"It's time to add the 'M,'" said Canadian soccer star Christine Sinclair in a new video released by the YWCA on Thursday.
She, along with other influencers such as Sportsnet's Tara Slone, is helping spread the message of a new campaign that asks a simple question: "Ever wonder why men's sports are just called 'sports' but women's sports are called 'women's sports?'"
That video was launched as part of a larger campaign called "Add the M," which is looking to draw greater awareness to the inherent inequity seen between men's and women's professional sports leagues.
The campaign takes specific aim at four of the biggest sports — hockey, basketball, soccer and golf — that have men's and women's professional leagues by adding an "M" to the front of the NHL, NBA, MLS and PGA logos.
“Without the M, men’s sports leagues are treated as the default for all sports, automatically leaving women out of the conversation," Sinclair said in a statement. "It’s hard to fight for equality, when all of women’s sports are treated as an afterthought."
Spearheaded by Amy Juschka, the YWCA Vancouver branch's director of communications and advocacy, Add the M came about as she was listening to an interview with Canada Soccer's president Nick Bontis.
"When he was asked about the fact that there was no professional (soccer) league for women in Canada, his rationale was that Canada Soccer had never sought out or attracted the level of investment that's needed to have a league for women.
"And I just thought that is so bad and such a tragedy for all of these girls about their worth, their value as athletes."
After doing research into professional women's sports leagues, Juschka thinks she found the heart of the problem.
"The way that it turns from an idea to action is thinking about what is a visible way to show how women are isolated in sports," she said.
"And, really, it's the 'W' that is before the acronym."
Thus, came the idea to mock up existing professional sports league's logos like the NHL's, changing it to the MNHL.
The YWCA is a non-profit organization with a focus on empowerment, leadership and rights of women and girls in more than 100 countries.
Using this network, the Add the M campaign is hoping to leave a big impression, even at the risk of getting into a little trouble.
"They are trademarked, yes," Juschka said of the logos being spoofed. "We think that this really is just a fun opportunity for us to be able to show in a very visual way inequity in sport."
"Gender inequity in sport is a systemic issue. There are so many examples. Everything from pay inequity, to lack of representation, to lack of role models."
This inequity, Juschka said, leads to young girls leaving sport.
"One in three girls drop out of sports in their late teens, compared to just one in 10 boys," she said in a press release. "Girls are losing out on all the advantages sport provides as they move into adulthood — from health and wellness, to leadership development, to the support of a team.".
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2022.
Steven Loung, The Canadian Press