SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A who’s who of sports figures gathered in San Francisco Thursday for the beginning of a two-day summit on women in athletics, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell making a major announcement on the subject.
The league is looking for ways to appeal to its female fans who now make up the fastest-growing demographic in sports. The National Football League is hosting the first-ever NFL Women’s Summit, “In the Huddle to Advance Women in Sport,” as part of this week’s Super Bowl 50 events.
Former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was among the big names speaking out in favor of women in sports.
“Those of us who are minority, female really have to say, ‘I’m going to break through,'” said Rice.
“How do we get more girls to play sports?” asked Goodell. “How do we give them the confidence that we believe is going to make them successful in life?”
There has been progress. In college sports, there are five times as many women playing as there were in 1972. That was the year lawmakers passed Title 9, now any school that receives federal funds cannot discriminate based on gender.
During his speech at the summit, Goodell announced a new policy that says at least one women must be interviewed for any open NFL executive position.
Earlier this week, KPIX 5 profiled 11-year-old Marlo Mosley, a girl from San Jose who will be executing Super Bowl 50’s very first handoff.
“Before the game I will get the game ball and hand it off to the referees before Super Bowl 50,” said Marlo.
She came up with the winning entry in the NFL’s national “Play 60” campaign, which encourages physical activity for kids.
When asked if she was going to be nervous, Marlo replied, “A little bit, because all those people are watching, but I think I’ll get through it.”
These are just some of the moves the NFL is making in the wake of some bad press in recent years, including a number players accused of violence against women in some high profile criminal cases.
That wasn’t addressed at the Thursday event, as organizers kept the focus on the positive.
“The commitment to trust your preparation and keep going to the end, is an extremely important part of any endeavor of life,” said Rice.
Other figures appearing at the summit include tennis players Serena Williams and Billie Jean King and singer Jordin Sparks.
More details on the Women’s Summit can be found at the official website.