Before you ask, Dick’s Sporting Goods will not be changing its name to appeal to female customers, but it is investing millions of dollars in women’s sports and expanding its selection of products for girls and women.
On February 4, the largest U.S. sporting-goods chain revealed its multitiered plan to win over women—you know, over half the country. The plan starts with revamping its stores to actually include more room for women’s and girls’ products, according to Bloomberg, but also pledges a $5 million grant to the U.S. Soccer Foundation, a USA Softball sponsorship ahead of the sport’s return to the Olympics this summer, and a “national ad campaign supporting women’s sports.” All in all, the company is making a “low-eight-figure investment.”
The plan is promising. Social stigma and lack of role models are two leading factors behind why girls drop out of sports, according to research from the Women’s Sports Foundation. Making girls’ gear more visible and accessible is a step in the right direction.
So is supporting top female athletes. The grant to the U.S. Soccer Foundation should come as no surprise to those who paid attention to the World Cup this past summer. Interest in women’s athletics skyrocketed as the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team took home its fourth World Cup. Yet somehow the players are still being forced to fight against gender-discrimination and pay discrepancies—a battle being fought by female athletes across sports.
“At the crux of everything is that when we play a game—win the game, lose the game, tie the game, whatever—what we’re asking is that we’ll have the same opportunity to make the same amount of money,” Rapinoe, a 2019 Glamour Women of the Year honoree, told Glamour. “We should be treated equally.”
Dick’s three-year soccer grant will reportedly go to a U.S. Soccer Foundation program that aims to engage 100,000 girls in underserved communities by 2023.
As for the official partnership with USA Softball, the team will be returning to the Tokyo Olympics this year for the first time since the sport was dropped after the 2008 games. Dick’s will also be the official merchandise vendor for the team’s pre-Tokyo tour across 35 cities beginning this February.
Still think revisiting the whole “Dick’s” thing could also help, though!