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Children of all genders need to see women excelling in sport. Sports are generally stereotyped as a male-dominated realm, which is a mindset that needs to change if we want young female athletes to know they are allowed to dominate an ice rink, wear baggy basketball shorts and develop strong muscles. Unfortunately reality right now is that by age 14, girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys the same age, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Exposing children to women’s sports seems impossible when about 96 per cent of the time, the athletes being televised are men. There actually isn’t even a single Canadian city that participates in a professional women’s sports league.

So, I’m going to plant a New Year’s resolution idea in your head: take the children in your life to university women’s sports games. With 96 universities in Canada, U SPORTS games are convenient to turn to when looking for ways to expose children to women’s sports.

“Exposing children to women’s sports seems impossible when about 96 per cent of the time, the athletes being televised are men.”

Not only are post-secondary games cheap to attend, but also, depending on the sport and the school, the skill level is impressive, the energy level is high and there are paid staff working behind the scenes to sell food, do reporting and run half-time entertainment. Some sports host “autograph days” where kids can get autographs from their favourite players.

But what about away games? Or what if finding a way to get to home games isn’t realistic for your situation? Fortunately, many U SPORTS basketball and hockey games are live streamed online, giving fans the option to watch their favourite team any time and anywhere. Putting the game up on the TV is exciting and would have the kids saying, “Whoa, these teams are famous.” 

“Truth is that girls, just like anybody, need role models they can relate to.”

Every night, our boys are given the chance to go crazy over Cristiano Ronaldo or LeBron James. They get together with their friends and play road hockey, spending the afternoon pretending to be next Sidney Crosby. Girls get nothing close to that opportunity. They might know Alex Morgan’s name, but they’ll probably never get to see her play a game for the Orlando Pride. Heck, what even is the Orlando Pride?

Some people might wonder why men’s leagues, such as the NHL and NBA, can’t inspire young girls. Truth is that girls, just like anybody, need role models they can relate to. As females, girls don’t see making a men’s major league as a realistic goal to set for themselves or their teammates.

We want to continue seeking out opportunities to expose children to the big names in women’s professional leagues, but in the meantime, university sports games are a great way to educate youngsters and keep sporty girls ambitious.

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