Cheers of "Go team!" from pompom-sporting girls are conspicuously absent when those same girls are screaming "Slaughter 'em!" from the bench or the dugout. Last year, we reported a significant increase in women's sports, and one group has been particularly influenced by such factors as the WNBA and the new influx of female sports heroines: school-aged girls. More girls are involved in team sports than ever. One oft-quoted statistic from the Women's Sports Foundation cites that in the early 1970s, only one in 27 girls was involved in a high school team sport. By 1996, that number had increased to one in three. "Now, young girls grow up expecting to participate," says Sandi Bittler, director of women's sports marketing for Nike, which has a girls-only Web site called Girls in the Game.
However, this niche is hardly filled to date. Take note, entrepreneurs: When Mary Tenety and Lori Schmid could find only ill-fitting unisex and boy's sports apparel and gear for their athletic daughters, they started The Female Athlete, a thrice-yearly catalog aimed at female athletes aged 8 to 23 that provides the gear needed to compete and motivational products that celebrate girls. You go, girls.