Last Sunday’s FIFA Women’s World Cup shattered TV ratings for soccer. Not women’s soccer, just straight up soccer. No qualifier needed. Just over 25 million Americans tuned in to watch the US Women’s victory over Japan. Add in the roughly 1.3 million watching on Telemundo — the largest-ever audience for a women’s soccer match on a Spanish-language network — and Sunday’s match attracted 26.7 million viewers in the States. That’s comparable to the number of eyes on last month’s Game 6 of the NBA finals (23 million). And it’s in the same ballpark as the 2014 World Series’ Game 7, which attracted 23.5 million viewers nationwide.
Maria Shriver tweeted a photo of her son Patrick Schwarzenegger and his friends watching the final match with the caption: ‘Guys cheering women’s soccer. So happy I’m alive 2 see’. And Maria is right, it’s heart swelling to witness the support these powerful women are getting. To see men gathered around the TV screens cheering on women like Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan. Cheering for their blood, sweat and tears. Cheering for their talent and hard work. It’s a welcome contrast to what women are normally applauded for on TV. You know, beauty, boobs and booty.
There’s no doubt about it, we’ve come a long way. But, as far as we’ve come, there are still miles to go. Although the number of viewers the FIFA World Cup pulled in – 1 billion worldwide – would suggest otherwise, the playing field is far from level. In fact, according to a new study done by USC and Purdue University, there is actually less media coverage of women in sports today than there was 25 years ago. In 2014, only 3.2% of network television coverage was given to women’s sports. This disparity sends a very clear message to girls – when it comes to sports, they just don’t matter.
This is damaging to women on every level. Countless studies have proven a direct connection between sports and overall success. Girls who play sports have lower teen pregnancy rates, better grades and higher self esteem. With those kinds of benefits getting girls excited about playing sports is a no brainer. And considering the link between sports and empowerment it’s no exaggeration to call this a feminist issue.
That’s why we are so stoked about Amazon’s new show for tweens, ‘The Kicks’. A live-action dramedy adapted from soccer superstar (both an Olympic gold medallist and now World Cup winner) Alex Morgan’s best-selling book series, it’s a show for kids and tweens about sports, friends and family. With a strong female at the center as a role model and a positive message it’s got the power to influence a generation of kids.
From the first voiceover ‘The Kicks’ distinguishes itself as a different kind of children’s show. As the opening credits roll 12-year-old Devin Burke tells you her ‘words to live by’: “I don’t need a crown; I have a headband. I don’t wear high heels; I use cleats. I don’t dance in a ballroom; I run on a field. I am not a princess; I am a soccer beast.”
We have nothing against princesses, or crowns, but it’s clearly time to celebrate a new female archetype and ‘The Kicks’ and Amazon, are stepping up to the plate. Not only does the show have a brilliant message, it’s also grounded and authentic. It portrays three-dimensional characters with real emotions. And the parents are present, involved, and supportive. It’s got heart, minus the cheese kids shows often serve up. We are way, way, past the demographic and it pulled us right in.
‘The Kicks’ is the kind of show we wish had been around when we were tweens. Instead we had to make do with shows like ‘Clueless’, where the only sport the girls played was shopping. It’s high time girls were encouraged to excel at more than just getting a black belt at the mall. That’s why we’re urging you to check out this show and share it with the girls – and boys – in your life.
If you like it take a minute to let Amazon know that you want them to keep it on the air. The first episode is on-line which you can watch here for free until July 25, 2015. Watch it then rate it and review it so Amazon knows this is the kind of content we want shaping our world. As Alex Morgan says, let’s encourage as many girls as possible to “believe in themselves, and follow their dreams.”
If you can’t wait for years to see the USWNT dominate the world stage again, take a look at a sneak preview of ‘The Kicks’ below: