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Parting Shot: The Future of Sports is Female

Former Sports Board Co-Chair Alex Wilson '24.
Former Sports Board Co-Chair Alex Wilson '24. By Courtesy of Alex N. Wilson

In September 2019, I walked into 14 Plympton Street for my first-ever meeting with the Sports Board. I was practically giddy with excitement; of all of the things I wanted to do during my time at Harvard, being a member of The Crimson was at the very top of my list. As the former sports editor of my high school paper and an ex-high school athlete looking for an outlet, I hoped that Crimson Sports would become a place I could call home.

The excitement escalated to anxiety on the day of the meeting, but upon getting to know the board’s writers, my trepidation dissolved almost immediately. They were thoughtful, talented, fun, and truly cared about our mission as sports reporters. Under the distinguished tutelage of Amir Mamdani ’20-22 and Eamon McLoughlin ’21, the comp process provided a steady stream of banter and wisdom. At initiation, I read out a woefully constructed limerick that may have been objectively unfunny, yet everyone laughed. It was at this moment that I knew I would like it here. Once I actually joined the board, chair emeritus Will Boggs ’22 managed the team with care and became an invaluable mentor to me. I took on the crew beat and did what I could with it as all NCAA sports were called off the following calendar year, all the while working collaboratively with a great team.

When I became Sports Chair in January 2022 alongside my wonderful co-chair Griffin Wong ’24, many of us suspected that I was the first woman to hold the position. After all, very few women were on the board when I joined. Upon sifting through Crimson archives, however, we found that I was actually the fifth woman in the past 30 years – or 60 chairs – to assume the role. I did not take it lightly; aside from the obvious goals of ramping up post-Covid production and facilitating The Crimson’s transition toward a “digital-first” future, we strove to change the demographics of the Sports Board with the hope of creating far greater gender balance.

It was a tall order, but what happened over the course of the next two semesters surpassed my wildest expectations. Female compers slowly poured into the comp process and became involved in the organization. Now, as of this spring, the board had 19 female editors and 19 male editors. This change in demographic goes all the way to the top; in the two guards of chairs and comp directors elected after mine and Griffin’s term, four of the eight were female (shout out Mairead Baker ’24, Katharine Forst ’25, Caroline Gage ’25, and Nadia Fairfax ’26!). This is an unprecedented leadership shift in the board’s history, and it has been incredible to witness and take part in.

In parallel, we can see a similar trend in the broader sports landscape as women’s sports everywhere are surging in popularity. This evolution is reflected more broadly in collegiate and professional leagues and in media coverage. For instance, between 2018 and 2022, media coverage of women’s sports nearly tripled. In 2023, viewership of the NFL among teenage girls went up by 53% (thank you, Taylor). This year, more people are watching Caitlin Clark than the MLB. At the University of Nebraska, 92,000 fans packed the football stadium to watch women’s volleyball, making it the most attended women’s sporting event ever. The WNBA just had the most-watched season in its history. This year also marks the Professional Women’s Hockey League’s first-ever season. Women’s sports are gaining momentum across the globe, and it is absolutely thrilling to watch.

This is a precious moment in history in which it has become clear that there is a market—and even a hunger—for women’s sports. When they get the respect they deserve, we all benefit. As the tides change in women’s sports, The Crimson must stay the course in its active pursuit of equitable reporting. We have made significant progress in this regard; let’s keep it up and continue to evolve as the world does.

—Alexandra N. Wilson ’24 was the co-chair of the Crimson’s Sports Board during the 149th Guard. She can be reached at alexandra.wilson@thecrimson.com or @alex_wilson2023 on Twitter.

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