According to a study done by Refinery29, girls drop out of sports at 1.5 times the rate of boys by the age of 14.
Some girls say this is because they think sports do not cater to them and that more attention is focused on male sports. However, sports have been proven to increase diligence and discipline and to build confidence and relationships.
In November of 2017, Gatorade launched a campaign titled Sisters in Sweat. To launch the campaign, a short film featuring 23-time Grand Slam champion and new mom, Serena Williams was released. In the short film, she urges baby Alexis to never stop playing sports.
"I won't mind if you play tennis badly. I won't mind if you choose to never pick up a racket, but I beg you in this game of life, please keep playing no matter what," she says over footage of her carrying her baby in her nursery.
Also, read: 10 Ways to raise strong, confident girls
The film shows girls in various sports playing and cheering each other on, to solidify the message that Serena is passing on to her daughter. "Sports will teach you the strength of your allies. Whether your bond is by blood or by ball. Whether she shares the colour of your skin or the colour of your jersey, you'll find your sisters in sweat."
The film goes on to feature powerful well-known women who also participated in sports when they were growing up, such as:
Elaine Welteroch: Teen Vogue editor-in-chief who has played a vital role in changing the media young girls consume by making the publication more inclusive and politically aware.
Piera Gelardi: Executive creative director and co-founder of Refinery29. The online publication has built a large following and in September 2016 they began the 67 Percent Project which aims to bring more body positive messages and images to mainstream media.
Susan Wojcicki: The CEO of YouTube. That's correct, the largest video streaming site in the world is headed by a woman! Not only is the woman in charge at YouTube but she also is involved with many charities and campaign that empower young girls and women in tech and education.
Tory Burch: Fashion designer and businesswoman. Her designs have been worn by many celebrities and she's also well known for starting the Tory Burch Foundation that gives back and supports women entrepreneurs.
While Serena may be a professional sports player, the other women featured have made their name in fashion, tech and media. Young girls should be encouraged to keep playing as sports will give them the courage and confidence to achieve their goals.
12-time Grand Slam winner, Billie Jean King, recently spoke to showrunner and writer Shonda Rhimes about the importance of sports among girls. In the interview she described sports as a microcosm of society. "Sports are visible and people relate to sports. If you look at society, politics, business, you name it, there are so many similarities when compared to sports. The successes, failures and challenges mirror each other and sports are often easier concepts for people to grasp because it is so visual."
Serena isn't just speaking to her daughter, she speaks to many young girls: "You'll find the courage to stand tall, work harder, and speak louder, on whatever playing field you choose in life," she says. "So keep playing, my girl. Keep playing."
For many moms, the short film affirms the messages and life lessons they teach their children and especially their daughters.
- "Being okay with who you are is a revolutionary act" – Ashley Graham’s powerful message to young girls
- Instead of telling his son to toughen up, this dad taught his little man the importance of never giving up
- International sports career beckoning? These are the subjects to take at school
What role has sports played in your life and do you encourage your children to partake in any team sports? Email us your story firstname.lastname@example.org.