If You Feel Sidelined in Sports Because You’re a Girl, Keep Playing Like a Girl.

By February 2, 2022General

This blog is dedicated to Simone Biles.

National Girl and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), February 2, 2022, is about breaking gender stereotypes in the mammoth sports industry. Founded by the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1972, it coincides with the 50th anniversary of Title IX (U.S. legislation against sex discrimination that revolutionized women’s sports). NGWSD is a celebration and a call-to-action with so much to discuss already this year, including record-breaking firsts, such as:

  • Rachel Balcovec’s (34) being named the first female manager of a minor league baseball team in the NY Yankees organization, leading the Tampa Tarpons.
  • We celebrate the unprecedented $490 million settlement paid this month to 1,050 former University of Michigan athletes sexually abused by the late Robert Anderson over four decades.

Broken Records, Too

  • The U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team (USWNT) on March 7 will appeal to a California federal court to overturn a 2020 district court decision dismissing their claim against the U.S. Soccer Foundation (USSF) for equal pay.
  • The contracts are structured differently, but when it comes to the World Cup it’s easy to see a jaw-dropping pay gap. In 2018, 32 USMNT players each received a $38 million bonus from USSF, despite not qualifying for the World Cup that year, while 24 USWNT players each received $4 million in 2019 after winning their second straight WC title. USWNT also wins more games and sells more tickets.

Beijing Winter Games, February 4-20

The Beijing Winter Olympic Games begin next week amid Covid crackdowns and political tensions. We look to athletes for daring performances in X categories (Xtreme). Team USA includes 108 women, 114 men and one binary—with alast-minute add, ski jumper Anna Hoffmann, to total 223.

  • American figure skater Alysa Liu will be 16 in Beijing—the youngest-ever U.S. women’s national champion and youngest member of Team USA 2022.
  • Katie Uhlaender, 37, will be the oldest woman on the U.S. team, competing in skeleton (sledding face-down on an ice trail at 80 mph).
  • U.S. aerial skier Ashley Caldwell, 28, is the only woman in history to nail  a quadruple-twisting triple backflip in competition.
  • At the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, American snowboarder Chloe Kim at age 17 became the youngest woman to win an Olympic X snowboarding gold medal, after scoring 98.25—close to a perfect 100. She disappeared to Princeton, but she’s back.

#RefrigeratorMagnetOlympics

What hashtag would you give to girls/moms who compete against themselves? Feel free to submit your ideas! Whatever the winning entry (!), kudos to girls and women who can’t drop everything to career train fulltime but break records, nevertheless. The universe, as they say, loves speed. The universe doesn’t say how much or where.

  • On January 19, Keira D’Amato, a 37-year-old mother endorsed by Nike, ran the Houston Marathon in 2:19:12, breaking Deena Kastor’s London Marathon record set in 2006. D’Amato knew she could do it. She just didn’t know if she could do it when it counted. By winning in the spotlight, she redefined elite running and motherhood over 35.
  • Kathrine Switzer fought from every angle against the ban that once prevented women from running in marathons. Out of conventional ideas, she assumed position at the starting line in 1967 for the Boston Marathon and set a historic precedent by competing anyway.
  • Sister Madonna (born Marie Dorothy) Buder, 86+, is known as the “Iron Nun” because she has finished roughly 400 triathlons and 45 Ironmans—a 2.4-mile swim in the ocean, 112-mile bike ride, and full 26-mile marathon. She’s the face of Nike’s Unlimited Youth x Sister Madonna Buder (2020) video, crediting “The Man Upstairs” as her coach. Sister Buder started running at age 48.

Some women don’t find sports until they’re 50. Some girls start when they’re barely old enough to walk. But many champions are young and fairly powerless in a predatory industry. NGWSD, February 2, reminds us why watchful eyes make the difference between legend and trauma.

Hey, and for the record, if you’re feeling meh, moving for five minutes will make you feel less meh. Sustained movement for 45 minutes can make you feel like flying. The question our team passed around is: How much more do we laugh when we exercise? We think way more. (Don’t laugh!)