NetWorks Sports Industry News – Girls Who Run the World (Sports World, that is)!

Girls Who Run the World (or Sports World)
Written by Angela Taylor

This goes out to all my girls
That’s in the club rocking the latest
Who will buy it for themselves and get more money later

Who Run the World? Girls!

This goes out to all the women getting it in,
Get on your grind
To the other men who respect what I do
Please accept my shine

Well, there’s no doubt that Beyonce Knowles is certainly one of the entertainers who is running the world these days as is evidenced by her latest hit song (lyrics listed above) Girls Who Run the World.

Hope Solo

Following in her footsteps, it seems like several female athletes have taken Beyonce’s lyrics to heart and are trying to put their own stamp on the sports world.

While the sports industry remains a male-dominated industry and the support for women’s sports (team & individual) is modest at best (but growing), a few women have leveraged their athletic skills to demonstrate their marketability, which may eventually allow them capitalize financially.

The summer of 2011 has seen two injured stars re-acquaint themselves with the winner’s podium (Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova), a young hoops star captivate the attention of the best to have ever played (Maya Moore & MJ), a tennis star captivate a country (Li Na), and a team (USWNT) compel Americans to actually enjoy watching more than one soccer game in a week.

As a result, corporate marketing departments are opening up their vaults to a group of athletes who had only seen modest endorsements opportunities in the recent past.  Now, not to get ahead of ourselves, because the market & ability for female athletes to garner the eight figure endorsements that their brethren make is no where near, but we are making progress.

Here are a few of those individuals who are leading the charge and dancing to the beat of Beyonce’s hit song.

Maya Moore

In May, the #1 Draft Pick in the WNBA Draft, Maya Moore, signed an endorsement deal with Brand Jordan.  Moore, handpicked by Michael Jordan and his Brand Jordan team, was the 1st women’s basketball player to sign on to the brand.  That fact didn’t go unnoticed around basketball circles.  The WNBA and Maya’s representatives are hoping that such a commitment from the legend himself will provide her with an extraordinary platform to build her brand on a global basis.

Women’s tennis has had a huge boost to its portfolio, as the Top 3 highest earning female athletes (according to Forbes) are all tennis players.  The top earner is Maria Sharapova who, it is estimated, earns approximately $24 million per year in endorsements & prize money.  Serena Williams, who is reportedly #3 on the list, is making a bit of a comeback on the tennis circuit after missing a year due to multiple medical issues.  She recently won the championship at the Bank of the West Tournament in Stanford, CA, which could propel her back to the top of the tennis world and certainly carve into that ranking over 100.

The person who recently leapfrogged Serena to take the #2 spot of the list of highest earners is Li Na, who after winning the French Open earlier this summer has had her phone ringing off the hook with endorsement opportunities.  According to her agent Max Eisenbud (also Sharapova’s agent), she has signed 7 deals worth about $42 million over the life of the deals.  These deals include contracts with Mercedes-Benz & Taikang Life Insurance Co.

Yani Tseng

Then there’s newcomer & relatively unknown, Yani Tseng the 22 year-old Taiwanese golfer who has quickly burst on the scene in what is promising to be one of the most dominant golf careers (male or female) that we’ve seen in decades.  With her recent victory at the British Open (winning that title for the second straight year), etched her name in the history books as the youngest golfer – male or female – to win 5 majors. These praises had been reserved for Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam, and Michelle Wie.

But probably the biggest story to follow will be Hope Solo’s.  In her two weeks since the Women’s World Cup Final loss to Japan, Solo was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, has driven the pace car at the Brickyard 400, has been on what has seemed like a continuous media tour, had her Twitter followers multiply 30x, and secured multi-year endorsement deals with companies Gatorade and Bank of America.

Solo’s teammates, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, have also capitalized on the momentum.

Undoubtedly, more stars will shine as we are a little over a year from the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  The Olympics always has a way of generating a few household names.  Maybe even putting them on boxes of Wheaties…just ask Mary Lou Retton!

All in all, this is certainly good news for women’s sports.  The added attention & increased dollars being spent marketing these athletes should help to bolster attention & support for their sports here in the United States and around the world.

Who runs the world…for the time being, these five girls (or women) are doing their best to make sure that future generations of female athletes will have the chance to take their talents to the biggest stages in sports!


Follow NetWorks Sports on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports and Angela Taylor @AFTaylor22