AWSM president Iliana Limón Romero.
June 19, 2024

Will online convention make AWSM even more awesome? 

Dylan Ackerman

The Association For Women in Sports Media (AWSM) annual convention has always been awesome, but its transition to an online format this year may elevate its awesomeness.

The digital convention, the first of its kind since the pandemic, signifies a notable departure from its traditional format, which, over its 36-year history, has traveled to 24 cities.

With AWSM’s rapid growth in both memberships and student chapters, the timing for this transition couldn’t be more opportune. 

“People who had been unable to travel to the convention for years were elated to finally be able to participate,” AWSM President Iliana Limón Romero said. “As opposed to getting a collection of a couple hundred people in person, the digital convention allows us to really open it up to a lot of different people, to cater to a lot of different kinds of speakers, to spread it out over a course of several days and to record these in a way that people who register with us will get an opportunity to have playback.”

Romero spoke with a UCLA student interning in Hong Kong for the summer, who expressed excitement at the opportunity to attend the convention without any hassle–except for the minor inconvenience of setting her alarm.  “We are getting people around the world to participate, which has happened before, but not quite the same level,” Romero said. 

Expanding the reach to more women is commendable, especially considering the convention's primary aim is to foster the advancement and growth of women in sports media through training and networking. 

It was another industry-related issue that prompted the transition. 

“This is really an answer to employers not supporting as many conferences and understanding that it's a lot to ask our members to use their vacation time and to personally pay to come and join us on top of any other vacation they need,” Romero said. “It’s a reality of the industry.”

At a time when women's sports is at an all-time high, one might assume that transitioning online this year could miss the mark. But the move has sparked  conversation about the ongoing challenges and limited opportunities for women despite the surge in interest. 

“The surge in women's sports is not translating to bigger paychecks for our members. It’s not translating to more funds. And it's not translating to anybody paying for their travel,” Romero said. “I can tell you that the overwhelming majority of women who cover women’s sports right now would not have an underwriter to send them to the conference. They would not be able to go in person. We are catching them rather than missing them in this way.”

For those concerned about the convention not being in person until next year, AWSM will stage additional regional events to help compensate for the absence of in-person gatherings.  

By prioritizing regional events, AWSM will consider hosting its convention digital every other year. 

Dylan Ackerman will intern at the Seattle Times this summer.

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