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Role models or unwomanly? The big divide in women's sports

06/26/2015 12:00 EDT | Updated 06/25/2016 05:59 EDT
With Canada set to face England in the World Cup quarterfinals Saturday, and good portion of the Canadian population feeling FIFA fever, the Angus Reid Institute has jumped on the women's sport bandwagon publishing a survey called 'Good Role Models' or Unwomanly"? Canadian views on gender, sport and the Women's World Cup

Interesting and conflicted

What it reveals is an interesting, albeit slightly conflicted snapshot of Canadian attitudes towards women's sports. For instance:

- 90 per cent of people surveyed agree that women athletes are great role models for girls, but 33 percent say some sports are "unwomanly"

- 73 per cent feel that not enough media attention is paid to women's sports, but 49 per cent feel people are generally not interested in watching women play sports

- Females age 18 - 34 are the largest population group that feel people are not interested in watching women's sports (59%)

More following FIFA than CFL

How does the Women's World Cup stack up against other sports in terms of fan interest? Well it seems:

- roughly one-third (31 per cent) of Canadians say they are following the women's world cup. That's less than those who follow the NHL (40 per cent), but more than follow the CFL (21 per cent), MLB (18 per cent), NFL (17 per cent and MLS (seven per cent) 

Soccer is for everyone, hockey is for men

Soccer and swimming were the top choices when respondents were asked to pick a sport they'd like their own child to play:

- For eight-year-old girls: swimming (48 per cent), soccer (32 per cent), gymnastics (29 per cent) 

- For eight-year-old boys: soccer (40 per cent), swimming (39 per cent), hockey (38 per cent)

Interestingly, the data reveals an attitude in Canada that 'soccer is for everyone, but hockey is still a man's game'. 

- 12 per cent identified hockey as a sport for girls versus 38 per cent for boys

Angus Reid senior Vice President Sachi Kurl says overall there is "room to be optimistic" in Canada because the survey shows a general level of support for girls and women in sports.

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