Sports

  • The Beautiful Game: A Mighty Girl Celebrates Soccer

    By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    51m5j8mmyjl_1_[1]It’s played by 250 million people in over 200 countries, and in many nations, it’s the most prominent women’s team sport. Women’s soccer games have been recorded since the late 19th century, and today, 177 nations have national women’s soccer teams. Best of all, the future looks bright for women’s soccer: girls’ soccer leagues continue to thrive, with gender representation among youth soccer players almost exactly 50-50. With such an incredible love of the Beautiful Game out there, it’s no wonder that many Mighty Girls have been eagerly awaiting the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup!

    To celebrate this event — and the love of girls and women everywhere for the sport — we’ve collected some of our favorite books, toys, posters, and clothes celebrating the great game of soccer. We hope that these resources will have your Mighty Girl dreaming of her favorite game long after the World Cup is won.

    In addition to our recommendations below, there's also a guidebook to everything going on during the 2015 Women's World Cup, FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015: The Official Book. Continue reading

  • Celebrating Summer with the Top Outdoor Play Toys for Mighty Girls!

    By Lili Sandler, A Mighty Girl Senior Research Intern

    Summer is here! It’s time to get outside and enjoy the long hours of sunshine! There are so many ways to explore the outdoors with the Mighty Girls in your life, and in this post we recommend a few of our favorite outdoor toys, games, and gear to consider for your adventures. If you'd like to discover more options beyond our recommendations below, you can also visit A Mighty Girl's extensive Outdoor Play section to learn about a wide range of excellent toys and games for children and teens.

    INDEPENDENT ACTIVE PLAY

    slacklineWhen it’s time to graduate from a ride-on to a two-wheeler, instead of using the typical training wheels, many studies — and more importantly, parents — agree that the best way for a child to learn to ride her own bike is by first mastering balancing. If your child can run, she is ready to try her own balance running bike with the Strider PREbike! She’ll be whizzing up and down the sidewalk in no time, and developing both pre-bicycling skills and confidence, too!

    For more wheel-based fun, check out this cherry blossom skateboard from Punisher Skateboards. All that time on her balancing bike will come in handy as she weaves her way around obstacles and over bumps. This board is 31 inches long, made of Canadian Maple, and is sure to delight girls 6 and older. Continue reading

  • Play Ball Like A Mighty Girl! Top Picks for Baseball & Softball Lovers

    By Lili Sandler, A Mighty Girl Senior Research Intern

    April has arrived, and with it, baseball and softball season! Both iconic and poetic, few games have captivated the American public year after year with the same level of passion and devotion. While baseball has, unfortunately, remained a male-dominated sport in the professional realm, its steadfast allure has earned it a place in the heart of many a Mighty Girl, young and old alike.

    For that reason, we have pulled together a list of some of our favorite books, toys, clothes, and more for the baseball and softball lover in your life. Whether watching her favorite team on TV or at the ballpark, learning about women’s roles in the history of baseball and softball, tossing a ball around in her own backyard, or playing on a real live team, if you know a Mighty Girl with an interest in America’s pastime, there’s sure to be something for her here!

    WOMEN IN BASEBALL HISTORY

    players-in-pigtailsWhile girls and women have always been interested in the game of baseball (Vassar College boasts an all-girl’s baseball team as early as 1866, only 9 years after the first national baseball association was formed) their ability to play at a professional level was limited to only 12 seasons. From 1943 - 1954, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) was home to more than 600 women athletes who played for 15 different teams throughout the midwestern United States. Many books have been published discussing the history of the AAGPBL, several of which you can find in our baseball and softball section.

    For a survey of the AAGPBL and an introduction to some of the players therein, readers 10 and up will enjoy Sue Macy’s A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. In it, Macy addresses many of the societal issues the young women of the time were forced to deal with in order to play ball, as well as the economic issues of running a baseball league.

    A well-known and equally-loved movie, Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own tells the story of the AAGPBL through the eyes of a pair of sisters who play for the Rockford Peaches. Starring Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, and Tom Hanks, this film is recommended for ages 9 and up. Continue reading

  • Today in Mighty Girl History: Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic Athlete

    superwomanToday in Mighty Girl history, we mark the birthday of American athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Considered by many to be the best all-around female athlete in the world and voted by Sports Illustrated for Women as the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th century, Ms. Joyner-Kersee’s story is one of determination and drive in pursuit of excellence.

    Born Jacqueline Joyner in 1962 in East St. Louis, Illinois, to a family of limited means and resources, her path to fame and success was not always a given. However, named after then-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Joyner family lore says that a grandmother predicted, “Some day this girl will be the first lady of something.”

    Forbidden to date until the age of 18, Jackie and her brother, Al (a star athlete in his own right), focused their time and energy on sports at the local community center, and then high school. In addition to academics, she excelled at track, basketball, and volleyball, and ended up receiving a full basketball scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles. Before long, however, with strong encouragement from assistant coach (and future spouse) Bob Kersee, she switched her athletic focus to training for the Olympics, and specifically for the heptathlon. Continue reading

  • Remembering Women Sports Trailblazers

    This week marks the anniversary of amazing feats by three trailblazing women. On July 5, 1916, sisters Augusta and Adeline Van Buren set off on an incredible journey and began the first successful transcontinental motorcycle tour across the U.S. by two women on solo motorcycles. They rode 5,500 miles in 60 days often over unpaved roads while traveling from NYC to Tijuana, Mexico.

    The entrance of the U.S. into WWI inspired the sisters' feat as they sought to prove that women could ride as well as men and were capable of serving as military dispatch riders. The women dressed in military-style leggings and leather riding breeches which were taboo at that time for women and, as a result, they were arrested several times along the way for wearing men's clothing. Yet, these two inspirational trailblazers were undaunted. As Augusta famously once stated, “Woman can if she will.” Continue reading

  • Women's Sports Today & the 36 Words that Made It All Possible

    Even for non-sports fans it would have been hard to miss the excitement around Baylor's women basketball team victory over Notre Dame last week. With this victory, the Baylor women not only won the national championship but became the first N.C.A.A. basketball - in either the women's or men's divisions - to win 40 games in a season. Deservingly, much attention has been paid to the role of 6-foot-8 Baylor star Brittney Griner, recently named the Associated Press' women's college basketball Player of the Year.1

    Stepping back from these current events for a moment however, it's worthwhile to reflect on the relatively recent changes that took place in America that made accomplishments like Griner's possible. The U.S. has among the highest levels of participation of girls in sports and that fact is largely due to a little known, but hugely significant law passed in 1972 called Title IX. Title IX is incredibly succinct, declaring in only 36 words that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." In short, title IX requires gender equity in all educational programs that receive federal funding. Although this post focuses on its impact on athletics, it's worth noting that the law also contributed significantly to the increase in women obtaining advanced degrees due to elimination of gender bias in admission policies.

    Prior to its passage, many schools offered few athletic options for girls and even major sporting events often barred women. The picture below depicts a famous instant during the 1967 when Kathrine Switzer ran in the Boston Marathon in violation of its ban against women. Officials attempted to remove the 20 year old Syracuse University student from the route mid-run but other runners came to her aid, and she was able to complete the race.

    There's no question that Title IX has had a transformative impact on girl's and women's participation in sports. Just consider that the number of women's intercollegiate teams at colleges increased from an average of 2.5 per school in 1970 (two years before Title IX's enactment) to 8.65 per school in 2008 -- that translated to an increase in the number of individual female college athletes from 16,000 in 1968 to over 180,000 in 2008. High school participation experienced similar growth and, as of 2007, there were over three million high school female athletes not including those involved with community and club teams.2

    As a child of the '80s, I personally benefited from the legacy of Title IX. There was never any question in my family that I would play sports as a child and our community and school system provided robust sports programs for both girls and boys. Like me, the young female stars of today such as Griner are the inheritors of the Title IX legacy. As we celebrate the athletic accomplishments of today, let's take a moment to remember the hard work and dedication of girls and women of the past that helped make it possible.


    Recommended Reading

    For a great resource on teaching tweens/teens about the history of Title IX and its impact on girls' lives, we recommend Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America.

    There are several great, inspirational books on famous women athletes perfect for young athletes or those you'd like to encourage to participate in sports including Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like?, Superwomen: 100 Women-100 Sports, Yes, She Can!: Women's Sports Pioneers, and Extraordinary Women Athletes.

    A Mighty Girl also has a growing sports section with many fiction and non-fiction books on girls and women in sports that can be sorted by a specific sport. And, for a compelling depiction of girl's sports prior to the passage of Title IX, don't miss the film Believe In Me.

    Title IX is a living law - even with the many advances in women's athletics, it is still very relevant today and faces challenges to weaken its impact. To learn more about protecting Title IX and about your rights under Title IX, the Women's Sports Foundation offers wonderful resources. They also offer this helpful primer on Title IX.

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