Stanford softball hopes popularity of sport rises amid massive ratings jump across women's sports

Women's sports have skyrocketed in popularity in the last year. Just last month, the women's NCAA college basketball tournament smashed previous TV viewership records. Now, Stanford's softball team hopes to carry on that torch. 

Jessica Allister, who has been Stanford's head coach for the last six years, is leading her fifth-ranked Cardinal into their last regular season series of the year, with the Pac 12 tournament and Women's College World Series not far off. She called this an unbelievable time to be a female athlete. 

TV viewership of women's sports is at an all-time high, cherry topped by an unprecedented 103% jump in viewership for the NCAA Women's College Basketball tournament just last month. 

The question is: Can softball follow suit? 

"They say there's two kinds of fans. Fans and fans that haven't watched softball yet," said Allister.  "I believe that in women's sports."

Across all platforms last post season, viewership of the Womens College World Series fell. The sport was also dropped from the 2024 Olympics, though it will be back in 2028 for the games in Los Angeles.

Allister thinks the key to growing the game is simple.


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Build it and they'll come. 

"As they build stadiums with bigger capacity and more people can come see games, I think that's a big piece of it," Allister said. "You're starting to see programs invest in their women's softball stadiums."

Before fighting for larger capacity at Stanford, her focus is on this squad and seeing just how deep of a postseason run they can make. 

"I feel an obligation to fight for the young women on my roster and take great care of them," Allister said. "If that means knocking on a lot of doors to make sure they're getting the resources to be successful, that's not something I'm scared of."