Celebrating fathers and father figures in sports

June 16, 2024
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
Celebrating fathers and father figures in sports
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🚙 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

Celebrating fathers and father figures in sports
Source: Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Following the tragic death of retired LA Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, one integral part of his off-court 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 seven other people, including 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

Celebrating fathers and father figures in sports
Source: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Netflix

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 last year's Met Gala, “Let’s make sure our kids have an opportunity to live this life that we all get to live.”
  • The Wades also recently launched Translatable, a safe space for LGBTQIA+ youth to express themselves, and a resource hub for their parents, families, and support systems. Talk about a role model.

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.

✨ A special message

Celebrating fathers and father figures in sports
Source: The GIST

The team at The GIST is filled with sports-obsessed women and nonbinary folk who were either athletes themselves or simply sports-curious. For the final two sections, here’s a sweet surprise for the GIST fathers and father figures in our lives. Prep the tissues.

“I grew on a cul-de-sac, the same one that my dad did, and some of my earliest memories are "playing hoola hoop" with him. He taught me how to toss and backspin the hoop so we could throw it to one another. It was cool and something that no other kids knew how to do, so I'd show off this "cool thing my Dad taught me" at recess. — Alessandra Puccio

“Growing up in an uber Latin family meant soccer was as present and important in our household as music is to most. I’m lucky that my dad would take the time to explain the who, what, and why during games. I'll always remember the 2002 World Cup when he would wake me up so we could watch live in the middle of the night. It was the first time I really cared about sports and a big part of that was knowing it was special to him and he was sharing it with me.” — Rachel Fuenzalida

“My dad used to take my sister and I to the dirt track races when we were little. Now he's retired and has had the time to build and race his own modified dirt vintage car at tracks up and down the east coast, winning races and my dad inspires me every day by showing everyone that you’re never too old to learn or start something new!” — Kristina Palmer

“Every year I wish a big "Happy Father's Day" to the best dad a girl could ask for... my mom. Because in my opinion Father's Day is a day to honor anyone who helped raise you, I want to thank her for driving me to endless tournaments and games and telling me "well at least your team had cuter costumes" whenever I lost. Happy Father's Day to the great dads out there (I know a lot of them), but also a big "Happy Father's Day" to those heroes who step up to fill in the gaps.” — Erin

🤗 Thank you dad

Celebrating fathers and father figures in sports
Source: The GIST

“Despite being an artist, my dad never blinked when I turned out to be the sportiest spice in the family. Not only did he support my ambitious endeavor to become a goaltender in my hometown’s hockey league of 95% boys, but he stitched custom four leaf clovers patches into my goalie pads for good luck. Now, he’s the first to text me about the Toronto Maple Leafs score, a fandom he joined and continues to endure just so we always had something to watch together on Saturday nights.” — Alexis Allison

“My love of sports comes from my dad and a childhood spent cheering on Boston teams together or traveling to my own games. He emphasized the history of the teams we cheered for and told me about players who always gave it their all. From catching my bullpens to teaching me about Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, my dad taught me how to play and to love the game.” — Lauren Tuiskula

“Some of the best memories I've had with my dad have been around sports. From taking me to NHL games when I was a kid (we still go every year), to coaching me and my soccer team all through high school. Cheering for the same team really brought us closer and we were able to use our knowledge and interest in sport to help each other through tough times. I'll forever be grateful for what sports has done for us.” — Nadia

“A core childhood memory of mine is watching the ’99 Women's World Cup with my dad. He invited a few friends and my uncles over, and the excitement in our living room was unreal. It was the first time I saw grown men so passionate about a game, and a women’s game at that. Not only was it an iconic and inspirational victory but it sparked my love for a sport that’s always been near and dear to my dad’s heart.” — Monique Calero