Today is Important for Girls and Women Everywhere

As I work on my next long post, I wanted to take a moment to recognize National Girls and Women in Sports Day. I cannot stress enough the role that sports played in developing my physical abilities, self-confidence, competitive spirit and self-esteem. One in three girls now participate in sports. That is an important statistic in combating many of the underlying causes of sexual assault’s prevalence in our society. Below, I am borrowing from the speech of an amazing woman who was an elite athlete, is a leading sports executive running espnW, and who has been a mentor and friend I greatly value.

“In 1995 – NIKE Women created an amazing TV spot that struck a nerve with a lot of young athletes. The spot was written by Janet Champ. Check it out on YouTube.

From the mouth of young girls, the copy read:

  • “If you let me play sports, I will like myself more;
    I will have more self-confidence,
  • I will be 60 percent less likely to get breast cancer;
  • If you let me play sports, I will suffer less depression.
    I will be more likely to leave a man who beats me.
  • If you let me play sports, I will be less likely to get pregnant before I want to
    I will learn what it means to be strong.
    If you let me play sports.”

Athletes everywhere were fired up. I know I was.

But Nike wasn’t the first in recognizing the advent of the woman athlete:  More than a century and a half ago, Walt Whitman predicted the coming of a race of “fierce and athletic girls”

  • who “are not one jot less than I am,/
  • They are tann’d in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,/
  • Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,/
  • They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike, retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,/
  • They are ultimate in their own right — they are calm, clear, well-possess’d of themselves.”

Let’s work hard to continue to develop “firece and athletic girls” so that we can eradicate sexual assault – the most disgusting of ways to exert power and control over women.

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