These athletes have eight Olympic gold medals, four WNBA Championship titles and two World Cup wins between them, but Alex Morgan, Chloe Kim, Simone Manuel and Sue Bird noticed something they're lacking.
It’s actually something the entire world lacks — adequate coverage of women in sports.
But rather than simply complain about it, this quartet of athletic icons from soccer, snowboarding, swimming and basketball decided to team up together to find a solution. As such, they’ve formed a media platform called Togethxr, and it’s devoted to highlighting stories of women and girls in the sporting world who aren’t getting the attention their skills merit.
“It was really simple,” the 31-year-old told TODAY’s Dylan Dreyer Monday. “I thought ... ‘There is just not enough coverage in general in women's sports.'"
It’s something that Manuel, as a Black Olympic swimmer, noticed long before that.
“Most of my inspiration came from Venus and Serena Williams,” the 24-year-old said of the tennis greats. “As you know, swimming with Black people is just not common, and so I didn't really see that representation, especially on the women's side. And my hope is that I'm doing that for other young girls.”
Bird, 40, felt the same way growing up.
“I mean, it was impossible to find women's basketball players on TV,” she said. “I think we're just trying to create a lot of those see-it/be-it moments now for the younger generations.”
But “see it” is still the tricky part. As Dylan noted on the the 3rd hour of TODAY, despite increased opportunities for female athletes and more standout players than ever before, women still only account for about 4% of sports coverage. And this is an industry in which visibility means money, thanks to sponsorships and product endorsement opportunities — some of which never materialize for women athletes.
“For a lot of female athletes, that is part of the life, having to go find 'a second job' or try to fulfill those financial needs in other ways, even though they are elite in what they do,” Bird continued. “To not be treated as elite, when you are, is really frustrating. So, you know, this mission is to change all that.”
That’s why Togethxr has a broad mission in uplifting women in sports. It isn’t just about giving a platform to the rising talents already out there. It’s about increasing exposure of those talents in order to fuel the next generation of women in sports ... and the one after that.
“As women athletes, we want to inspire women and young girls, we want to make them feel like they belong, that they're important — that they're valued,” Manuel explained. “So I think our legacy is really just to build something great to inspire women, inspire everyone to celebrate women and really just, you know, inspire others to do the same.”
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: