Athletes as activists

Play Like a Girl was recently invited to be a part of the United State of Women (USOW) Summit after Dr. Kim’s work with the espnW Women + Sports workgroup on athlete activism in 2017. The USOW Summit brought together more than 6,000 women and allies for a program featuring women leaders like former First Lady Michelle Obama, actors and activitists Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi and Jane Fonda.

A number of elite women athletes headlined the event including Swim Cash, Mackenzie Hill, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Leslie Osborne and Gabrielle Reece. Their sessions showcased how they have defined a powerful vision through their trailblazing work breaking down barriers and building bridges in sports.

We believe that activist efforts seek to change the social climate and structures that make volunteerism necessary, yet few people understand their service as an important contribution to larger structural social change. To add to this already empowering summit, a team of Play Like a Girl Board members (including Jenne Blackburn, Nailah Ellis Timberlake, Adrienne Jordan, Corey Meyerson and Kenisha Rhone) traveled to Los Angeles to talk up the power of athlete activism.

Our goal was to help female athletes and laypersons understand the power and necessity of activism in achieving social change, and to reframe volunteerism and service as an effective act of dissent. We partnered with Paralympian Scout Bassett, Yahoo! Sports analyst Liz Loza and Dr. Jen Welter–the first woman coach in the NFL–to share stories of women who have found their voice and used it to support causes they believe in.

Our own Board member and MLB executive Celeste Bell was also a major voice on the panel, highlighting Play Like a Girl programs and sharing how athletes and those passionate about sport can propel our efforts to level the playing field for girls and women in sports.

Video from the Summit is available at facebook.com/theunitedstateofwomen.