RECORDS fall, especially for women. The world and the fans gave its support, but reminders persisted of gains yet to be made.

Nowhere was this progress more apparent than in women's sports. More than 92,000 fans filled the University of Nebraska's football stadium to watch a women's collegiate volleyball match, setting a global mark for the largest attendance at any women's sporting event.

THE 64 Women's World Cup matches in Australia and New Zealand drew a record of 1,997, 824 fans for an average of about  31,000 per game, nearly 10,000 more than the average attendance at the matches in 2019 tournament in France.

And the women's  International Cricket Council's T20 World Cup in South Africa became the most-watched women's cricket event, with 192 million hours of viewership.

Will these blockbuster events result in more fans filling the stands consistently?

'' Every change in consciousness in society starts with lightning in a bottle,'' said Daniel Wann, a psychology professor at Murray State University in Kentucky who studies sports fandom. '' You just don't know until a few months or a few years down the road.''

The growth is coming, with more  professional women's teams in soccer and basketball, franchise valuations soaring, more sponsorship deals and better competition.

The consulting firm Deloitte released a report in November that predicted the revenue from elite women's sports in 2024 would surpass $1 billion, up 300 percent from its 2021 forecast, citing the Women's World Cup as a catalyst.

Australia, which hosted the final between Spain and England, engaged a new generation of fans and athletes, much like the U.S. women's national soccer team did en route to winning the 1999 World Cup in Pasadena, Calif.

'' I don't think this was once-in-a-life time,'' Sam Kerr, the Australia captain and one of the world's top players, said after her team lost to England in a World Cup semifinal.

The Australian team, known as the Matildas, had played before a sold-out-crowd of 75, 784 in Sydney. '' If you bring the product to the show, we've proven people will come out and support it.''

Although a ragged U.S. team lost in the round of 16, that gave space to other squads to emerge. Underdog Colombia advanced to the quarterfinals, the Reggae Girlz of Jamaica knocked out power house Brazil and the Lionesses of England captured their nation's attention on the way to the final.

In Berlin in September, Tigst Assefa of Ethiopia broke the women's marathon record by more than two minutes, with a time of 2:11:53.

Quite a prologue to Paris. There, the 2024  Summer Olympics are expected to have the same number of women as men athletes for the first time. With 2023 as a guide, records may fall.

The World Students Society thanks Liz Robbins.


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