The Chicago Sky parade in their hometown after their championship victory

The Chicago Sky: The Quiet Champions of the Windy City

The Chicago Sky: The Quiet Champions of the Windy City

Over decades, we have seen some of Chicago’s sports teams win it all. The streets flood  with jerseys as the Cubs or Blackhawks parade their way through one of the largest cities in  America. It has been five years since one of those moments happened, up until this recent  women’s basketball season when the Chicago Sky earned the 2021 WNBA Championship title.  Yet, if you asked even some of the biggest sport fanatics, they probably wouldn’t even blink an  eye. Some probably wouldn’t know at all. The streets of Chicago were not filled with people,  despite the long period of time since Chicago has had a winning team. This emptiness and  nonchalant nature of this major sporting event has prompted me to wonder how a city this large  could render such a small fanbase? Is the common joke “Would you rather find $5 on the ground  or have your WNBA team win in your city?” not really a joke?  

I remember the very first Chicago Sky game I went to. I was with my oldest brother.  They were giving away “TITLE IX” t-shirts to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the amendment.  I proudly walked around the stadium with the following words on my back:  

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation  in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or  activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 

At that particular game, the halftime show provided some entertainment, typical at most  sporting events. They were throwing various items into the crowd, one of them being mini  basketballs with the team’s logo. One came close to my brother’s grasp but was just too out of 

reach to snag. He shrugged it off and said, “If it was a fly-ball at a White Sox game I would have  reached for it.”  

The statement he made was not surprising to me. I could not be angry or upset for what  he said; we are conditioned in a way that worships professional men’s sports. Catching a fly ball  is a story people tell for decades after it happens. The part that upset me was not what my brother  said, but why he said it. He did not mean it to be sexist or misogynistic. He was not undermining  women’s professional sports. He was simply stating the truth: men’s sports hold a higher  prominence than women’s in society — but why? 

The Chicago Sky’s championship title was far more than just a “big win”— it was  historic. This was the first championship title for the Chicago WNBA team. A sold-out stadium  and an incredible performance by a group of strong, female athletes should have allotted for an  intense amount of media coverage. That was not the case. My brother and one singular male  friend reached out to me about this monumental moment in Chicago sports.  

The small number of people that were aware of this cannot be blamed purely on the fact  that people didn’t tune in and follow the Sky. Plenty of people watch only a handful of Chicago  Bulls games during the season, but most could tell you whether or not they won the night before  after scrolling on Twitter for less than five minutes. It is not that people are poor at following  women’s teams — there is simply a lack of coverage. Unfortunately, this is very common in  women’s sports.  

A 2021 study noted that 80% of the coverage they watched did not include female  athletes at all. Most clips are under a minute long and are washed beneath the men’s sports  coverage. Despite the fact that men’s and women’s professional sports are in their own separate  leagues, female athletes are still women working in a male-dominated field. The umbrella of 

professional sports includes both men and women, but the light shines on one far more than the  other. The lack of representation and understanding of the caliber at which these women play is  overlooked. It is the same as female CEOs of large companies. This is their job, and they are not  receiving the credit they deserve for it. These women are playing at the highest level and are still  considered less talented or worthy of exposure than their male counterparts. 

That TITLE IX shirt remained part of my wardrobe until my mom finally said that the  shrunken, stained tee with holes in the armpits “needed to go.” For nearly three years I wore  those words regularly on my back. It was more than a free article of clothing, but a statement I  resonated with. The desire for representation and equality in women’s sports is something that  needs more support. If we continue to ignore the underrepresented field that is women’s sports,  we will continue to see empty streets during historic moments.