Change the Narrative Around Women's Sports
“What’s the equivalent of the four-minute mile for women?” The question was casually thrown out in a group of about ten sports-minded women, a mix of athletes and business leaders. We were all gathered around a big open table inside Oiselle headquarters in Seattle. There was no immediate answer, and the question lingered awkwardly in the air.
“4:40?” Someone said. “4:40 or 4:30?”
Another long pause. “4:30, definitely 4:30.”
There were a few nods, but the long pause and the unfamiliarity with this number, 4:30, tinged the air with sadness. Here we were, a group of avid runners, some with athletic careers spanning more than two decades, including a Division 1 runner and several post-collegiate athletes, and yet the question and the answer felt foreign. How are our own benchmarks so unfamiliar?
On the men’s side, the milestones are easy to call up, featuring names you’ve heard hundreds of times: Roger Bannister, the four-minute mile; the life and death of Steve Prefontaine; the “World’s Fastest Man” and its parade of kings—Lewis, Johnson, Bolt.
Women's sports traditionally focuses on inclusion and community rather than women's talents and strengths. Isn't it time to ask for more? Head to Outside Online to read more about the lack of milestones for female athletes.