Play Fair

Athletes and Women’s Rights Activists Gather on Capitol Hill to Advocate for Girls and Women in Sports

Olympic gold medalist boxer Claressa Shields, Track & Field Paralymian Scout Bassett, decorated auto racer Shea Holbrook, X Games gold medalist freeskier Grete Eliassen, and Senator Dianne Feinstein Among Athletes and Advocates Recognizing 32nd Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day    

WASHINGTON, February 7, 2018 – A coalition of champion athletes and women’s rights activists arrive on Capitol Hill today to celebrate the 32nd annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), a national observance celebrating the extraordinary achievements of girls and women in sports.

In the wake of the Women’s March anniversary, the 2018 NGWSD theme, Play Fair, Play IX, will illuminate the importance of Title IX legislation in ensuring safe, equitable and non-discriminatory opportunities in athletics for girls and women.  The NGWSD Coalition members, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and Girls Inc., will meet key government leaders on Capitol Hill in both the House and Senate to discuss these critical issues.

The briefing and panel discussion featuring athletes and Title IX experts will take place in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center and is sponsored by the Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who championed the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 in the Senate (S.534 / H.R.1973). Coalition representatives Valerie Borden, Senior Advisor, HHS Office on Women’s Health, two-time Olympic gold medalist and undefeated WBC & IBF Super Middleweight Champion boxer, Claressa Shields, and a Girls Inc. participant are among the featured speakers.

The briefing discussion will focus on the impact of sexual harassment and assault on students and athletes, and highlight the role of Title IX in expanding access and opportunity to sports programming, particularly for girls in marginalized communities.

Despite Title IX’s impact in the lives of girls and women over the past 45 years, only 42 percent of high school girls* are currently playing sports, leaving three-in-five girls without the opportunity to compete. This gap disproportionately impacts urban communities and girls of color.

“The courage, confidence and leadership skills gained through sports participation are the very tools girls need to become the strong leaders of tomorrow,” shared Grete Eliassen, WSF President and six-time X Games medalist in free skiing. “We are calling for policymakers to pass legislation ensuring all young athletes – regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or ability — have safe and equitable access to athletic opportunities, free from all forms of discrimination or abuse.”

Nationally, thousands of sports educators, coaches, athletic departments, recreation centers, community organizations, students and parents will come together to host hundreds of local events across all 50 states to celebrate.

On February 6, the Coalition invited more than 100 elementary and middle school girls from Washington, D.C. area schools to Georgetown University, to participate in five different sports skills clinics and to learn important life lessons from student and professional athletes who partnered in hosting the event. Girl participants from Friends of Fort Dupont and DC SCORES, which are recipients of Women’s Sports Foundation grant funding, were exposed to sport-based skill drills in basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer and volleyball, and had the opportunity to discuss the confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills gained by their participation in sports programs.


Aleia Naylor
Women’s Sports Foundation


About National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD)
National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) began in 1987 as a special day in our nation’s capital to recognize women’s sports. The day united premiere organizations and elite female athletes to bring national attention to the promise of girls and women in sports. In 1987, NGWSD also served as a remembrance of Olympic volleyball player, Flo Hyman, for her athletic achievements and dedication to promoting equality for women’s sports; Hyman died of Marfan’s Syndrome in 1986. NGWSD has since evolved into an event to acknowledge the accomplishments of female athletes, the positive influence of sports participation and the continuing struggle for equality for women in sports.

National Girls & Women in Sports Day is celebrated annually across all 50 states with community-based events, award ceremonies and other celebratory activities. NGWSD is organized by the members of the National Girls & Women in Sports Day Coalition. Champion women athletes have also contributed to annual NGWSD activities. For more information, please visit:

About the National Girls and Women in Sports Day Coalition
The National Girls & Women in Sports Day Coalition is comprised of premiere organizations in the United States including the Women’s Sports Foundation, National Women’s Law Center, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, Office of Women’s Health and Girls Inc.