The end of 2022 closed the book on a landmark year in women’s sports, one full of triumph and turmoil.
We’ll always remember the title runs for the Las Vegas Aces, Portland Thorns and South Carolina basketball, among other champions, just as we’ll never forget the reverberations from the NWSL abuse reports and Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia.
As 2023 dawns, though, Just Women’s Sports looks forward, as our writers and editors provide New Year’s resolutions for women’s sports.
Healing and progress
Women’s sports gave us much to celebrate in 2022, but hanging over all the little victories was a resounding heaviness.
The NWSL reckoned with years of systemic abuse and cover-ups, as multiple investigations revealed the power imbalances that allowed coaches to sexually and emotionally harass players. The WNBA, meanwhile, kept Brittney Griner front and center throughout the 2022 season as was wrongfully detained on drug charges in Russia. Both situations reached a resolution in recent months, with the release of two detailed reports on NWSL abuse and Griner’s return home via a prisoner swap. The NWSL has plans in place to support its players and fix the systems that enabled abuse, while Griner said she intends to play for the Mercury in 2023.
The leagues are trending in a positive direction as we head into the new year, but that doesn’t mean the next steps will be easy. Players will cope with their traumas, the leagues will be held accountable to their decisions, and may we all continue to respect their humanity as much as their performances on the field and court. — Hannah Withiam
From both a product and business perspective, women’s sports took a giant step forward last year. The player talent pool and the games themselves are better than ever, and the results are showing in record-setting attendance and viewership numbers. NWSL expansion clubs Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC were living proof of what good investments in women’s sports can look like on the field and off. The NWSL plans to add two more teams by 2024. We’re ready for more.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert recently walked back that league’s timeline for expansion, with the expectation that one team will join the league in 2025 as opposed to up to two in 2024. Expansion has never felt more urgent in the WNBA, as a strict salary cap continues to limit roster spots and preseason becomes synonymous with a revolving door of both waived draft picks and seasoned veterans. As Engelbert referenced, and as we saw with Angel City and San Diego this year, due diligence is required for expansion to be done right. Here’s to hoping the WNBA figures it out before more quality talent is wasted. — HW
More upsets — and the chance to watch them
The 2022 NCAA basketball tournament proved upset central, headlined by No. 10…
Read More: Our New Year’s resolutions for women’s sports 2023-01-01 13:16:19