Women’s Sports Foundation President Jessica Mendoza, teams up with pro skier Grete Eliassen and others, to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day 2010!
National Girls and Women in Sports Days coalition members, including Foundation President Jessica Mendoza, gathered at Senate Russell Building 485 in Washington, D.C., for a briefing on the Senate’s High School Sports Collection Act (S-471) and the House of Representatives’ High School Athletics Accountability Act of 2009 (HR-282). The purpose of the briefing, to encourage the passing of both bills that are designed to compel the collection and examination of high school athletic participation statistics, is essential to the development and enhancement of athletic opportunity for high school girls across the country.
National Women’s Law Center Senior Counsel Neena Chaudhry began the briefing with opening remarks, reminding the standing-room only crowd of both the progress made toward gender equity in sport and also, the importance to the continuance of that progress in the passing of both bills.
“While we have made significant strides towards equity in athletics, we have a long way to go. Women and girls still do not receive equal opportunities to play sports, and they are not treated equally when they do play. While federal law requires colleges to make gender equity in sports information publicly available each year, high schools are not required to disclose these data, making it difficult to ensure fairness at the secondary school level,” said Chaudhry.
For perspective from a high school student-athlete whose experience would be directly impacted by the passing of the bills, high school basketball player Kendra Johnson then spoke. Speaking to the power of sports her life, Johnson said that although she began to play sports because her “mother made her,” she now understands the positive, almost unmatched influence her involvement has had.
Next to speak was Foundation President Mendoza, whose turn focused on her personal experiences in sport. As an Olympic gold medalist in softball and Stanford University graduate, Mendoza’s access to sports as a high school player immensely impacted her life. While speaking, she stressed the importance of the bills, and emphasized that every girl should have the same opportunity as she, saying “we can’t help the programs if we don’t know where the need is.”
Closing the briefing was Peg Pennepacker, Assistant Principal & Athletic Director and Susquehanna Township School District (Penn.) She spoke in summation of those before her, yet, at the same time, conveyed a common misconception about girls’ interest in sports.
“Interest does not develop in a vacuum. It is a function of opportunity and experience,” she said.
Introduced to the House in 2009 by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), the bi-partisan High School Athletics Accountability Act of 2009 had, as of one week ago, 67 co-sponsors. Brought before the Senate in 2009 by Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Sen. Patty Murray (D- Wash.), the also-bi-partisan High School Sports Collection Act had eight cosponsors of the bill. It is the hope of the NGWSD coalition that those who acted as co-sponsors in 2009 will do the same in 2010’s government session, and those we had not yet done so, will co-sponsor for the first time in 2010.
NGWSD events continue on Wednesday, February 3, as groups comprised of representatives from coalition organizations will visit over thirty members of Congress. Champion female athletes secured by the Women’s Sports Foundation will be present in each meeting. Confirmed athletes for this year include Jessica Mendoza (softball), Grete Eliassen (skiing), Lillian Greene-Chamberlain (Track &Field) and Donna de Varona (swimming).
For more on this, please visit The Women’s Sports Foundation Online.