Starting from childhood, sports serve as an outlet for young girls, and a place for them to develop healthy relationships — with themselves, coaches, and their peers. But statistics sadly show that this, for many girls, is short-lived as they often don’t continue through young adulthood.
You’re likely already aware of the massive gaps that exist when comparing women’s sports to men’s sports — pay, media coverage, the number of opportunities in general, the list goes on. We still have a long way to go as far as achieving true equality in sports.Here are 12 ways to help us achieve this goal by supporting women in sports.
Sports have an overwhelming positive impact on the lives of girls and women. Studies show girls and women who play sports experience better academic performance, employment, and health.
Sports can even instill the exceptional work ethic, drive, teamwork, and people & leadership skills that equip women for influential non-sports careers. For example, research on women C-suite executives reveals that 94% played sports in some capacity, and 52% played at the university level or higher.
Unfortunately, there are several obstacles standing between female athletes and their ability to pursue a passion for sports and to reap the benefits that follow.
Girls and women don’t get the same athletic opportunities, incentives, exposure, or mentorship as male athletes. For instance, only 28% of youth sports coaches are women, and women’s sports represent just 4% of sports media coverage in the U.S.
These examples are part of a bigger inequality problem, one that leads girls to be twice as likely as boys to drop out of sports by age 14, letting go of the benefits that come with being a woman in sports.
Changing that statistic is up to us.
You don’t need a position on an athletic organization governing body to make a difference. Fixing discrimination against women in sports will continue to happen from the ground up until we achieve more equality at the top.
Ask around and search online for local sports or athletic mentoring programs for girls and women in your area.
Boys and Girls Clubs of America make it easy to search for a club near you to get involved in sports and recreation for ages 6–16+.
Many neighborhoods also have a community center or YMCA nearby, which is a great place to start. Find out how to volunteer, work, or advocate for female athletic programs — or ask how you can help create one.
Does your town or city have any intramural sports or after-school athletic programs for girls or women? If there’s nothing available, help get things started by partnering with parents, schools, local businesses, and the town to fundraise and apply for a grant.
Check out your school district’s website to see what girls’ sports and activities your schools have and look for ways to lend a hand.
Donors give a lot of money to college athletic departments, but almost all of that money goes to schools that already boast top-performing teams.
Share the wealth if you can. Donate to your alma mater’s athletic department or a small school in your area to improve access to enriching college athletic opportunities for women.
There are several ways to make a difference within your own community.
Maybe your goal is to start a booster club for a junior or senior high school girls’ team. Perhaps you’re interested in creating a new girls’ club, school, or intramural sport, or perhaps a mentorship or after-school program.
Regardless, prepare yourself for the logistics involved, such as research and planning, funding and budgeting, state regulations, partnerships, organization, and policies.
Reach out and network with people who have experience with this type of undertaking. Find resources online to help you understand and execute the ins and outs of starting a club or program.
Depending on how much time and expertise you have, coaching a sport is a supremely rewarding and direct way to help girls and women embrace their skill, confidence, and purpose. While they learn the sport, you’ll learn a lot too.
If you’re active on social media, you have a great opportunity to connect teammates, their friends and families, and the community.
Starting, running, or following local teams’ social media pages makes it easy to fundraise, organize events, encourage attendance, cheer on female athletes for their achievements, and drum up excitement for games.
Are you a talented photographer or videographer? Put your abilities to good use by capturing local female athletes in action to celebrate their shining moments.
Keeping track of stats at local women’s and girls’ games can help players and coaches improve through insight into individual and collective strengths and weaknesses.
Whether you’re bringing water and oranges to girls’ little league games or running the refreshments booth for the high school team, this simple gesture means a lot.
Once you prove a clean driving record and background check, many girls and their families will be overjoyed to have assistance carpooling to and from games, events, and practices. It might make a huge difference for someone who otherwise would’ve been forced to quit.
This one applies to every level, from local and college teams to pro and elite sports. Buy tickets for women’s sports and wear branded gear to cheer on your team and your favorite players. When women’s sports are on TV, be sure to tune in or throw a watch party to get your family and friends interested.
Use your voice on social media to support girls and women playing sports — your daughter, your niece, your best friend, or your idol among influential female athletes. And if you or someone you know owns a small business, think about sponsoring a club or a team.
You can always find a cause relating to women and athletics that you’re passionate about. Whether you donate, promote, or support from behind the scenes, your contribution goes a long way.
Alongside founder Billie Jean King, the Women’s Sports Foundation has sought sports opportunities for women and girls ”through research, advocacy, community impact, and partnerships” since 1974. Volunteer for their projects and share them online.
The International Olympic Committee’s Women in Sport Commission backs up women and sports by increasing participation, developing projects and skills, and reporting on and advocating for well-being and rights for women and girls. Check out their gender equality reports, news, projects, and guidelines, and look them up on LinkedIn.
Since 1994, WSI has worked for “increased opportunities and positive change for women and girls at all levels of involvement in sport and physical activity.” Look into their resources and initiatives, share their news stories on social media, and sign up to become a member.
This NBA initiative enables women and girls to “connect, collaborate, and actively engage with one another through the game of basketball.” Get the toolkit to facilitate their curriculum, explore their practice plans, and learn about the importance of female coaches.
Champion Women is a “non-profit organization that provides legal advocacy for girls and women in sports.” Skim through their library of social media graphics to share, look up schools’ gender equality ratings, sign up for the newsletter, and donate to their cause.
While assisting patients and families in need of marrow and cord blood donations, the Mia Hamm Foundation also promotes “opportunities for young women in sports.“ You can follow the foundation on Facebook and Twitter, donate, or contact them to take part in their mission.
Galvanize by Laura Okmin teams up with women “through boot camps, virtual camps and continued connectivity all year round” for networking and professional development on the business and media side of the sports industry. Sign up for a boot camp, watch or listen to their content.
Olympic track medalist Alysia Montaño co-founded &Mother to provide “direct individual support of athletes who are mothers” and to battle maternity discrimination against women. You can donate, connect on Instagram or Twitter, and browse their professional resources.
At Goal Five, we believe in the power of women and girls, and we aim to help them harness that power through sports. We strive to make that happen for girls of every race and socioeconomic status through initiatives, donating profits and products, and global partnerships with organizations including Moving the Goalposts and Soccer Without Borders.
Did we give you any new ideas to get involved and further womens’ sports rights? Are you already working to make a difference? How? What do you plan to do next? Tell us on Instagram @goalfive, and consider joining our advocacy for Equal Play.
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