#FixGirlsSports: A Vulnerable Story Sparks a Cry for Change in the Sports Industry

The Story

#FixGirlsSports is trending on twitter. Why? The New York Times released an op-ed video just last week on the youngest World Championship team American track and field athlete, Mary Caine. Her cry to change the systemic issue in sports has gone viral; The too commonly overlooked designed programs for male body and development breaks down the female body, and that needs to be addressed.  

What happened? 

Caine was on track to be the fastest girl in America, already breaking records and signing with the best track team in the world, Nike Oregon Project, at 17. This was until Caine was caught in a win-at-all-cost system manned by star coach Alberto Salazar, where she was forced to meet athletic standards based on the male body type and development. Salazar urged Caine to get thinner and thinner, giving her birth pills and diuretics to lose weight; meanwhile, Caine broke five bones, stopped menstruating for three years, and had suicidal symptoms. Caine, now 23, speaks out on the ways she was verbally and emotionally abused by Salazar (fired by Nike in recent months due to doping charges) and why this toxic culture needs to change in women’s sports.

This is a common thing?

Though Salazar was fired, his program still remains. The Nike Oregon Project was the team to be on and Nike endorsed it. The system is too commonly replicated in sports programs in the country (i.e. at gymnastics, swim, and cheerleading). Recent ESPN and Sports Illustrated articles talk about the noise surrounding the Nike Oregon Project culture, validating Caine’s claims of abuse. Notably, Nike refuses to comment any further than a PR statement sent to Runner’s World, claiming it’s “launch of an immediate investigation” to deal with the “troubling allegations.”

What do I do?

The video led to an outpouring of stories and eyewitness accounts from other athletes, along with twitter uses fighting for a change followed with #FixGirlsSports. Right now, there has been no actions for change by organizations. The movement for change, though, continues. 

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My name is Southern Britt and I am a senior at the University of Georgia. I am a working towards a degree in Journalism with minor in Communications and a Sports Media certificate. At UGA, I am currently pursuing my third year on the cheerleading team. I am the social media manager for the UGA Cheerleading program, producing graphics and controlling all feed publicized via Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. I am also a campus leader and volunteer through FCA and Team United. I was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia among a very sports-focused family of five. As a daughter of two head coaches (football and competitive cheerleading) and a sister of a former NFL player, sports became who I was. I soon fell in love with the stories in every athlete's life. As I become more and more enamored with the world of sports media, I hope to pursue the field of sports broadasting and sideline reporting.