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Detroit Pistons launch new effort to keep girls playing sports

Nike, NBA, WNBA partner to bring positive change to girls in your community

DETROIT – Many athletes know the valuable lessons learned on courts, fields and in arenas, but young girls are dropping out of sports twice as much as boys are.

The Detroit Pistons are working to change that to make sure girls stay involved.

The Pistons have hosted the Pistons Academy for years. The youth basketball programs for boys and girls across the state is now taking it a step further to make sure that female players stick with it.

Studies show that by age 14, girls are dropping out of sports at twice the rate of boys. According to a 2018 study from the Women’s Sports Foundation, nearly 40% of girls don’t participate in sport, compared to 25% of boys.

“By the time they reach eighth grade, 50% of girls stop doing sports,” said Shay Smith. “That is something they want to prevent and figure out how we can prevent and figure out the solution to the problem.”

Smith is a Madonna University student who played basketball through high school and knows the value of competition.

“When you play sports you learn cooperation, teamwork, leadership skills,” Smith said. “I feel like a lot of those qualities might be lacking from certain girls or just hindered a little bit because they don’t have many opportunities.”

That’s where the Pistons, the NBA, the WBNA and Nike step in -- they all partnered to create Game Growers to get more girls back in the game.

Applications will be accepted through Dec. 4 for two co-captains, who will lead the development of an idea to grow sports for girls. The Pistons’ Game Growers’ team will develop and test their idea and create a game plan to grow sports participation for Detroit girls.

“I feel like if we invest when we have the Pistons Academy when they have the program for the girls all year round, that’s investing in our girls at a young age,” Smith said. “That’s kind of like a positive snowball effect of, ‘OK, I see that they care about me now, they’re going to care about me when I get to middle school’ and by that time, hopefully, 50% goes lower for them.”

The opportunity is for girls 13-years-old or older in seventh or eighth grade to share their ideas on how to encourage more girls to play sports.

You can apply online at the official Game Growers website here.

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