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Teaching commitment, teamwork, leadership, cooperation, strength, endurance and many other important qualities, girls and women who participate in sports will attest to the fact that it’s healthy and beneficial in a myriad of ways.

National Girls and Women in Sports Day is here to raise awareness for and act as a reminder about the positive aspects of sports and the continued need to promote gender equality in every way.

History of National Girls and Women in Sports Day

The first National Women in Sports Day was established in 1987 when United States President Ronald Reagan declared the day to be set aside to acknowledge the important part that women play in sports. The original day was set aside particularly to honor the participation of Flo Hyman, a volleyball player who worked hard to advocate for the equality of women in sports. Hyman died suddenly of a genetic disorder while participating in a volleyball tournament in Japan.

Since its origins, National Girls and Women in Sports Day has evolved to recognize all female athletes, whether professional, amateur or simply aspiring. In addition, the day is meant to celebrate the progress that was made when Title IX was passed in 1972, providing equal access to sports for girls in the United States.

Starting out with only women, the name was eventually changed to also include girls, and there are several organizations that make up the coalition behind the day. These include the Women’s Sports Foundation, Girls Inc., The National Women’s Law Center, as well as the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Recognized by schools, colleges, universities and other organizations that promote sports for girls and women, National Girls and Women in Sports Day honors the influence that sports and athletics have on the lives of women. This includes living a healthy and active lifestyle, building self confidence, helping learn how to work on a team and offering opportunities to develop leadership skills.

Sports have a huge positive impact on the lives of women! And National Girls and Women in Sports Day is here to raise awareness for and celebrate this fact while recognizing the women’s struggle for equality, in athletics as well as so many other arenas.

National Girls and Women in Sports Day Timeline

1800s

Women start athletic clubs

Before women were allowed to participate in men’s clubs, they start their own informal clubs to practice sports.[1]

1900

Women first compete in the Olympics

Out of 997 athletes 22 women compete in 5 different sports at the Paris Olympic Games. [2]

1938

First woman plays on PGA tour

Babe Zaharias is the first female to play on the PGA Tour at the Los Angeles Open.[3]

1986

First woman to play in a men’s pro league

Nancy Lieberman plays pro on the men’s United States Basketball League.

2012

Women compete in all Olympic sports

For the first time, women compete in all Olympic sports that men do, as women’s boxing is added.

How to Celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day

An exciting day to show appreciation for and celebrate the women who have worked hard and excelled in their chosen sports, National Girls and Women in Sports Day can be enjoyed with some of these ideas:

Learn More About Women Athletes

One super way to participate in National Girls and Women in Sports Day is to get to know more about some significant women who have blazed a trail in the arena of sports. Check out some of these inspirational women in sports:

  • Babe Didrikson Zaharias

    An amazing athlete, Babe started out in track & field and her medals in the 1932 Olympics made her the only person to ever win medals in running, throwing and jumping events. Later she took up golf, was instrumental in founding the LPGA, and excelled by winning ten major championships. Sadly, she died at age 45 of colon cancer.

  • Wilma Rudolph

    Also a track and field athlete, Rudolph broke through all kinds of barriers (illness, poverty and racism) to become one of the first well-known African American athletes. She competed in two Olympics (1956, 1960), claimed gold and became the first woman to win three track & field golds at a single Olympics.

  • Nadia Comăneci

    This amazing young Romanian woman was a remarkable gymnast in the 1970s and a five time Olympic gold medalist, all in individual events. In 1976, at the age of only 14 years old, she made Olympic history by receiving the first score of 10 ever in her bars exercise.

  • Marta Vieira da Silva

    This inspiring Brazilian soccer player has an amazing record and is simply known as “Marta” to her fans. She’s the only footballer to be honored with the FIFA award for being the best female football player in the world five times in a row – and then a sixth time eight years later!

Support a Young Female Athlete

An excellent idea for celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day might be to start on a local level with a girl athlete in your life. Whether a daughter, granddaughter, neighbor or child of a friend, showing support and encouragement for local female athletes is a worthy cause. Whether it’s attending a soccer match to cheer them on or giving them a ride to gymnastics practice each week, girls need all the support they can get to live up to their potential in the world of sports!

For those adults who are athletically inclined, even slightly, it might be fun to take this as an opportunity to volunteer to coach a girls sports team. Whether it’s girls in little league tee ball, elementary school softball or the high school girls’ volleyball team, coaching sports (or even just helping out) can be a fun adventure that builds community and shows vital support to the women of the future.

Learn About the Benefits of Sports for Girls

Girls and women who participate in sports report various benefits. In addition to leadership and teamwork, girls in sports also may experience:

  • Lower levels of depression

    Physical activity releases endorphins that fight off depression.

  • Stronger bones

    Women athletes may have a reduced risk of osteoporosis compared to women who do not participate in sports.

  • Fewer chronic illnesses

    Girls who participate in sports seem to have better immune systems and are less likely to have chronic illness later in life, like heart disease or diabetes.

  • Healthier menstruation

    Women who participate in sports typically have more regular periods with less cramping and discomfort.

  • Reduced risky behavior

    Teen girls who participate in athletics typically report less cigarette use, alcohol use, and illicit drug use, as well as fewer teen pregnancies.

National Girls and Women in Sports Day FAQs

What is the most popular women’s sport in the world?

All over the globe, the most popular women’s sport is soccer, followed by others such as tennis and basketball.

Why are women paid less in sports?

US soccer has equal gender pay but other sports that draw less revenue pay their players less. [1]

When did women’s sports begin?

In the late 1800s, women began their own informal athletic clubs for tennis, croquet, bowling and more.[2]

What is Title 9 in women’s sports?

Title 9 requires girls and women athletes to be treated equally in educational institutions that receive federal funds. [3]

Who was the first female athlete?

In 1896, a Greek woman unofficially participated in the first modern Olympic Games by running the marathon course the day after the competition. [4]

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