New York, NY (August 1, 2014) – The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF)—the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in sports—today announced the collective contribution of over $2 million from NBC Sports Group, ESPN and FOX Sports. The pledge, a powerful testimony on the importance of women in broadcast and company leadership; helps fulfill the Foundation’s mission to ensure opportunities for girls and women of all abilities by providing access to sports.
The funding will help drive the Foundation’s national efforts to close the 1.4 million participation gap in athletic opportunities for high school girls and collegiate women, provide grants to amateur and professional athletes in the pursuit of athletic excellence and sustain the Foundation’s longstanding commitment to the health and future success of girls across the United States.
The unprecedented, joint effort by FOX Sports, ESPN, and NBC Sports Group, speaks to the media’s critical role in creating, covering and shaping the stories of female athletes in sports. Further, it aligns with the companies’ efforts to grow women’s leadership in senior-level positions within the industry, and help former athletes transition from the field to the boardroom.
“It is truly amazing to see three giants in the sports industry coming together on mutual ground to benefit girls and women,” stated WSF Founder Billie Jean King. “Together, we’ll take a stand to ensure girls and women stay in the game.”
“As a long-time supporter of the Foundation, ESPN and Disney have invested nearly a half million dollars over the last three years,” said ESPN President John Skipper. “We know that WSF is a proven organization with great potential to expand access to sports for women and girls and we are proud to join the other two media companies in support of their continued work.”
“Playing sports and celebrating the importance of its roles in our society is a key part of the culture at FOX Sports. Our partnerships at the grassroots level with AYSO to the highest competitive level with collegiate sports and the FIFA Women’s World Cup signify our commitment to growing women’s sports, said Eric Shanks, President, COO, and Executive Producer of FOX Sports. From lessons on teamwork, determination and self-belief, FOX Sports is proud to support the Women’s Sports Foundation and their dedication to developing America’s girls into the next leaders of our corporations, and our society at large.”
NBC is known for its first-class coverage of numerous sporting events including the Olympics. “As a company, we believe in showcasing the stories of male and female athletes alike,” said NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus. “Our investment in the Women’s Sports Foundation provides female athletes with the opportunity to pursue their athletic aspirations. It also underscores the Olympic spirit which is rooted in fair play, equality and peace.”
The Women’s Sports Foundation’s mission to create leaders by ensuring all girls access to sports is driven by years of evidence-based research that demonstrates the profound impact of sports participation. A girl who participates in sports is healthier, has higher self-esteem and shows greater achievement in higher education and employment. In fact, 80% of female business executives attribute their career success to having played sports. To that end, the Foundation advocates for equal opportunities for girls and women at all levels, and supports physically and emotionally healthy lifestyles. The Foundation also builds capacities for organizations that get girls active, particularly in underserved communities.
As part of their commitment, the media groups join Gatorade as presenting sponsors at the upcoming Salute to Women in Sports (October 15 in New York City), the Foundation’s annual fundraising gala that celebrates the most accomplished women in sports and the girls they inspire.
“The Women’s Sports Foundation drives access to sport for all girls. We help communities to harness sport as a tool to empower girls to be the next generation of healthy, successful leaders,” said Kathryn Olson, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation. “With help from ESPN, FOX Sports and NBC Sports Group, our combined efforts will expand sport and participation for future generations and showcase powerful female role models through the coverage of women’s sports in the media.”