May. 13, 2016
Happy National Girls & Women in Sports Day!
Today is a great day, especially if you are a young female athlete who has been inspired to play sports. There are so many great female athletes from the past and present who have done everything in their careers to impact and inspire the future generations of all athletes. We are so lucky today to live in a world where it is acceptable for females to play sports, because back then it was looked down upon to be a female athlete.
Being a female is hard. Being an athlete is hard. Being a female athlete is even harder. There are so many great female athletes in today’s world such as, Serena Williams, Alex Morgan, Candace Parker, Kerri-Walsh Jennings, Allyson Felix, Katie Ledecky, Simone Biles, and so many more. But what about the female athletes from the very beginning? Females up until the late 19th century were looked at as wives and mothers only. It was only men who were considered to play sports and play rough. However, women held their ground and stood for what they wanted to do, which was to be active, get dirty, perform to the very best of their abilities, and inspire future generations. While many athletes of today’s society have had a tremendous impact on the future generations of athletes to come, it is important to understand that there were many great athletes who paved the way for athletes today, especially female athletes. From not being allowed to play at all to playing whatever a girl wants to play now, women have broken the barriers for young girls around the world to be confident in playing whatever sport they want to play and being whoever you want to be.
There have been MANY and I mean MANY athletes who helped pave the way for women in today’s world of sports. I chose just a few of the MANY who have impacted the way sports are today. Without these incredible women and athletes, our athletes of today would have not had the foundation to build up the way sports are played today. These women became the pioneers and opened the doors by breaking down walls. They showed the world that they are capable of playing sports and are not limited to cleaning and cooking.
Without the pioneers, the greatest athletes of today’s society wouldn’t be what they are doing today. A lot of girls didn’t have many female athletes to look up to like they do today. In fact, a lot of girls had more male athlete figures to look up to than female athletes due to the idea that women were caretakers and housewives, not athletes. The athletes today are the trendsetters, the motivators, the fighters, the go-getters the hard workers, the champions, the greats, the role models. These are the athletes that are inspiring the next generation.
And so today, I say thank you to the female athletes from the past, present and future who have strived and will strive to be role models by showing that being a female is to be powerful.
I leave you with this message from the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), Serena Williams
"To all incredible women who strive for excellence,
When I was growing up, I had a dream. I’m sure you did, too. My dream wasn’t like that of an average kid, my dream was to be the best tennis player in the world. Not the best “female” tennis player in the world.
I was fortunate to have a family that supported my dream and encouraged me to follow it. I learned not to be afraid. I learned how important it is to fight for a dream and, most importantly, to dream big. My fight began when I was three and I haven’t taken a break since.
But as we know, too often women are not supported enough or are discouraged from choosing their path. I hope together we can change that. For me, it was a question of resilience. What others marked as flaws or disadvantages about myself – my race, my gender – I embraced as fuel for my success. I never let anything or anyone define me or my potential. I controlled my future.
So when the subject of equal pay comes up, it frustrates me because I know firsthand that I, like you, have done the same work and made the same sacrifices as our male counterparts. I would never want my daughter to be paid less than my son for the same work. Nor would you.
As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success. One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw. People call me one of the “world’s greatest female athletes”. Do they say LeBron is one of the world’s best male athletes? Is Tiger? Federer? Why not? They are certainly not female. We should never let this go unchallenged. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender.
For everything I’ve achieved in my life, I am profoundly grateful to have experienced the highs and lows that come with success. It is my hope that my story, and yours, will inspire all young women out there to push for greatness and follow their dreams with steadfast resilience. We must continue to dream big, and in doing so, we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits.”