Sporting activities for children have long been valued for the development of important life skills as well as socialization. Even before girls’ competitive sports were encouraged, athletics were thought to be important for character building. In 1973, tennis player Billie Jean King’s victory in the “Battle of the Sexes” marked the beginning of a surge in girls’ and women’s sports.
When college scholarships became available for women, then the parents of daughters as high school students got more interested in supporting their girls in athletics.Anne Harper, April 13, 2021
My second daughter played soccer in the little church leagues that were sponsored at the age of five. By the time she was in high school it was clear that she was not going to get a college scholarship in soccer, but she loved the game. And what she was learning was teamwork, and discipline, and leadership…That’s the real value for many, not just getting the college scholarships or even going onto professional sports, but it’s just the life skills that are learned through the teamwork and discipline and leadership of being a member of an athletic team…”Anne Harper, April 13, 2021
Though girls’ community and school sports became increasingly popular, they faced a lack of resources. City programs, school athletics, and even church programs consistently did not provide equal funding and facilities for boys’ and girls’ sports. A common reasoning was that girls were simply not as interested in sports, but supporters argued that a lack of opportunity was what discouraged girls.