For the past 31 years in U.S., February 2 has been marked as National Girls & Women in Sports Day. It’s a time to celebrate the accomplishments women have made in sports, while also recognizing that there is still a long way to go before women are equal to men on the playing field.
Sports can play an important role in empowering women. In a society where women are often pitted against each other, sports encourage teamwork and sportsmanship. They make women proud to be strong and proud to see what their bodies can accomplish when pushed to their limits.
“My confidence began when I started playing sports. This is a way for me to teach girls that sports can also change their lives in a big way. In my coaching, I have seen the girls grow tremendously. I feel it’s important to teach them that they can do anything that they set their mind to. It doesn’t matter what you look like, your body type, the color of your skin,” said Amara Mbionwu, a PowerPlay NYC Coach.
One of the greatest accomplishments in women’s sports came in 2015, when the women’s World Cup became the most watched U.S. soccer game in history, beating the men’s 2014 World Cup. Girls around the world glued their eyes to television screens to watch the victory.
Slowly, we are seeing women athletes break down barriers every day; Francisca Ordega is the first African to play in the the top-division women’s soccer league in Australia; Venus Williams is the first tennis player to to complete the Career Golden Slam after turning 30 and Gabby Douglas was the first African-American woman to win the all-around gold medal in gymnastics.
But there is still progress to be made. There are stigmas about women’s sports teams not being as entertaining as their male counterparts, there are places where women are harassed for wanting to participate in sports, and there are women who can’t participate due to lack of sporting equipment and resources, such as sports bras. Elle Magazine outlined some of the unfortunate inequalities in women in sports in an article.
Looking for some more inspiration to start playing a sport? Here is a list of ten history-making athletes. Who knows; maybe your name could be next on the list.
By: Aubrey V Gelpieryn
Editorial Intern, Spring 2017