This one's for all the #GirlDads

June 18, 2023
Today’s scroll is all about the intersection of fatherhood and sports, with a focus on the #GirlDads who make us proud, the men changing the world for their children, and the best practices for papas raising sporty spices of their own, courtesy of The GIST team.
Sports NewsGeneral
This one's for all the #GirlDads
Source: Jeffery Salter/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

🚙 The importance of dads in sports

Whether he’s organizing the carpool, coaching from the sidelines, or playing catch in the backyard, dads and father figures have a huge role in molding their child’s relationship with sports.

  • And from a father-daughter perspective, playing sports together is proven to help young girls develop a healthy sense of competition while teaching them to take risks.

Finally, the number one influence on a child’s sports fandom is their dad’s allegiance to a team…unless you’re this brave little NY Yankees fan in a Boston Red Sox home.

⭐ The #GirlDad effect

Following the tragic death of retired LA Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, one integral part of his complicated legacy started a global movement: celebrating Girl Dads.

Bryant had a special bond with 13-year-old Gianna, who was killed in a helicopter crash, alongside her father and two of her basketball teammates. Gigi, as she was known, dreamed of playing in the WNBA and becoming a professional baller like her number one supporter: her dad.

👊 Dads fighting for an equitable future

The legendary Dwyane Wade may be retired, but he recently moved from Florida to California in part because he felt his family, including his transgender daughter Zaya, “would not be accepted” in a state rife with anti–LGBTQIA+ legislation.

  • Wade has been a staunch supporter of Zaya since she came out in 2020 and is a proud advocate for the trans community, saying at this year's Met Gala, “Let’s make sure our kids have an opportunity to live this life that we all get to live.” Say it louder for the bigots in the back!

There’s something special about gifts from your parents, but women’s sports investor (and Serena Williams’ husband) Alexis Ohanian might take the cake. After becoming a lead investor in the NWSL’s Angel City FC in 2020, he and Williams gave their daughter, Olympia, a piece of the pie, making the then-two-year-old the youngest co-owner of a professional sports team.

Just days ago, Ohanian one-upped himself, making now-five-year-old Olympia the youngest owner of two sports teams by buying her (and her future sibling) stake in the LA Golf Club. Rock on, equality king.

✨ Words of wisdom

The team at The GIST is filled with sports-obsessed women and nonbinary folk who were either athletes themselves or simply sports-curious. Here’s the advice they’d give fathers who are raising aspiring Coco Gauffs.

Show up. “Nothing meant more to me than when I saw my dad standing on the sidelines after I face planted while running the 55 meter hurdles in middle school. He lovingly laughed, so I laughed it off too and went on to become a Conference Champ in the event.” — Alessandra Puccio

Barriers are meant to be broken. “From signing me up as the only girl in the entire teeball league at age five to becoming the first-ever father-daughter duo to attend the Cleveland Guardians MLB Fantasy Camp together as adults, my dad didn't just tell me I was limitless — he proved it every damn day.” — Dee Lab

Girls belong in sports. “From watching Sunday football together when I was growing up to coaching my basketball teams to showing up for all my collegiate games, I knew I belonged in the sports world because my dad, the biggest sports guy I know, never made me feel otherwise.” — Lisa Minutillo

Be the braggy daddy. “As much as I don’t take compliments well, watching my dad beam while telling his friends about my accomplishments in sports really helped build my self confidence as a college athlete. Knowing how excited he was to talk about his daughter in sports made an impact.” — Robyn

Support even without understanding. “My dad and uncles thought that sports would help me make friends when I moved to North America. Even if they didn’t understand what sport I was playing, they were there clapping. They always made time to drive me to every practice, recital, and game. Even when there was a language barrier, they always tried and signed me up for whatever sport I was interested in.” — Olivia Yusuf