Deep Dive

The future of women’s sports with Fielding Kidd Jamieson

Published on
March 12, 2024
Matthew Gira
Subscribe to the newsletter
Woohoo! Thanks for signing up.
Check your inbox please :)
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Try again!

As someone who’s a diehard Detroit sports fan, it’s been pretty easy to notice that Caitlin Clark would be a great add to the Detroit Pistons at this point.

If you don’t know, the Pistons play basketball and are historically awful this year.

Caitlin Clark, on the other hand, is incredible at basketball and just broke the NCAA all time women’s scoring record.

It’s been all over the headlines and Caitlin Clark, for good reason, has been right in the news cycle alongside the NBA all star game.

To understand the future of women sports and what innovations are happening in it, I had the privledge to talking to Fielding Kidd Jamieson, who has been at the forefront of all of this.

Fielding was a college athlete at Yale, ended up finding her way to helping to lead innovation at NBCUniversal and Comcast, and most recently, was a Managing Director at R/GA Ventures where she led a venture studio that was focused on women & sports.

Fielding’s passion for this space is incredibly noticeable and one of the things I appreciate about her.

Thankfully, you get to see that passion in this interview:

Here are some snippets from my conversation with Fielding Kidd Jamieson:

Note: these answers are summaries and are cleaned up to be easier to read. Full answers can be found in the full episode!

Before you entered this work and even stepped foot on Yale’s campus, did you have any early influences that set you on this trajectory towards entrepreneurship & innovation?

I don't think my pathway necessarily lent itself to being an entrepreneur or being in the startup world, but as I look back, I think actually being an athlete helped me. A lot of times when you're an athlete, there was a a saying that a lot of coaches will say to you throughout your career: never settle.

The idea is that you are always striving to be better at something that you are doing. When I got to the professional workforce, I brought that mentality with me and especially working at NBC Universal, which was my first job.

I just kept being drawn to this idea of doing things differently. That led me to looking at emerging technology. That then led me to looking at new platforms and services that led me to just the idea of, again, finding people that were doing things differently.

That of course led me to the startup world.

The growth of women sports is here. The WNBA had over 20 percent growth in viewership. Bay FC, one of the newest teams in the National Women’s Soccer League, just had $125 million invested into it, and personally, in a very good way, I feel like Caitlin Clark is on my social feeds at least once a week by what she’s doing at Iowa. From your perspective, what is the future of women’s sports? Why is the future exciting?

There's a couple of things. For me, I am a mom of two young boys, and the future that I see is that they never know that there was a stigma with women's sports and being a women athlete. They never know that. Women sports were never given the same investment media attention sold equally to their male counterparts. They will just not know that world, right?

They will know a world where we treat athletes regardless of their gender as athletes and honor those successes.

The growth that we're seeing in women’s sports is incredible and we’re still at the very beginning of it all.

A lot of us that are in this space are constantly saying, “how do we make sure this is not a blip?” This cannot be a blip in the media radar. We have to continue the growth and what are we all collectively doing about that? I sit in these amazing rooms with incredible men and women who are talking about how do we continue this investment?

What's been fantastic is that we've seen incredible investment pour in at the top. We've seen investment happening at the league level and the team level. We're seeing real investors come into the games. These are not family organizations. These are real investors who are looking for real returns.

In order to make sure that we are giving them those real returns and to encourage the market to do what it does best, which is reward and then reinvest, we also need to invest in the rest of the infrastructure.

In women's sports people say often, “oh, they have an opportunity to do it differently. They're not tied to legacy media rights.” The problem is when you then look at the options for where women's sports can get media, technology, and apparel partners, a lot of that actually hasn't changed.

Currently, it is a lot of the same people that are holding up men's sports organizations that are also holding up women's sports. As a result, there’s a lot of change that could still happen.

If you wanna talk about real change? You wanna talk about real growth, you wanna talk about real dollars back?

The biggest, the best investment, the biggest growth opportunity right now is women's sports. So that's what's excites me. There's dollars starting to come in. We need more dollars, we need more media deals, we need more streaming services to step up, and we're continuing to see that. The trajectory looks very promising.

Are there any types of ventures or projects within this space of women’s sports where you think to yourself, “ oh, this will be the future”?

I'm biased a little bit obviously to the companies that I've worked with and to the ones that I'm really close with. There's a couple of leaders in this space. One I'm repping now, Angel City FC. I They just completely changed the game for the better.

They were so inclusive from the get go. Just in terms of raising capital to invest in the team, it's incredible how many people they have on their cap table.

They wanted all these people to come together; individuals, pro athletes, family offices, etc. When you create that type of cap table, people really feel like they're a part of something. Then everyone's talking about it and the buzz is starting. Before Angel City even touched the field, they were the number one NWSL team that was being talked about.

Then you look at media companies like The Gist. They started off doing a newsletter about sports that was focused on more of a female audience, but I'll also just say casual fan audience. They spoke to fans, casual fans in a way that you could digest what was going on in sports.

Knowing sports and being able to talk sports, that's social currency. For a very long time, women have been left out of those conversations because they weren't keeping up. It's kind of the old school like chat around the water cooler. The Gist wanted to change that. They've done an incredible job and they've amassed an amazingly loyal audience because women are very loyal.

Another one is Ida, they produced the first women's soccer cleat.

Let's let that sink in. It is 2024 and they started only in 2017. I grew up playing soccer and I thought I was buying a women's cleat, and it turns out I was buying a cleat that was solely designed and based on a man. It was pink it and shrink it.

Ida has torn that apart and they have redesigned the shoe from the ground up solely based on women's physiology.