Growing up as a kid in the ’80s and ’90s, I had posters of Bo Jackson and Michael Jordan all over my wall. I played every sport and was a fanatic. The girls I knew at that time who were just as into sports as I was, had the exact same posters. Boy (or should I say girl), have things changed. They’ve changed in such a beautiful and inspiring way.

A “hot” tennis player no longer drives female sports – they are driven, literally, by the likes of Danica Patrick.

How amazing is it that Sportscenter can lead off its show with the very realistic question of women’s Baylor basketball star Brittney Griner actually getting drafted to the NBA? No “W” needed, the FREAKING NBA. To quote Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: “If she is the best on the board, I will take her. I’ve thought about it. I’ve thought about it already. Would I do it? Right now, I’d lean toward yes, just to see if she can do it. You never know unless you give somebody a chance, and it’s not like the likelihood of any late-’50s draft pick has a good chance of making it.”

People, that’s Jackie Robinson kind of stuff. That’s redefining a sport kind of stuff. That’s progress.

With women’s equal rights being a hot issue, women in sports can often get overlooked, but I think it’s just as important as women getting equal pay and equal rights that every man has because it’s about changing the future. It’s making women equal to man in sport. Not tennis, not golf, but major worldwide sport. It also breaks the mold on the stereotype that women athletes are gay. Who cares? If a gay man or woman whips you on the court or out drives you on the course, a gay person didn’t beat you, a female didn’t beat you, a person beat you. And the fact is that there are plenty of gay men in sports, they just aren’t bold enough to come out like female athletes – another example of how ladies are just plain tougher than men.

Most importantly, though, is the impact it’s having on kids. Screensavers and posters are now of strong and powerful women athletes: basketball stars, college football placekickers, snowboarders, and NASCAR heroes. This makes them believe they can compete against the big boys, makes them feel equal and provides them dreams that can come true, not just dreams that float away like Brittney Griner blocked ball. This is a big deal, and should be. People should be talking about this, rooting these gals on, and soon enough they won’t be referred to as anything but an athlete.

Need anymore convincing? I’ll allow the athletes to show you themselves.

Danica Patrick Wins Pole

Brittney Griner Dunks, Scores 50

9-Year-Old Football Star Sam Gordon

Mo Isom Kicking a 40 Yard Field Goal at LSU Football Tryouts

Ronda Rousey MMA Highlights

Photo courtesy of ESPN