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Social Justice Series: Equity and Opportunity in Women’s Sports

Social Justice Series: Equity and Opportunity in Women’s Sports

Canterbury’s final Social Justice Series session of 2024 last week brought a strong message to students about the challenges women athletes still face today and how that may be changing. DEIJ Dean and Theology Teacher Sydney Feeney sat down with accomplished journalist and sports analyst Terrika Foster-Brasby to discuss the current state of women’s sports and Title IX, the federal law that bans discrimination against women in education.

A multimedia journalist, sideline reporter for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, and women's basketball influencer with experience covering various professional sports, Terrika has reported on many of the top female athletes and stories in women’s sports today. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, she attended Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she played softball and volleyball. An injury made her realize that if she was going to pursue a career in sports, it was not going to be on a field or court. 

“I understood that the best way I could contribute to sports was to talk about it,” Terrika shared. “So from there, I started writing, blogging, and doing internet and radio shows to get equipped for and learn more about sports media. When I applied for ESPN, I thought I had no real experience to offer—but little did I realize that by doing all these things, I was gaining experience. I started at ESPN in December of 2014.” Most recently, she accepted a position as WNBA Analyst and On-Air Talent at CBS Sports.

Long an avid fan of women’s sports, Terrika was 12 when the WNBA started in 1996, and that was a big deal for her and many other young female athletes at the time. “We all were dreaming to be the first girl to play in the NBA; then we did not have to because the WNBA existed,” she recalled. “But it was easy to see that the girls were still not getting the same things the boys were getting—not only the money but the marketing, exposure, fanbase, and coverage. I wanted to help fix that and level the playing field.”

Throughout her career, Terrika has certainly been doing her part to bring awareness to the disparities women athletes face. To fully grasp these issues, she said, it is important to understand the difference between equality and equity. “Too often people think women in sports want to be paid exactly what the men are getting, but they are not necessarily asking for equal pay; they are asking for the same pay equity,” she explained. “These are smart women. They know the WNBA does not generate the same income as the NBA. The goal is to tighten the wage gap by providing equity in the percentage of revenue and the amount of marketability and accessibility.”

There is cause for optimism, said Terrika. “You were recently able to turn on ABC and see the NCAA women’s basketball national championship. That has not always been the case,” she explained. “We are now in the era of marketability. We see a Caitlin Clark, an Angel Reese; we see MiLaysia Fulwiley, Kamilla Cardoso, and A’ja Wilson. All these women athletes are now out there. We can see their faces and names on products and in commercials. These are the things that can help turn the tide a bit, but there is still a long way to go.”

Her words hit home with the audience, particularly young students hoping to compete in college sports one day. “The points Terrika made were very relatable to me,” said Girls’ Varsity Basketball player Kacie Darrin ’27. “Even today, there remains an imbalance between women’s and men’s sports that can be improved.” Kacie’s teammate, Team Captain Calleigh Boord ’26, agreed. “I found her presentation extremely moving and motivating, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to experience it,” she said.

Terrika also offered pointed advice to aspiring college athletes. “Number one, make sure that your grades are on point. A student-athlete is just that—student-athlete. You must have the grades and develop good study habits,” she shared. “The second thing is to make sure whatever it is that you are doing in college beyond playing a sport is something you really love. No matter how great an athlete you are, you want to think of a future outside of sports. Sports can help you build connections, develop relationships, and set yourself up for success. Just keep an open mind. Be open to change because that other thing out there just might be your thing.”