“People hear about women’s tournaments, and they have this kneejerk defensive reaction—they don’t think it’s good,” says Jennifer Shahade, a two-time winner of the U.S. Women’s Championship and a board member of the World Chess Hall of Fame. “But they don’t realize that women usually play with men. They’re usually playing all in one tournament, and these women’s tournaments are special events organized to promote women in the game.”
The initiative, entitled “Her Time To Play,” is a program for girls aged 7-14 that incorporates lessons and stories from WNBA players on topics such as self-confidence and healthy lifestyles. A need was seen by the Jr. NBA to encourage youth participation in basketball, especially among young girls, due to recent trends in statistics. According to the WSF, girls drop out of organized sports at about twice the rate boys do by age 14.