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North American women’s leagues form new SheIS project

Eight leading sports organisations from across North America have joined forces on a new initiative designed to increase each other’s resources, viewership and attendance, as well as attract new players to female sports.

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Women’s Pro Fastpitch League, the US Tennis Association and Canadian Women’s Hockey League are among the organisations to have committed to ‘SheIS’.

A statement on the SheIS website pledges to use “the power of women’s sport to create a future of, by, and for strong women”. A public service announcement promoting the initiative is also due to air for the first time later today (Tuesday).

WNBA president Lisa Borders told the Associated Press news agency that the commissioner of each league involved in the project has agreed to come to each other’s events as a show of solidarity across women’s sport.

“Women have to support women before you ask other people to support you,” Borders said. “I’ll buy a ticket to a hockey game in Canada or a fastpitch softball game.”

Brenda Andress, commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, said she first come up with the idea for a joint, female-focused initiative last year and quickly gained the support of her counterparts at other organisations.

Andress said: “This collective sports voice has never been heard. I wanted to create some type of program or challenge to bring women together that was born out of positivity.

“So I thought of SheIS. When I thought of myself, she is a grandmother with young kids. She is a commissioner. She is a hockey player. She is anything she wants to be. That’s where SheIS came from.”

Andress also said she expects other sports such as football, gymnastics, swimming, cycling and running to join the movement, while the initiative also stretches to entertainment sports, with the WWE wrestling series committed.

Andress said: “We have to do it together. Let’s do it, but let’s do it right. It’s going to be professional, top notch. It’s about us as females recognising we can bring the fans not just to hockey, but to the WNBA. Tennis needs more eyes on the TV. It’s not about everyone else making the difference for us, but us making the difference for ourselves.”