Last week, Adweek released a list of the 30 most powerful women in sports. This is the first time the outlet has compiled a list of the best of the best, and it did not disappoint.
Besides female athletes, the list showcases the women behind-the-scenes, the ones that make the policies and help make blockbuster trades possible. From tennis powerhouse Serena Williams to Kim Ng, the senior VP of baseball operations in the MLB, these women have dominated in their respective field, setting the tone for the future.
Upon first glance, it is evident that this list is somewhat diverse. Out of the 30 women total, 10 of them are ethnic minorities. Among them are Lisa Borders, the current president of the WNBA, and Pamela El, the chief marketing officer of the NBA.
However, one thing that immediately sticks out is the lack of women as CEOs or commissioners. On a list of 30, there are just two CEOs and one college basketball commissioner included, which proves there are (baby) steps being taken to change this. Katrina Adams is the CEO and president of the United States Tennis Association. Lesa France Kennedy is the CEO of International Speedway Corp. Val Ackerman, who was the inaugural president of the WNBA in 1996, is now the commissioner of the Big East basketball conference. That is not discrediting these ladies for their phenomenal work, but will there ever be a day when a woman can be the next Roger Goodell, Adam Silver, or Rob Manfred?
Perhaps one of their daughters could take over, similar to the way Jeanie Buss and Stephanie McMahon have. Jeanie Buss and her five siblings inherited the Los Angeles Lakers from their late father, Jerry, but she is still considered the franchise’s “most powerful executive”. Stephanie McMahon is currently the chief brand officer for the WWE, following in the footsteps of her father, CEO Vince McMahon.
An enlightening direction shown by the list is the growing presence of women in marketing and branding. The NFL along with brands like Gatorade and Dick’s Sporting Goods are brands that have catered to mostly men in the past, but having a woman at the helm takes marketing to a different, more inclusive level.
The NFL made the wise decision to bring in Dawn Hudson as their CMO in the midst of their domestic violence woes in 2014. Since then, the league has started their “No More” and “Football is Family” campaigns, even though some fans would disagree and say football is not family-oriented. Additionally, Under Armour senior VP Adrienne Lofton is a fundamental reason the company is ranked second in sportswear brands. The “Rule Yourself” campaign featured reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry and ballet dancer Misty Copeland as they pushed themselves through their training. A combination of rising shoe sales and Lofton’s vision are responsible for Under Armour’s 30 percent increase in sales since the start of 2016.
Women leading the charge in sports media are also important additions to the list. ESPN’s Hannah Storm and Erin Andrews of FOX Sports have received immense credit for their achievements, but still, there is not a single minority woman in sports broadcasting mentioned. This is also something that could easily change with time, as more women of color become prevalent on television and make waves.
The Player’s Tribune co-founder Jaymee Messler began the company with Derek Jeter, but the outlet has continued to rise in popularity as Kobe Bryant announced his retirement and Kevin Durant wrote about his free agency decision.
Other than Serena Williams, race car driver Danica Patrick, UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, and WNBA player Breanna Stewart appear on the list for their talents as both athletes and businesswomen. Williams is currently locked into a 5-year, $40 million endorsement deal with Nike, as well as Gatorade and Wilson. Patrick has appeared in commercials for GoDaddy.com, which can be seen most notably during the Super Bowl. Stewart is fresh out of UCONN and has already signed a deal with Nike while Rousey has hosted Saturday Night Live.
In its entirety, I am impressed with this extraordinary list of women. It’s refreshing to see women of all aspects of sports highlighted and praised, since many of them are behind-the-scenes and often remain nameless.
There are women relatively high up the chain, but how much longer will it take for one to be the commander in chief of a league? By looking at this list, that day appears closer than we think.
Kayla Solomon is a new contributor to AllSportsEverything.com. She attends Temple University for nine months out of the year, but will be here in New York all summer! Follow Kayla on Twitter at @dontKAYme, Instagram at @kayla_nyree. Also, find her writing weekly on blackaphillyated.com and on her personal blog, dearfuturekay.wordpress.com.