team Part of Olympic Sport Growth at HBCUs (Front Office Sports)

Over the weekend, Howard students became the first from a historically black college and university (HBCU) to compete in figure skating.

Team founders Maya James, Cheyenne Walker, and their teammates have contended about a lack of practice space, with the only ice area in Washington, D.C., under renovation. They get a private hour at a public outdoor facility and travel to the arena in College Park, Md.

“We didn’t really have that opportunity to get consistent ice time until this semester, and it’s only [been] one month,” Walker told NPR.

The team, a club not officially affiliated with the university’s athletic department, debuted in an intercollegiate competition at the University of Delaware, the alma mater of one of their coaches, Joel Savary, who also runs a nonprofit called Diversify Ice. James finished fifth of 11 skaters in the Juvenile Women Short Program, per Essence and the team’s Instagram account. The team also holds training sessions to teach other students how to skate.

“By embracing more diversity, we would be embracing more artistic styles and even music, such as performances to Beyoncé instead of traditional pieces like Swan Lake, the sport becomes more accessible and relevant to a broader audience. This cultural infusion not only enhances the spectator experience but also attracts new participants, ultimately contributing to the sport’s popularity and longevity,” Savary tells Front Office Sports over email. “By providing sponsorship, mentorship, networks, and opportunities for minorities in skating, Diversify Ice is actively working to dismantle systemic barriers and create a more inclusive and equitable sport.”

Howard’s figure skaters are one of several examples at HBCUs where starting or bringing back Olympic sports is gaining momentum.

Last year, Fisk University became the first HBCU gymnastics program to compete in an NCAA event, a journey that merited plans for a docuseries.

Tennessee State University will boast the first HBCU hockey team next winter, with plans to start a men’s team at the club level but eventually compete at the Division I level with both men’s and women’s programs.

Howard is also the only HBCU with a swim and dive team after dozens of programs shuttered over the years. The Bison graced the cover of Sports Illustrated last February, the first all-Black swim team to do so. Many schools are reportedly planning on establishing or bringing back their programs.

2/7/2024 |  The Players Fund founder highlights what women athletes bring to the table (Gist Sports, The)

The GIST: Fergus Bell, founder of the athlete-led venture capital firm The Players Fund (TPF), recently argued that women athletes can be more impactful than male sports stars. While Bell mentioned how this is influencing sports sponsorships and coverage, recent additions to TPF demonstrate how it’s also influencing the boardroom.

The Players Fund: The firm was launched last August by a global group of men’s cricketers and soccer players. Raising $50.9M at the outset, the fund allows athletes to have a say in its investment choices while also educating them on investing risks and rewards and helping them pave a financial future after retirement. 

  • The firm was entirely composed of male athletes until last December, when TPF addedseveral prominent women athletes as new partners, including retired legends such as Allyson Felix and Eni Aluko and active players like Nikita Parris.

The trend: While most women athletes are only starting to get paid, tennis stars specifically offer a window into the future as the pay gap closes. Top women’s tennis players have been bringing home the bacon for years thanks to equal Grand Slam prize money and lucrative sponsorships, which savvy players like Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have leveraged into investment opportunities.

  • Williams is in a league of her own with Serena Ventures, the firm she started in 2014 that has invested in at least 64 companies, including popular startups like MasterClass, Tonal, and Olly. Over half of these companies are founded by women, while 76% have founders from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Making sure everyone has a seat at the table. 
  • Osaka has partnered with popular companiesthat align with her athletic lifestyle like BodyArmor and Sweetgreen, but she’s also stepped beyond the court. Osaka’s media company, Hana Kuma, launched in partnershipwith LeBron James’ SpringHill Productions.

Zooming out: Including women athletes doesn’t just bring in their money, but also their unique perspectives and expertise: Diversity leads tohigher revenue and better decision-making. As major women’s sports’ revenue is set to cross the billion-dollar threshold in 2024, the venture capital space should continue to recruit women athletes as investors.


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