Oct 24, 2022 - News

Austin women's sports facing challenges

Illustration of a roller skate with a wheel clamp or boot on the front right wheel.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A start-up women's roller derby team in Austin is having trouble finding an audience, sponsors ā€” or even a rink in which to play.

Why it matters: Violet Crown Roller Derby's challenges mirror those of an array of women's sports teams in Austin ā€” and even nationally.

Catch up quick: Roller derby is an elbows-out, fast-paced sport in which two roller skating teams make a mad scramble around a track.

After practicing in Austin-area parks during the height of the pandemic, Violet Crown won the bronze medal at this USA Roller Sports national championships held in Waco over the summer.

Yes, but: The team's founder, Jazzelynn Daigle, says VCRD might not even have a rink to play in next season.

Between the lines: She says women sports teams have trouble generating the revenue required to rent field, court or rink space.

  • The Austin Outlaws (a women's football team), the ATX Torch (a women's ultimate frisbee team), and the Austin Elite (a women's soccer team) all struggle to lure fans in numbers equal to their male counterparts.

What they're saying: Daigle blames the hurdles faced by women's teams on misogyny and bad timing.

  • When it comes to women sports, audiences have historically wanted the athletes to "show some leg and have sex appeal," Daigle says.
  • ā€‹ā€‹"If you look at the comments put on the stories of the most accomplished women's athletes, a lot of people just hate to see women be successful."

Zoom out: Average attendance at University of Texas men's basketball home games during the 2021-22 season was 12,398.

  • For the women's team it was 3,523.
  • Meanwhile, Formula 1's all-women's W Series, which was set to host its final three races of the 2022 season at Austin's Circuit of the Americas, was canceled due to financial issues.

What's next: Violet Crown Roller Derby is searching anywhere within 75 miles of Austin for a rink that can host its practices and matches.

The bottom line: "I'm not comfortable inviting another team to travel to Austin because we might not have a 2023 season."


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