Women’s sports safety is an important topic that until now has not received as much attention as it deserves. It is a topic important to the health and safety of the millions of women who participate in sports activities in America and globally.
Women’s sports in recent years has greatly expanded from the traditional non-contact sports open to women in the past such as tennis, running and golf. Although those sports also carry a risk of injury, today as more women participate in sports like soccer, basketball, lacrosse and softball, the risk of sports injuries for women has grown in number and complexity. This has made women’s sports safety a subject of concern that merits immediate attention.
Women’s Sports Safety Initiative: Giving Women’s Sports Safety the Attention It Deserves
In an effort to help remedy this potentially dangerous situation for women athletes on a national basis, a new Women’s Sports Safety Initiative (WSSI) has been created. WSSI, a special fund project of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, is dedicated to advancing the lives of women and girls by raising awareness of sports-related injuries and the unique factors affecting women’s susceptibility to and recovery from injury. A special emphasis for WSSI will be on reducing risk of concussions, one of the most dangerous sports-related injuries for women. Consequently, WSSI will monitor women’s sports safety and strive to be a leader in raising awareness.
One of the primary goals of the new Women’s Sports Safety Initiative is to promote the safety and protection of women athletes. Another is to improve efforts to prevent sports-related injuries in women and girls so they can fully participate in sports and athletics with less risk to their health and well-being.
WSSI intends to advocate for new gender-based concussion research studies by federal health agencies and to increase awareness across the country about the risk of head injuries and their consequences. WSSI also plans to help educate all Americans connected with student athletics, including families, schools, policy leaders and community organizations about concussion safety. The Initiative will reach out to health care professionals to seek their participation in increasing awareness about the prevention, treatment and potential consequences of concussions.
Concussions a Special Concern For Women’s Sports Safety
In the area of women’s sports safety, the growing risk of concussions is an area in need of immediate attention.
According to the Centers for Disease Control:
- 8 million Americans suffer a concussion every year due to sports and physical activities. It is believed that an increasing number of these concussions occur in women and girls.
- Women and girls experience more concussions than males playing similar sports.
- Female athletes are more likely to have more severe injuries and symptoms from concussions and experience a slower recovery
Mary Hayashi, Women’s Sports Safety Initiative’s Project Director
Mary Hayashi has been appointed WSSI project director. Hayashi, who is an award-winning author, healthcare advocate and former state assembly representative, is the ideal person to lead this vital new women’s sports safety initiative. While serving in the state legislature, Hayashi helped shine a light on the concussion crisis in student athletes. Important bills she authored in this area that have become law include AB 25, a concussion safety bill that positioned California as a state with one of the most strict return-to-play laws for student athletes, and AB 1451, which made concussion training mandatory as part of the first-aid certification required for high school coaches.
“We’ve made great strides in protecting the health of California’s student-athletes,” Mary said in a recently published article about her successful legislative bills.
Now Hayashi believes it is time now to turn a laser focus on the health and safety issues of female student-athletes nationwide.
Mary also has been a state leader in supporting important women’s issues and has received recognition from the American Red Cross and Planned Parenthood for her work in these areas.
The WSSI Team Will Highlight Outreach Education and Communication
An expert support team will assist Mary Hayashi in achieving the goals of the Women’s Sports Safety Initiative through education and communication outreach efforts.
Ross Warren will provide strategic policy planning as a policy consultant for the program. For several decades Ross has worked in policy and public administration in California. He has worked for two state governors and four members of the state assembly along with several elected policy groups. His extensive policy experience led to his appointment by former Governor Schwarzenegger to lead a major state government policy review and reform board.
Sharon Reis and Lauren Musiol will both serve as communications consultants. Each brings a complementary area of expertise. Sharon is skilled in conducting award-winning outreach campaigns promoting health, healthcare, science, and social issues. Lauren’s expertise is in public education outreach using a combination of media outreach, themed events and the development of materials to be disseminated.
Research consultant Kathy Steinberg comes to WSSI from the Harris Poll organization. For over a decade, she has specialized in the design and analysis of public opinion research polls. One of her areas of expertise is in the development of opinion polls intended for public release of information.
Support for WSSI comes from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Based in Silicon Valley, the Foundation marshals the resources of Silicon Valley donors to help address challenging problems on a global basis.