Patrick, Rousey providing young girls new opportunities

Patrick, Rousey providing young girls new opportunities
February 25, 2013, 3:30 pm
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It's funny how your perspective changes as your life changes.

For most of my first four decades, I was aware of Title IX (which celebrated 40 years in 2012), the bid for athletic equality and the increasing number of females growing up in the athletic community. But once you have a daughter, you become much more aware of its significance.

I've been sitting on those thoughts for a while, and they kind of hit home this weekend. On another Saturday and Sunday, prime for sleeping in, the alarm clock rang early for club volleyball tournaments. I know many of you out there have been part of the early-morning activities for quite some time, be it sports, or other activities with your children. But this final weekend of February, there were two of the main storylines: a girl racing against boys, and another the centerpiece of a pay-per-view sporting event.

Between Danica Patrick's participation in the Daytona 500 and Ronda Rousey's in UFC 157, this past weekend was a perfect storm of national focus being on women.

Say what you will about Patrick's realistic chances of winning NASCAR's Super Bowl despite what she accomplished in qualifying, and Rousey being the centerpiece of an event in a sport growing astronomically. Their competition speaks volumes of how far we've come, and maybe how far we still have to go. I'm not sure if we'll ever see females in football or baseball -- hockey's been there, done that; basketball might not be too far behind -- but Patrick and Rousey have set another example: if not for girls to dream big, to at least pursue a dream.

The competition is fierce, be it against men directly or to be the marquee name on an Ultimate Fighting card. Who knows who and what Patrick and Rousey might inspire, but it's another step to at least let the little girls of the world to dream. I've seen Patrick in person, and I can't think she's more than 105-110 lbs., but there's a whole lot more to her than that to get as far as she's gone. Yes, I totally acknowledge that she and Rousey have "the look" factor to aid their cause, and I know the laws of the land have shut some doors for guys just as passionate about their endeavors as girls are for theirs. And yes, I realize professional sports leagues involving females have been a tough sell.

But when you look at clubs and leagues that were barely an afterthought 20 years ago for guys -- much less girls --it's amazing to see the number of people who have found an out, a joy and a passion. Cheers to Patrick and Rousey for letting ladies know it's good to chase things you love doing, and learn some life lessons along the way that, at one time, only males were allowed to learn.