The future of girls and women in sports is now.
Advocates are embracing the 37th anniversary of celebrating girls and women in sports by addressing members of Congress. Current female athletes may have a difficult time understanding why Congress matters to their sport.
It’s only been five decades since Title IX was authorized, which marked the beginning of a paradigm shift of looking at females as academic and athletic performers.
The Women’s Sports Foundation is “uniting champion athletes, coaches, leaders and women’s sports advocates” on Capitol Hill today. They are taking part in congressional meetings and holding a briefing to discuss the connection between well-being and sport participation for girls and women, and policy items needed to advance gender equity in sports, according to Yahoo Finance.
A recent foundation report, ’50 Years of Title IX: We’re Not Done Yet,’ released in 2022, showed that girls’ participation in high school sports is nearly 12 times higher than it was in 1972, yet girls still miss out on an estimated 1 million sport opportunities at the high school level compared to boys, Yahoo reported.
Another report published today, ‘The Healing Power of Sport: COVID-19 and Girls’ Participation, Health and Achievement’ found declines in sport participation during the pandemic have further exacerbated the gender inequity in sport, especially for those most marginalized.
Here are a few highlights:
- Teen sports’ participation declined from 76 percent in 2019-2020 to 70 percent in 2021, a loss of 1 million sport participants in U.S. high schools
- Girls who continued to play beyond 2020 reported higher levels of self-esteem, lower levels of loneliness and depression and had a more positive self-perception of their academic achievement goals
“We have seen remarkable strides in girls’ and women’s sports participation since NGWSD began 37 years ago, but as WSF’s latest research shows, the declines in sport participation triggered by COVID-19 could have profound generational impacts unless we advocate for immediate action,” foundation CEO Danette Leighton said in a statement. “We are in our nation’s capital to work with lawmakers, leaders and allies, to help ensure that girls and women have equal and equitable access to sports. Title IX helped open many doors, but there’s still more work to do.”
Elite female athletes participating in this year’s event include, WSF President and 3x Olympic medalist in ice hockey, Meghan Duggan; Olympic gold medalist in track & field, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley; Athletes Unlimited athlete and former Team USA softball player, Courtney Gano; 2x Paralympic medalist in swimming, Sophia Herzog-Gibb; Paralympic bronze medalist in swimming, Anna Johannes; 2x Olympic gold medalist in basketball, Angel McCoughtry; Hall of Fame Women’s Basketball Coach, Muffet McGraw; and former NWSL Washington Spirit player, Gaby Vincent. Several will be participating in today’s Capitol Hill briefing, sharing their own unique Title IX and athletic experience to highlight the need to build on the landmark law. The briefing will be livestreamed on WSF’s YouTube channel at 1:45 p.m. ET.
?About National Girls & Women in Sports Day
National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) began in 1987 as a special day in our nation’s capital to recognize women’s sports. The day united premiere organizations and elite female athletes to bring national attention to the promise of girls and women in sports. In 1987, NGWSD also served as a remembrance of Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman for her athletic achievements and dedication to promoting equality for women’s sports; Hyman died of Marfan’s Syndrome in 1986. NGWSD has since evolved into an event to acknowledge the accomplishments of female athletes, the positive influence of sports participation and the continuing struggle for equality for women in sports. NGWSD is powered by the Women’s Sports Foundation, supported by its team of champion athletes and celebrated throughout the year by schools and community-serving organizations across all 50 states.