Billie Jean King and Lindsey Vonn Explain Why So Many Girls Drop Out of Sports in NBC Sports Documentary

'Tomboy' is sponsored by Geico

Billie Jean King explains why female participation in sports lags behind men.

In the past 40 years, the number of females participating in sports has nearly doubled, as two out of every five girls now choose to play sports, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. But that number is still too low, as NBC Sports Regional Networks’ new documentary, “Tomboy,” points out.

The documentary, sponsored by Geico, explores why some girls still aren’t playing sports, including the disparity of access and resources in women’s athletics versus men’s. The story is told through interviews with female broadcasters, sports executives and athletes, like tennis legend Billie Jean King and Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn.

The goal of the documentary is to open up the conversation about gender in sports, said executive producer David Koppett.

“These are elite athletes who are aggressive and competitive and just as dedicated to their sport as any male,” he said. “A lot of progress has been made, and not made, in women’s sports. There’s still a massive difference to cover.”

Timed for Women’s History Month, the documentary aired on local NBC and CSN stations earlier this month and will premiere on NBCSN on March 30. The initiative includes podcasts, articles and interviews on the regional networks’ social channels, including powerful quotes from some of the athletes featured about the obstacles they’ve overcome in women’s sports.

“We partnered with NBC Sports on the project to help tell women athletes’ stories so viewers could see them with new understanding,” said Bill Brower, assistant vp of marketing at Geico. “It’s great to see women athletes, sports executives and broadcasters going after their goals and making history.”

Getting the athletes involved was not a hard sell, Koppett added.

“They’re issues they feel passionate about, whether it’s obstacles to access for girls or equal pay for women athletes, or equal resources devoted to their sports,” he said. “Girls and boys are treated differently, unconsciously, even by their parents. I’d never even thought about the word ‘tomboy’ before and what some of the problematic aspects of that word are. It was a topic that the athletes were eager to talk about, because they lived it.”