With a nod to Beyoncé's female empowerment anthem “Run the World (Girls),” let it be known: Women run the sports world. This is not up for debate — there are plenty of receipts, overwhelming evidence to support my Bey-appropriated lyrics.

Records have been smashed in this new season of excitement about women’s sports. Last year, for example, the U.S. soccer team’s match against the Netherlands was watched by 6.4 million people in America — the highest English-language viewership of a single match.

It was a surprising uptick given the National Research Group’s 2022 survey which revealed that 79% of sports fans said they didn’t actively watch women’s sports, although that same study shows people consuming more than they did five years ago.

But as the wildly popular recent women’s March Madness competitions showed, enthusiasm about women’s sports has steadily grown to unprecedented levels. Even I — who typically has no interest in sports — got caught up in the fan fervor.

Nobody could have predicted this year’s huge increase in TV ratings, with 121% more people watching than last year’s women’s tournament. About 18.7 million watched the face-off between LSU’s champion player Angel Reese and her competitor, Iowa’s once-in-a-generation scorer Caitlin Clark.

That game drew the highest viewership on record, but it also helped catapult overall viewership into the stratosphere. Ticket prices for the women’s games surged, with the Final Four prices surpassing the men’s. Sports betting totals blew past the numbers reserved for the Super Bowl.

I gleefully cheered on the young women players who dominated the games and the conversation as they became household names, so popular that NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” parodied the admission by many fans that they had a hard time recalling the names of the March Madness male players.

For the last eight years, ESPN did not allow fans to attend the broadcast the WNBA draft. But this year, they shrewdly decided to capitalize on the women’s fandom for last week’s glitzy event. Fans lined up outside New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music hoping to witness the Indiana Fever choose Clark as the number-one draft pick, and the other stars of the season go on to professional glory. Millions tuned in to watch, shattering yet another record.

But I couldn’t help fuming about the disrespect women athletes still endure.

I was still wrapped in the warm afterglow of the sisterhood on display at the draft ceremony when Nike revealed its women’s track and field Olympic uniforms, some of which left nothing to the imagination. Seriously, Nike?

The company’s official explanation tried to brush over the sexism by claiming the most offensive outfit was just one choice of offered uniforms. And sadly, the draft also amplified the huge pay gap between the record-breaking women athletes and their male counterparts, whose names are still a mystery to most of us.

One analyst calculated that Clark’s designer outfit for the draft ceremony equaled 22% of her $76,000 first-year salary. Of course, her current endorsements total upwards of $3 million, but most of the WNBA professionals will earn far less.

It took a protracted legal battle before the national women’s soccer team finally won pay parity. The WNBA and its newest players deserve nothing less.