The Labyrinth of Exclusion in Sport and Steps Toward Developing a Culture of Inclusion

Nefertiti Walker

I was indoctrinated in all things basketball from the age of three. As soon as I was able to walk, my dad would bring me to his pickup basketball games. I sat on the sidelines watch­ing in amazement, playing with a basketball and anxiously awaiting my turn, which would come just a few years later. I grew up playing basketball, coaching basketball, and training basketball players. Not just women’s basketball players, but men’s basketball players too. I coached men’s basketball play­ers, I played with men in basketball games, and even joined men’s basketball leagues as a young adult. Very early on, I realized that men’s basketball seemed to be valued more by most sport fans. There are significantly more men’s basketball games broadcast on television. Men’s basketball players get paid much higher salaries than women’s basketball players. Even in college basketball, where men’s and women’s basket­ball coaches have almost identical job duties, men’s basket­ball coaches earn significantly more. I understand the basic concept of commercialization, as well as supply and demand. However, the reason for women getting paid less seems to be much more complex than simple economics, and warrants further examination. Bias, sexism, and a host of other gen­der inequity issues collide in a space I like to refer to as the labyrinth of exclusion. Even in occupations where women have a stronghold, like marketing, women leading a sport marketing department in professional men’s sport leagues is rare. 

Open Access