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Celebrating Women in Sports With Attention and Glitz

October 22, 2018

Inspiration for women, women entrepreneurs, girls, female athletes, women in sports.

The women in the deep purple and brilliant green lit ballroom were either mature or young and either able bodied Olympians or Paralympics stars. Some were from team sports surrounded by their crew and others solo performers. All of them were beautifully confident arriving for a night of recognition in a world where women in sports are not celebrated as much as they should be. It was a gala fundraising event to raise funds for the Women’s Sports Foundation, founded by Billie Jean King 44 years ago.

My job at the Gala was to take photos of any athlete interested in sharing their image on a board of Gala attendees. The rowers were the tallest women who surrounded me and the young girls aged 8-10, there to walk with a star, were the shortest. They were all thrilled to have their photo taken and attached to the event board for all to see. I had a chance to sneak in a sports question or two about how hard or easy a sport was or to chat woman to woman about making sure the photos came out perfectly. I met some amazing women – women the world should know more about.

Maddie Rooney, Goalie, USA Hockey Team in 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics

I follow a lot of sports but sadly not enough women’s sports mainly because the media doesn’t show their sports on television equally to men’s sports unless it is tennis or the Olympics. The day before the gala, I sat with women who were rowers, gymnasts, fencers, basketball players and even the NFL 1st African American Female Coach. Since she coaches for the Jets, my son’s favorite team, I made sure to talk to her. Her name is Collette V. Smith – Founder of Believe N You, Inc.

At one point during the conference, legendary tennis icon Billie Jean King entered the conference room to deliver the keynote address to the rising stars moving from amateur athletics to professional careers. Billie Jean has done more for women in sports than any other woman and her essence electrified the room of female sports stars. A woman named Helen Delpopolo, President of the US Sumo Federation and a sumo wrestler herself, sat next to me. We chatted about her sport and her desire to get sumo wrestling into the Olympics. She stood up proudly to ask Billie Jean how best to do it. Billie told her, “Get to know the people organizing the Olympics you are striving for and start a relationship with them.” Later Helen and I vied for Billie’s attention to capture a photo with her for future inspiration.

The most important feeling I had walking away from two days surrounded by amateur and professional female athletes were how accomplished they are in their sport and how little the public knows about them. Some of these women are four time Olympic champions but because they aren’t men or in a popular sport like football, you wouldn’t know they exist or how hard they train to win. This needs to change and I hope with my Women ‘s Athletic Network, blog posts and research done for a presentation on them, that I can help shine the light on their accomplishments and get more women and men to care about, watch or attend and cheer on women athletes.

In the USA, women make up 52% of the population which in my mind means 52% of our sports watching time should be focused on female athletes. Can you help me make this possible?

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