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New National Women’s Law Center Report Shows How Girls of Color Are Doubly Disadvantaged in Access to School Sports Opportunities

Year after year, the numbers continue to prove what we’ve always known – U.S. girls are simply not afforded the same school sports opportunities as their male counterparts. A new report from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), partially funded by a WSF research grant, examines how girls of color, in specific, are faring in their school sports…and the findings are troubling.

Finishing Last: Girls of Color and School Sports presents new data in a new way to highlight athletic disparities on the basis of race and gender. As Neena Chaudhry, NWLC Senior Counsel and Director of Equal Opportunities in Athletics, writes in a recent blog, “because data on sports opportunities, or spots on teams, are not available by gender and race together, the report compares the opportunities provided by heavily minority schools (where 10 percent or less of the students are white) and heavily white schools (where 90 percent or more of the students are white).”

The major findings of the report are:

  • Over 40 percent of our nation’s schools are either heavily white or heavily minority.
  • Heavily minority schools not only offer fewer overall athletic opportunities (a race discrimination issue under Title VI) but also fail to distribute those limited opportunities equitably between boys and girls (a sex discrimination issue under Title IX).
  • 40 percent of heavily minority high schools, compared to 16 percent of heavily white schools, have large gaps between the percentage of spots on teams for girls and the percentage of students who are girls.
  • At the typical heavily minority high school, for every 100 students there are just 25 spots on sports teams. By contrast, at the typical heavily white high school, for every 100 students there are 58 spots.

    Sports 4 Life, our new grant program with espnW, works to assuage the issues uncovered by the NWLC’s new report. Lack of access to school sports has long-term consequences for girls' health, academic success and economic security and by targeting African-American and Hispanic girls, ages 11 – 18, and providing funding and resources to their youth sports programs, we are ensuring these doubly-hit communities can reap the benefits sports provide. Learn more about the program and meet the 2015 grantees at

    Finishing Last: Girls of Color and School Sports was authored by the National Women’s Law Center and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council. The SHARP Center (a partnership from 2010-2013 between the Women’s Sports Foundation and the University of Michigan’s School of Kinesiology and Institute for Research on Women & Gender) provided funding for the report. You can view a copy of the report in full here.