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Shout-Outs for More Diversity - Sport in Transition

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Exclusion? Without us! We show how sport is breaking down encrusted structures, fighting for gender equality and giving marginalized minorities a voice. From big brands like Adidas or Riot Games giving women room to breathe, to a TV world premiere at the Paralympics, to a diverse cycling team becoming perennial winners.


U.S. women soccer players reach Equal Pay milestone

For six years, the USA women's national soccer team fought for equal pay with their male counterparts. On February 22, 2022, the breakthrough finally followed! The U.S. women and the U.S. Soccer Federation reached an out-of-court settlement. The federation will pay out 22 million dollars to the national players and set up an additional fund of two million dollars to support the players after their active career and for projects related to women's soccer. In addition, the federation has committed to paying men and women the same in the future, for example in World Cup bonuses.


"The most important thing for our generation is to know that we're going to leave soccer in a much better state than we found it," said U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe. "That's what it's all about because, to be honest, there's no justice if we don't make sure this never happens again."


Adidas increasingly promotes women in sports

At Adidas, 2022 is all about women: And that starts with its own products, which feature women-specific innovations. For example, the women's models of the new Ultraboost 22 address instep height, heel construction and stride cycle. In addition, new sports bras with a completely new approach are to be launched in 2022.

In addition, Adidas is strengthening its commitment to women's sports at the professional level as a sponsor of the UEFA Women's Champions League or the Women's European Championship 2022, among others. But women's and girls' sports are also to be further promoted in amateur and junior sports with additional Breaking Barriers Academies in Europe.

The Adidas campaign "Impossible is nothing" also focuses on diversity in 2022 under the slogan "I'm possible": four women from different sports with the most diverse backgrounds form the team of gamechangers on the pitch.

There's Tifanny Abreu, for example, who is the first trans athlete ever to compete in Brazil's top women's volleyball league. She previously played in the men's league in Brazil, Portugal, Spain and France, among other countries. Also part of the campaign is Jessamyn Stanley, yoga teacher and body positivity activist, who as a queer, overweight and black person shows how time-honored the Western image of a yogi still is in many places.

Also in attendance is Ellie Goldstein. The British woman with Down syndrome has been modeling since she was 15 and was the first disabled person to become an advertising face for Gucci.


A diverse cycling team comes up trumps

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When it comes to diversity, professional cycling still has some catching up to do: Not even one percent of all participants in the World Tour were black in 2020 and 2021. Just one black rider, Kevin Reza, took part in the 2020 Tour de France. Justin Williams wants to change that. The former professional rider, who competed for the U.S. and Belize, has teamed up with his brother, Cory, to start his own team for African-American and Latino cycling talent in Los Angeles in 2019.

"There are a lot of privileged guys in cycling who are more interested in being friends than winning races," Williams said of the situation in professional cycling. "I tell a lot of my sponsors that if the sport doesn't change, there's no way I can tell a kid who grows up in a situation I grew up in to devote their life to cycling with a clear conscience."

L39ION of Los Angeles is the name of the professional team with which the Williams brothers hope to advance diversity and inclusion in cycling. Of the 17 team members in the 2021 season, eight were non-white men and three were women. Meanwhile, L39ION has attracted high-profile partners in Red Bull, Rapha and e-bike brand Zwift. This is also because the team won 75 races in the 2021 season and has long been a big name in North American cycling.


eSports: Riot Games gives marginalized genders leeway

Women are no longer exceptions in gaming: almost half of the global video game community are now women or girls. But they are still underrepresented in the eSports sector. According to the BBC, not a single woman made the list of the top 300 earners in competitive gaming in 2021. Add to that toxic communities and assaultive comments in chats and voice chats.

Now, eSports game developer Riot Games is addressing this with its Valorant Game Changers initiative, providing a safe environment for marginalized genders to make the leap into professional gaming. The initiative hosts its own competition series in the popular team shooter Valorant. This will allow marginalized talent to compete unmolested in the popular game, which is played by around 12 million people worldwide every month, in the Game Changer Series alongside professional tournaments.

Vera Wienkens, Senior Brand Manager at Riot Games, expects this to provide new impetus: "It is very important to us that the community is actually represented in eSports, among our professional players, coaches and managers. That's why we founded Game Changers and hope that eSports will become more diverse overall in the future."


WNBA: An entire league as a shining example

While the NFL was recently rocked by a lawsuit filed by ex-coach Brian Flores over allegations of racial discrimination, another U.S. professional league is making completely different headlines. The WNBA women's basketball league has long been a role model when it comes to diversity.

In the annual diversity report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, the WNBA has ranked first among professional sports leagues in ethnic and gender equity hiring practices every year since 2004. In addition, the league actively supports women players in its social justice, mental health and LGBTQ+ community visibility initiatives.

The League, through its own Social Justice Council, also supports diversity and inclusion programs, including anti-discrimination training and voter registration initiatives.


Women in US sports journalism: ESPN sets an example

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Women are still underrepresented in sports journalism. For example, at the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) sports news agency, not even 20 percent of the staff are women. To be sure, the number of women in sports media has doubled since 2006, according to The Institute For Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES). But change has been slow. In its 2021 Sports Media Racial & Gender Report, TIDES still gives the worst grade in terms of gender diversity.

The largest U.S. sports network, ESPN, set an example for faster change on Feb. 9: The broadcast of the NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and the Utah Jazz featured only women in front of and behind the camera. From commentators Beth Mowins, Doris Burke and Lisa Salters to graphic designers, producers and sound engineers behind the scenes.


TV station relies on inclusive crew for Paralympics

After the Olympic Games is before the Paralympics. These will take place in Beijing from March 4 to 13. The TV station Channel 4 is broadcasting the games for people with physical disabilities in the UK - and is putting a big exclamation mark on inclusion: the entire team in front of the camera during the Paralympics will consist of presenters and experts with physical disabilities. The broadcaster describes this as a world premiere at a major sporting event.

For example, wheelchair basketball player Ade Adepitan will lead a daily highlight show. Paralympic triathlete Lauren Steadman and paraplegic former professional rugby player Ed Jackson will take over the breakfast show. They will be joined by Paralympic swimmer Ellie Robinson, British racing driver Billy Monger and former sit-skier Sean Rose as experts.

Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee, praised the move as a milestone: "This latest landmark decision is important because representation matters. Over 15 percent of people in the UK have a disability, and they should be able to turn on the TV and see ordinary people with disabilities like them on camera. That's a change that starts with sports."

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