The GIST: COVID-19 continues to have an impact on the sports world, and this weekend, it took out one of its first major international events: the IIHF Women’s World Championship.
No way! Why?: The tournament, which features the top national women’s hockey teams from around the world, was set to take place from March 31st to April 10th in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia. Though Canada hasn’t seen a huge spread of the virus like in other countries, the event organizers decided not to risk it and cancelled the tournament with less than a month to go before puck drop.
- This isn’t the first time this tournament has been cancelled: the Beijing-hosted 2003 event was cancelled due to the SARS outbreak. The IIHF has said that, pending IIHF Congress approval, the 2021 tournament will be held in Halifax and Truro.
Brutal! How are the North American professional leagues dealing?: The NHL will continue to play games with fans in attendance for the foreseeable future and have a contingency plan (which could affect playoffs) to roll out if needed. They’ve asked players to limit contact with fans and are considering closing locker rooms to the media, which, TBH, players are probably happy about anyway.
- Meanwhile, the NBA will decide by end of day tomorrow what their plan will be in the event of a pandemic (though we already know LeBron’s plans). And while the NFL is currently in the off-season, the NFL Draft, set for April 23rd to 25th in Las Vegas, will go on, in spite of predicting a significant decrease in the expected 750,000-person crowd.
Yikes. Anything else?: A few more cancellations (you can find a running list here), including the alpine skiing World Cup finals in Northern Italy, where American skiing queen Mikaela Shiffrin was supposed to make a return after missing a month, and the Arctic Winter Games, which were scheduled to start on March 15th and feature over 2,000 international athletes.
- The Summer Olympics are still a go (for now, anyway) but the torch lighting ceremony, which will bring the Olympic flame from Athens, Greece, to Tokyo, Japan, has been downsized. We’re really hoping, for so many reasons, that the Games remain unaffected. There are still four months to go, so wash your hands and cross your fingers!
The GIST: With all the winning our Canadians are doing in winter sports, we’re not sure we want the season to end (just kidding, we miss the heat!).
Tell me all about it: This weekend, Canadian snowboarding superstar Mark McMorris became the most decorated X Games athlete of all time, winning his 19th medal after claiming gold in the men’s snowboard Big Air event in Norway. The 25-year-old, who once thought he may never return to the sport following a catastrophic accident in 2017, topped American “Flying Tomato” Shaun White on the all-time medal board. Thatta boy!
- And McMorris wasn’t the only Canadian on the podium. Standing next to him in second place was Max Parrot (pronounced PEH-ROH) — who made his own epic comeback after being diagnosed with cancer in 2018 — and Darcy Sharpe who won bronze to round out the all-Canadian podium. In yesterday’s snowboard slopestyle final, Parrot won gold while McMorris won silver, extending his record to 20 X Games medals. O’ freaking Canada, indeed.
Amazing! Who else won?: Our girl, speed skater Ivanie Blondin, made yet another appearance on the podium (two weeks in a row, NBD), winning the ISU World Cup Mass Start title. And of course the world’s most accomplished moguls skier, Mikael Kingsbury, couldn’t be left out of the fun: this weekend he won his ninth consecutive (!!!) Crystal Globe (the World Cup title for men’s dual moguls). Domination station.
Awesome! Is that all?: No way, Jose! Team Gushue won the Tim Hortons Brier! The men’s Canadian curling championship ended last night with Brad Gushue and the boys from Newfoundland and Labrador facing off against Team Alberta, led by skip Brendan Bottcher. The final ended with a 7–3 win for Gushue, marking the team’s third Brier win in four years. Nice!
⚽Progress begets progress
Most importantly, 2019 and 2020 have provided us with MAJOR moments when it comes to fighting for gender equity in sports.
- Something special is happening today. NBCSN in the US and Sportsnet in Canada are each airing an NHL game with an all-female broadcast team. This is a huge step in the right direction, especially if it isn’t just an IWD thing. We hope it leads to more women producing and broadcasting hockey (and all sports) always.
- This email would be incomplete without giving a standing ovation to the US women’s national soccer team (USWNT). For years, they’ve been on the forefront of pushing gender equity in soccer. And most recently, they’ve been making incredible strides in a highly-publicized legal battle against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) for fair pay.
- On top of that, players like Megan Rapinoe have not only inspired some pretty awesome Halloween costumes, but have also inspired women around the world to take a stand for equality.
- In January, the WNBA and its players’ union made
historyherstory, when they set the terms of a groundbreaking new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that significantly benefited the players.
- Among other things, the CBA included an increase in salary, added bonuses for top players, guaranteed fully paid maternity leave, better travel conditions and mental health resources. It was so refreshing to see a league partner with its players and bet on its women, setting a new standard for other leagues to follow.
- In November 2019, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty took home a cool $4.42M USD winner’s cheque — the largest winner’s cheque in tennis history — after winning the WTA Finals. Huge kudos to tennis for being on the forefront of gender-pay equity. Incredible.
- Getting back to soccer, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup saw a record viewership of 1.12 billion (!!!) viewers. Who said people don’t watch women’s sports?
That’s #thegist of the incredible 14 months women in sports have had. We keep on breaking barriers, smashing ceilings, and doing our absolute best to level the playing field. And if the beginning of 2020 is any indication of the progress that will be made for the remainder of the year, we are in for an absolute treat.
🏈Who run the world?
From agents to coaches, 2019 and 2020 proved that women indisputably have a place on the bench and behind the scenes in sports.
- Let’s start with Baylor Lady Bears college head coach (and fashionista) Kim Mulkey. In February 2020, she became the fastest D1 basketball coach — as you know by now, male or female — to reach 600 wins. And get this, she did it in just 700 games.
- Now let’s switch gears and talk football. At the beginning of February 2020, the Washington who must not be named’s hired Jennifer King as an assistant coach, which made her the first full-time Black female coach in the NFL. ’Bout time, no?
- Sticking with the NFL, despite her San Francisco 49ers squad losing the Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs, offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers became the first woman and openly gay coach in Super Bowl history.
- Baseball also got in on the fun. In January 2020, Alyssa Nakken was hired by the San Francisco Giants as the first female full-time coach in MLB history. Hey batter, batter, batter.
- ICYMI the NHL is expanding to Seattle in October and we’re already big fans of the franchise. In September 2019, they hired former Team USA captain, gold medalist and Hockey Hall of Famer Cami Granato as one of the team’s full-time scouts, making her the first female pro-scout in NHL history.
🤸Breaking records and taking names
t’s been a stellar 14 months for women on the field and the fans supporting them. Our favorite moments?
- We can’t have an IWD email and not talk about college basketball player Sabrina Ionescu (pronounced YOH-NESS-COO). Just last month, this Oregon Duck senior solidified herself as the best collegiate basketball athlete of all time when she became the first NCAA player — yes male or female — to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. What, like it’s hard?
- And then there’s Christine Sinclair. At the end of January 2020, this humble and tenacious leader of the Canadian women’s national soccer team (CANWNT) became the all-time leading goal scorer — again, male or female — in international soccer history. Forget “Bend it like Beckham,” let’s “Bend it like Sinclair.”
- Women’s hockey also got in on the fun. For the final game of the Rivalry Series between Team USA and Team Canada, a record 13,320 fans filled the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, the most for a U.S. women’s hockey game played on home soil.
- How could we talk about women killing it and not talk about American gymnast Simone Biles? In October 2019, Biles became the most decorated gymnast — we repeat, male or female — at the World Championships winning an all-time record of 25 world medals, including 19 golds. Just imagine what her trophy case looks like.