British women make sports history

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Imagine if the record for the biggest crowd to ever watch a hockey game live in person in Canada was set not by an NHL team, not by Canada’s men’s team at at the Olympics, but by our national women’s hockey team.

That incredible feat was set this past Sunday when England’s “Lionessess” stunned the heavily favoured Germans to win the UEFA Women’s Cup. More than 87,000 soccer-crazed fans jammed Wembely Stadium, making it the biggest audience in European Soccer Championship history, men’s or women’s.

Let that sink in. Europeans love their soccer in the same passionate way we love our hockey. Think about all the soccer-centric countries in Europe. Italy, France, Spain, Sweden, Norway; heck every country on that continent is in love with soccer. Despite all that love and all that passion and all that great history of men’s soccer, it was the women’s championship that drew the largest crowd in European history.

And yet in a way, it shouldn’t be that stunning at all that the biggest audience soccer-mad Europe has ever seen was for a women’s championship and not a men’s.

There are several examples where women’s sports are more enjoyable to watch than men’s.

Soccer is a classic example, not just in England but here in North America as well. Our women’s national team is the defending Olympic champions and if they played a big game on Canadian soil, it could easily have the biggest audience in our nation’s history.

The U.S. national women’s soccer consistently outdraws their male counterparts.

Take tennis for another example. In the men’s game it’s not much more than serve and volley. Every guy has a cannon for a serve and there is precious little actual tennis that is played because there are so many aces. It’s such a power game on the men’s side that there isn’t nearly as much strategy and tactics as on the women’s side.

Then there’s hockey. Some of most exciting hockey games I’ve ever seen have been between our national women’s team and their arch-rival Americans.

To that you can add track and field, swimming, volleyball, rugby and so much more.

Last week Brooke Henderson won her second golf major, the most ever by any Canadian golfer of either gender.

It’s not like it’s a competition for which gender plays in front of the bigger live audience; the simple point is that we are mercifully long past the point in society where women’s sport is considered inferior to men.

“Playing like a girl” used to be a derogatory phrase. Now it’s a badge of honour.

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