Female Athletes Spread Encouragement for Girls in Sports

Christina Korn and Allison Korn

Women and girls have often been separated into the category of ‘unfit’ for sports. They haven’t always gotten the same opportunities in playing sports as boys and men, either at a young age or as adults. Women also tend to have a lower success rate. Due to fewer opportunities, women’s sports has been downplayed, not drawing as much attention. This is mainly because TV channels advertise men’s sports more than women’s sports, leading to men bringing in more revenue and TV ratings, and consequently getting men to be paid more.

Many sports have very little to no women recognition. American football has been a predominantly male sport, up until recently when more women have been starting to play the sport, along with more women being accepted into the football community. Sarah Fuller became the first woman to ever play in a Power 5 football game on November 28th, 2020. Fuller played for Vanderbilt and was asked to substitute for their kicker when he tested positive for COVID-19 at the last minute. Fuller is also a goalkeeper for Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team. Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Thank you, Sarah, for helping to prove that women and girls belong on every playing field.” Sarah Fuller has continued to inspire the younger generation of girls by continuing to kick for the men’s Vanderbilt Commodores.

One of the largest manifestations of inequality in sports is the gender pay gap. Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, along with many other players on the US Women’s National Soccer Team, filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation about the tremendous gap between the women’s and men’s team’s salaries. The players mentioned in the lawsuit, “the federation has stubbornly refused to treat its female employees who are members of the women’s national team equally to its male employees. The lawsuit is new, but the fight for equality on the field has been years in the making.” In the same article, the interviewer Norah O’Donnell asks, “Do you believe that the women’s team has been undermarketed and that has had a huge effect?” Morgan replied, “Yes … That’s one of the cases that we have in our fight, and that’s a very important thing moving forward. And I don’t think that’s only us—I think that’s women’s sports all around.”

Maya Moore is another very successful female athlete who is fighting for equality and injustices all across the board. She has focused a big part of her career on prison equality and trying to fight for those with no voice. She recently took two seasons off from the WNBA to help an African American man who was wrongfully convicted at the age of 16. Similar to Moore, a powerful female athlete who has made a difference on and off the court is Serena Williams. The 23-time Grand Slam champion has not only dominated the court but has also stood up for criminal justice, combating racism, sexism, poverty, and more. She said in an interview with CNN, “The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me will be the day I’m in my grave.”  She is endlessly committed to making a difference for all communities and she’s not giving up.

Many women who are competing, whether in gymnastics, tennis, or any other sport, feel pressure not only in their performance but in their appearance.

Many women who are competing, whether in gymnastics, tennis, or any other sport, feel pressure not only in their performance, but also in their appearance. Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles has come out on social media standing up for herself against beauty standards and judgment. Biles stated in an Instagram post, “In gymnastics, as in many other professions, there is a growing competition that has nothing to do with performance itself. I’m talking about beauty.” Women in all sports are body shamed just because they are women—there is nothing they can do to avoid it. These women athletes are in the spotlight, therefore they are subject to severe judgment. Biles is standing up for herself and everyone else who has been in her position: “I don’t know why others feel as though they can define your own beauty based on their standards … Today, I say I am done competing [with] beauty standards and the toxic culture of trolling when others feel as though their expectations are not met. Because nobody should tell you or [me] what beauty should or should not look like.” Biles isn’t only standing up for female athletes, she is inspiring a new generation of girls to be themselves and to persevere no matter what anybody says.

Like Biles, Rapinoe, Williams, and more, female athletes are encouraging young girls everywhere. Whether it is from their activism or success, they capture the attention of girls aspiring to break the next record, or start their sports journey.