February 6, 2013 was the 27th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD). This celebration was a way for thousands of sports educators, coaches, athletic directors, recreation directors, association members, sponsors, students, and parents across the country to show their support of the year’s theme: “Girls in Sports, An Investment in the Future.” Boys and Men are often looked at as the “all-stars of sports”, however, girls and women also have many physical activity and sporting accomplishments such as breaking records, showing skills and a mental drive, and doing things that no one has ever done before. The year’s theme was the perfect opportunity to showcase this.
NGWSD is celebrated in all 50 states with community-based events, award ceremonies, and activities honoring the achievements and encouraging participation of girls and women in sports. NGWSD began in 1987 as a day to remember Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman for her athletic achievements and her work to assure equality for women’s sports. Hyman died of Marfan’s Syndrome in 1986 while competing in a volleyball tournament in Japan. Since that time, NGWSD has evolved into a day to acknowledge the past and recognize current sports achievements, the positive influence of sports participation, and the continuing struggle for equality and access for women in sports.
There are many ways of promoting girls’ and women’s sports, the following is a list of some of the ways we can take action as individuals and as a community:
1. Buy a basketball, glove, soccer ball or other sport gift for your favorite sportsgirl – send her the message that you think she can play sports.
2. Take your friends and family to a women’s sports event – high school, college, or professional sports.
3. Watch a women’s sports program on television and call the station to thank them for carrying women’s sports (so they’ll continue to air women’s sports programs).
4. Write a letter to your local newspaper editor either asking them for fairer coverage of women’s sports or thanking them for great coverage.
5. Buy women’s collegiate and professional sports merchandise like t-shirts and hats. It’s an important way to advance the economic success of your favorite team.
6. Take someone who has never attended a women’s sports event to a high school, college, or professional women’s sports game. Introduce others to the excitement of women’s sports.
7. Visit your local sports retail store. If they are not carrying licensed merchandise for your favorite women’s sports team (college, WNBA, WUSA, etc.), write to the manager to tell him or her you want to purchase this product and you would appreciate it if they would carry it. If they are carrying the product, thank them for doing so.
8. Write to sponsors of women’s sports to tell them how much you appreciate their support of women’s sports.
9. Conduct a sports clinic for local elementary school girls.
10. Grade your school on whether it is treating male and female athletes equally. Write a letter to the principal either asking for change or applauding the school’s commitment to girls’ sports.
Change happens one person at a time, one act at a time. Without change, there would be unequal opportunities in regards to boys’ and men’s sports in comparison to girls’ and women’s sports. Everyone can make a difference, and I found this to be a perfect opportunity to make a difference.