Did everyone just forget already? Did we forget the inspiration that Kobe Bryant left for all of the #GirlDads?
The untimely and tragic death of Kobe along with his daughter, Gigi, in January, left us in shock. It left many people sickened as a sports legend departed this world too soon.
Sometimes through tragedy comes a silver lining—Kobe was heralded for his adoration of his kids. He was a dad to four daughters. As a result, he was a fierce supporter of women’s athletics.
His death put a bright spotlight on that part of his life as #GirlDad became a movement that spread throughout the nation. It was a movement based on pride for female athletes everywhere and the dads who support them.
So when news emerged about Sarah Fuller putting on full pads and taking the field as a place-kicker for Vanderbilt over the weekend, I can only imagine that somewhere Kobe was smiling.
He was likely smiling because this was a major accomplishment. This was an inspiration for young girls to believe they can do anything. Fuller was the first female athlete to take the field in a Power 5 football game.
When I saw ESPN’s social media post that recognized and celebrated Fuller’s moment, I smiled too—until I read the comments. Then I was furious.
Unfortunately, social media provides a platform for haters. It provides an opportunity for people to rain on the dreams and accomplishments of others. These commenters were trying to trivialize Fuller’s efforts. They made terrible, demeaning, and sexist jokes at her expense. Those comments are abhorrent and sickening.
I’m a proud #GirlDad, too. My daughters are active in athletics and I even coach my oldest daughter’s basketball team of sixth graders. You know what I see in that group of young athletes? I see grit, determination, leadership, strength, and competitiveness. They work hard and want to be the best they can be. They deserve the same amount of respect as any athlete out there, male or female.
If any individual tries to discredit, discourage, devalue, or undermine what any girl can do, then that person is simply contributing to the ugly side of humanity and social media.
What those people hidden behind a keyboard write in the comment section says more about them than it does about those they’re referencing.
I tell my team of sixth-graders that we can’t control the character of others. We can only control what we do. Our actions and our words reflect our own character. And we shouldn’t let the actions and words of others knock us down.
So to Sarah Fuller, I would say that I see your character and I applaud you. Rise above the negative. Don’t let them diminish your accomplishments. Keep inspiring others.
My daughters and millions of other young girls are watching, and you’ve made this #GirlDad proud.