Councilmembers Propose Funding for Sports Programs That Are Popular with Girls

by Patrick Herron
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For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Councilmembers Riemer and Albornoz introduce appropriation to expand recreational programs in sports like volleyball, lacrosse and softball, aiming to create more opportunities for girls

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 15, 2022—Today, Councilmember Hans Riemer and Council President Gabe Albornoz introduced a $100,000 special appropriation for theexpansion of sports leagues that are popular with girls. The co-sponsors for this appropriation include Councilmembers Nancy Navarro, Andrew Friedson, Sidney Katz, Tom Hucker and Craig Rice.

Currently, the Montgomery County Recreation Department’s only large youth sports league is basketball, which serves 6,000 kids. With additional offerings, thousands of additional children will have opportunities to participate in league sports activities. The special appropriation will provide initial funding for the Department of Recreation to create affordable and accessible opportunities in sports that are popular with girls such as volleyball, softball, lacrosse, and soccer.

Volleyball is the most popular sport for girls in 21 states and second most popular in nine states, while softball ranks first or second in six states. Since 2001, lacrosse has seen a more than 200 percent increase in the number of collegiate women’s teams and a recent 10-year national survey showed a 101 percent increase in the number of girls participating in the sport.

The new programs will include introductory activities, instructional skills classes and clinics. The funding would also support the expansion of the Soccer-4-Change girls’ program in the County. These activities are designed to provide the foundation for the establishment of County-wide recreational leagues for these sports in the next fiscal year.

Recent reports conducted by Montgomery County’s Office of Legislative Oversight on youth sports participation in Montgomery County and gender equity in local sports programs confirmed the numerous benefits of sports participation for children and youth in social and emotional development and overall health and wellness. These reports also found that there is a wide discrepancy in sports participation in the County due to barriers to access, including social and economic factors as well as sexual orientation and gender identity.

Gender disparities in sports begin when children are young, widen as they reach middle school, and widen more dramatically during high school. Because of these disparities, many girls do not benefit from the improved health, social and life outcomes associated with sports participation. In addition, access to sports programming has also been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a coach and parent in youth sports, I know how sports help kids live healthy, learn sportsmanship and teamwork, and experience competition,” said Councilmember Riemer, chair of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee. “For many kids, sports provides an avenue to a more affordable higher education. However, based on a recent County report, the gap in sports opportunities between boys and girls has widened to where girls drop off from sports at dramatically higher rates than boys. We should offer sports that girls enjoy to play. That is why I am so excited to propose funding that will initiate leagues in sports such as volleyball, softball and lacrosse. We can create more opportunities for girls and all kids to enjoy sports.”

“Sports at their best bring together communities and generations in ways that other genres cannot,” said Council President Gabe Albornoz, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “As the former director of the County’s Recreation Department, I have witnessed first-hand how sports positively transform our youth, improve mental health and instill life skills that will help guide them on the right path. This special appropriation will continue the Department of Recreation’s long-term vision of sports equity and ensure that all children and youth, especially our girls, gain equal access to recreational sports, programming opportunities, and quality venues.”

A public hearing for this special appropriation is scheduled for March 22. The staff report can be found here.

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